Ridge Racer, arcadey automotive classic and proof that dumb Internet jokes will outlive us all, is still alive and kicking, even in a racing landscape where cars have finally learned to fly. Last year's hyper-destructive Ridge Racer: Unbounded was a messy good time, and former FlatOut developer Bugbear is once again behind the wheel for Ridge Racer: Driftopia. Two things, however, distinguish this one from the rest of the powersliding pack: 1) it's free-to-play and 2) whiirrrrrr rubber screeeeeech driiiiiiiiiiift thoooom [sound of a tire wobbling around on pavement before falling over]. There is, in other words, a focus on drifting. But goodness, this otherwise looks like a low-rent Burnout, and I am physically incapable of complaining about that. Here, watch me try. Whoops, now I'm bleeding everywhere. While I mop all of this up, might I suggest a metal-mangling scream of a trailer after the break?
Yes, "free 2 drift" is an actual slogan. But then, in a world where "prepare 4 battle" is not only legal but printable without a censorship bar or tear-stained apology note, what do you expect? We live in dark times.
Dark times with REALLY AWESOME CARS. Oh, sorry. That was My Priorities talking. He is apparently eight.
Unfortunately, Namco and Bugbear aren't revealing exactly how this one will, you know, make money just yet, but my figurative money's on microtransactions. The trailer appeared to contain various vehicle packs, so there's a probable start. As for where else hungry coin slots will show up, it's tough to say. It's worth noting, however, that Namco's quite new to this free-to-play business, so hopefully it's been paying close attention to others' pay-to-win missteps. Otherwise, I foresee bad things.
Regardless, Namco's apparently quite a big fan of free-to-play now, which is a rather major about-face from, er, one year ago. But then, so long as Ridge Racer: Driftopia turns out to be great, I could care less about the publisher's previous episode of Videogame Execs Say The Darndest Things. Driftopia will be out later this year, and PS3 will also get a version. Should we expect cross-platform play? Who knows. I have, however, emailed Namco, so hopefully we'll have more details soon.