Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.
A take on Ridge Racer by the developers of FlatOut, Ridge Racer Unbounded ditched blue skies and smooth racing line for muddy browns and a driving system that rewarded you for destroying things.The reward is more destruction.
As per every Ridge Racer games, drifting is a core mechanic. Hold down the drift button when taking a corner and you fill an energy bar. Once that energy bar is maxed out, you can deploy it for a boost in speed, but also to turn your car into an indestructible wrecking ball. Touch any other vehicle when in boost mode, and it will flip and explode in Burnout fashion. Touch specially-placed parts of the scenery – petrol trucks, bridge struts, that sort of thing – and they will similarly explode, altering the structure of tracks and offering you shortcuts.
It’s a little bit FlatOut, a little bit Burnout, a little bit Split/Second. Its commitment to destruction is such that even small crashes – plowing through lampposts, road signs and low walls – only fills your energy meter faster.
Unfortunately, it’s also too little Ridge Racer. I missed the blue skies when playing it, and it’s altogether too brown and grey. It also fails to explain many of its mechanics, and its multiplayer servers long ago shut down though the game continues to try to connect to them every time you load it up. Ridge Racer Unbounded had some interesting ideas, but it’s not a great game.