Ever since the Playstation hit the market there really has been one game that met the launch and that is Ridge Racer. Aside from the Xbox, this game has been on many consoles very early in their life cycle and has always demonstrated quite well the potential power. The PSP is no different and upon September 1st it will again meet a console launch. While the format of racing games is not new, the power and flexibility offered by this handheld title is and it will be one of the better titles come launch.
Ridge Racer tasks you with progressing through a number of championships to unlock new cars and tracks. Sounds very cliche but the big difference is the fact this is one very huge and powerful game in the palm of your hand with the PSP. The storyline mode known as Tour Mode, gives you the option to play through numerous tournaments to get to harder and better tracks but that's really all the storyline has.
As with the original ridge racer you start the race at the back and have to progress through to the qualifying position to move on. This gradually gets harder as the qualification position gradually moves from third to winning the race but the progression is very balanced and there really isn't a point in the game which is ridiculously hard. The cars also don't offer to much of a challenge as they seem to have restricted engines and it won't take that long to catch up to them.
To do this however your driving skill has to progress as well. Slowing down for corners is not an option and as is becoming popular in racing games you have to drift around the corner. This is as simple as taking the foot off the accelerator, tapping brake and controlling the slide. The engine of the game makes this really easy to do and we found the game extremely pick up and play. The AI could probably use a bit of work but later in the game they do pose a challenge and are very aware of your car. The other modes allow you to have a time trial or single race with cars and tracks unlocked plus adhoc wireless multiplayer with friends. This is perhaps one of the best features of the game.
Visually the game really shows the power of the PSP and the potential for the system. It can be played in two perspectives, either the bumper view or behind the car. This determines the sense of speed, bumper view is quite fast while behind the car, the game feels a bit sluggish. The track detail is definitely on par with the PSOne version of the game and in many areas is closer to the PS2 level of detail. Sound effects are great with a fantastic soundtrack and commentary provided during the races.
Ridge Racer PSP is everything about the system that is cool. Quick gameplay, fun racing, top soundtrack and it exploits the power of the system quite well. If you're a racing fan then Ridge Racer is definitely a game to check out for the PSP as the length and depth of the game will keep you going for a while.