Title  : Ridge Racer Type 4
Platforms  : Sony PlayStation
Publisher  : NAMCO
Game Rating  : 7.9
Review by  : Ken Gagne

Though today's market is inundated with racing titles, it was Namco's translation of the arcade game Ridge Racer that began it all on the PlayStation in 1995. Followed by Ridge Racer Revolution and then Rage Racer, the series has not been updated in over a year — setting the stage for this year's Ridge Racer Type 4. 

Whereas Gran Turismo focused on providing an accurate racing simulation with real-world physics, Ridge Racer is all about caroming and power sliding through the course and being the first to the finish line. You wouldn't dare try some of these moves in your dad's Corvette! 

The main attraction is the grand prix mode, consisting of the game's eight courses in progressively difficult order. Do well and new cars will find their way to your garage, for a possible total of 321 vehicles. No upgrades or customization is available other than the car's physical appearance. 

Ridge is the first racing game to utilize the JogCon controller, which can be purchased as a bundle with the game. Fortunately, gamers with their old analog sticks won't suffer, as the game steers beautifully. Control is kept simple, primarily gas and brake, though no analog scheme for gas/brake is available. 

The racing graphics are drabber than Gran Turismo, but Ridge's lighting effects and roadside detail are the better. There are only camera modes, as opposed to the usual three or four. The opening and closing full motion video is dramatic and gorgeous. 

Music is mostly instrumental pop — typical Ridge. There are more tunes than Turismo, accompanying each race by default, in random order, or by player selection. Sound effects are realistic, for better or worse: a lemon of a car doesn't make much noise, but the better models purr like a kitten. 

Ridge barely gets off the starting line in terms of challenge. Despite the variety of cars and teams (the latter representing difficulty setting), the computer AI doesn't put up much of a fight. Most vehicles are evenly matched, leaving the task to practice and learning the course layout. 

A bonus disc contains demos of Namco's other titles and the playable, original Ridge Racer. Though it's scaled down in some areas, a new high-resolution mode has graphics that must be seen to be believed. 

Ridge Racer Type 4 is almost a "Simple Gran Turismo," though the different feel of the two makes such a comparison almost unfair. Still, RRT4 finds itself stiffly competing with the best racer of 1998, leaving little room for it to stand against this summer's Gran Turismo 2. 

RRT4 is a good, fun racer, but ultimately a shallow one.


This article is copyright (c) 1999, 2007 by Ken Gagne. All rights reserved. Not to be distributed without permission.

Original publication: Sentinel & Enterprise, 10-May-99