Dull tracks. It's a flaw born from the track creator itself. You can lay down pre-made road tiles (sadly, all urban themed) and populate courses with smashable dustbin bags, explosives canisters, and half-pipes. It's no ModNation or TrackMania, with broad tools leaving little room for fine tuning, but it's good for a quick mess around. A ramp over a block-long line of cars, or a loop-the-loop, for instance. Taking created tracks online is a welcome touch. Trouble is, every course in the career uses this limited system too. It gives the game away, robbing Unbounded of its magic. It's like the chair you put together yourself - you know exactly where it wobbles.
It may not have a varied setting, and track design is mostly lacking, but there's a decent variety of race types in the career. There are always a handful of events open, meaning if one proves too hard, try another (perhaps a concession for the lack of difficulty options). The best is domination. Think Burnout's takedown events but, well, without the Burnout bit. Instead of racing to the finish line, your goal is to ram into other cars. Barges will chip away at a health meter, while speed boost-assisted attacks, or even scrapes, will take them out the race instantly - effective, even it feels a little scripted.
Checkpoint races, a dull token in other games, are given life here by impressively destructive environments. Smash through bridge supports and scaffolding and fountains and shop fronts. It's a smart decision by the developers and, in doing so, you won't slow down, even if objects break apart like styrofoam as a result.
This destruction lends itself to Unbounded's most compelling feature - or what it thinks is a compelling feature - shortcuts. Fill up your boost meter through trading paint, drifting and near misses and your HUD gives you a head's up. The downside? After you've blazed a trail through mall, museum or monument, other racers can use your shortcut, so it's not a brilliant advantage. To upshot is that it won't knock many seconds off your time, especially with the game's reliance on elastic-banding.
In the end, while there's a career mode that offers decent moments (like swatting away dozens of exploding cop cars as a massive truck), and the opportunity to race on user-created tracks, Ridge Racer Unbounded is a game running dangerously low on creative juice.
Solid, playable but ultimately uninspiring, Ridge Racer does its best to catch up with the pack - but it's built from used parts
- Varied career modes - racing, drifting, combat
- The track creator is interesting
- Disappointing lack of speed
- Track design is uninspiring
- Just one setting - a very orange city