Imagine this: A "Now That's What I Call Music!" CD. Except it's not a CD, it's a UMD; and it's more like "Now That's What I Call Ridge Racer!" That's the best way to describe Ridge Racer on the PSP; but unlike the cash-cow music compilation albums, Ridge Racer is great.
This PSP game takes all the best tracks from previous games in the RR series, most notably the arcade and PSone games, and puts them together in this neat little package. But before you access any of the tracks or cars you're invited to play an old Namco arcade game called New Rally-X. You drive around, capture flags, and avoid other cars. When you're done it's time to sample the delights of Ridge Racer.
After the spectacular intro, and the title screen, you reach the main menu and have several options available to you. The options menu allows you to adjust sound settings and switch the New Rally-X game off if you don't want to play it, although I do advise you to play it as much as possible. If you do you'll eventually receive a nice little surprise. Single Race allows you to pick a course, a car and just go off racing in a field of twelve cars; Time Attack lets you have the course all to yourself with a chance to set the fastest lap possible; whilst Wireless Battle allows you to race against your friends (8 players possible) via the WLAN.
However, as you've probably noticed by now, you only have access to three cars and six courses. Looks like we need to unlock the other cars and courses, and we do that via the World Tours. Here the mode is split into three difficulties: Basic, Pro and Ex; and in each category is a series of tours. A tour is a mini championship where each race requires you to finish in a certain position or higher (eg: 3rd or better) in order to move onto the next race. Successfully completing a tour will unlock cars, tracks, other tours, and other nice extras. It's a highly addictive mode, and one that will keep you occupied for quite some time.
When selecting a car you have three different types of cars to choose from: Mild, Standard and Dynamic. Mild cars are hard to drift with but are easier to control. Dynamic cars drift easily but are tough to straighten out. Standard cars are an average balance of Mild and Dynamic. You should make your decision on which car to choose based on your Ridge Racer experience.
The one feature introduced for the first time in the Ridge Racer series, for this PSP outing, is the nitrous gauge. As you drift your car around the corners on each course the nitrous gauge, three mini tanks displayed on the left side of the screen, start to fill up. The more speed you have whilst drifting, the quicker the tanks fill up. When you have a full tank you can press the R shoulder button to activate the nitrous and give you an extra boost of speed. The actual use of this boost, and when abouts you use it, is vital to beating your opponents to 1st place and setting fast lap times.
This all sounds like good fun, and I'm glad to say that fun is accompanied by fantastic graphics. Everything looks so realistic. Light shimmers off the windows of buildings at Seaside Route 765; neon lights glow brightly on the Midtown Expressway; and the sunset sky looks so appealing at Crimsonrock Pass.
The music is top notch too, and once you've heard some of the tracks they'll be stuck in your head all day long. Mostly made up of dance beats with the occasional bit of jazz, some of the tracks are new to this game whilst others are remixed from previous Ridge Racers. With 30 tracks available the law of average says at least one of them will become your personal favourite.
Ridge Racer for the PSP is simply brilliant. It has great courses, great cars, great tracks, and the feeling of drifting your car around corners at 300kph is...yes, you guessed it, great. Buy this game now!...?...Well what are you waiting for?! Go on!