I wasn't given a chance to check out Unbounded's craziest addition to the Ridge Racer series, track creation, but was instead offered a brief playthrough of one of the game's Bugbear Entertainment-developed levels. The demo build was unfortunately locked in the automatic transmission setting, but the assistance of a drift button allowed me to characteristically slide around turns and past other cars. That is, if I survived the turn.
, other players come after you
. Around turns, I found myself repeatedly fired into a corner or spun around, often due to my lack of foresight. This effect was compounded when boost came into play, either assisting me to nudge someone out of the way (and into an abutment) or allowing me to straight up blast through designated areas. Not that you can just go around crashing into people and things constantly, as your car takes damage from most interactions -- a fully destroyed car is penalized with precious race time, offering a risk/reward twist to the game's, um, twist
Reps from Namco couldn't tell me whether the final game would include a feature close to my heart, manual transmission support (yes, even in arcade-style racing games). They were sure to point out, however, that Unbounded
will ship with brand new tracks rather refreshing classics as other main series Ridge Racer games have. Which isn't to say those tracks can't be recreated using the race builder mode, of course.
With a wide open 2012 launch window, there's still plenty of time for Namco and Bugbear to convince gamers that Unbounded
is a worthy competitor to arcade racing's most recent titans (Need for Speed
, namely). And for me, thus far, it's made a great impression.
Of course, I'm open to more convincing.