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 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Aug 19, 2021 1:56 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2135
Everything I've read has said that BP:Remastered still doesn't have a rotating minimap, so that's a no from me.


 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2021 2:37 
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Can you dig it?

Joined: 5th Apr, 2008
Posts: 4393
I can get lost and crash my car in an unfamiliar city in real life, why would I want to do that in a game. My sense of direction isn't brilliant TBH.

Seriously though, I think I just preferred the more focussed tight style of the earlier games - I knew where I was going, and I just had to get there quickly.

rumours about the high quality of the butter reached Yerevan

 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 1:25 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2135
Ridge Racer: Unbounded (The Full Game This Time)

I traded in some DS games and saw this on the shelf for a... somewhat reasonable price so I decided to finally get my own copy of Ridge RUB after a decade of dithering. (Of course the shop reduces the price by 20% a few days after I buy it. Rascals.)

I played the demo and wrote about it here once upon a time, but I'm going to write a whole new set of notes about the full RUB anyway without referring to my demo post, and see how closely my enlightened won-the-whole-game-nyah reactions marry up to my peasantly looking-longingly-through-the-shop-window demo experiences.

Wouldn't you know it, the full RUB is surprisingly like the demo, except it has an intro with a plot! I love my racing games with plots, and I hate my racing games without them.

The game starts off with a moody, edgy cutscene where you're introduced to an underground anarchic street racing league called The Unbounded led by a gal in a nifty leather coat (not FMV like the NFS trilogy, sadly) who wants to destroy the decadent city of Shatter Bay (named after Captain William Shatter (yes)) by doing incredibly destructive racing over and over until the city is a smoking wreck. The loading screens say things like "If the roaring engines don't wake up the citizens on this side of the city, then the bent steel coming through their kitchen window will.". So we're probably not the good guys. For some reason. I mean, it's cool that we're the antagonists - antagonists usually have the cooler tasks and cooler motivations, but Shatter just seems like... a normal city. The Unbounded must be really pissed off with them all for some reason. Every time you complete a district you get a little animated background of the city with buildings all crumbling and on fire with Kara standing over them. The total lack of acknowledgement that there are probably people in those buildings we're blowing up and almost certainly people driving those cars is fascinating. Every so often a level will put you in a semi truck cab and challenge you to 'frag the cops'. There's no police radio like in NFS Most Wanted Good Edition where 'taken down' cops report in from their busted up cruisers like it's The Blues Brothers. Kara Shindo wants you to kill everyone. And the player character goes along with it, 'cause.

I remembered her name because her moody anarchist manifesto intro ends with 'I am Kara Shindo. Remember my name!', so I did, since it's only polite. I was expecting her to show up again and say something, anything, as I went through the game. Nope. The game's plot only appears at the beginning and at the end, and -spoiler alert!- The Unbounded want to destroy Shatter Bay because it's decadent, like they said in the intro. And now you've done it. That's it.

I looked Kara up on the RR Wiki, since I know that RR likes its CGI race idols, and it had this to say about her:
'Kara Shindo is a character in Ridge Racer Unbounded. She is the head of the Unbounded gang and seeks to destroy Shatter Bay.'

That's the entire article. Not quite Reiko Nagase levels of marketing going on there.

My overwhelming memory of the demo of RUB is the whole world looked like it was kept on a smoker's desk. That was playing on my brother's PC, which is an important distinction to make, since the PC version of Driver: San Francisco has very picky shaders which results in the entire game being displayed at half brightness on every PC I've seen it on, so I thought maybe it was the case here. It is... maybe... I can't really tell. I'm playing it on a proper suitable TV for the 360 so it looks as good as it's ever going to be. Yet, the whole world still is somewhat dark even in the daylight levels and with the brightness turned up a few notches in the options. Some levels look hyper overposed like a bad photocopy, but some levels (in daylight) look somewhat normal and pleasant... again with a strange caveat that the game looks horribly upscaled and speckly a lot of the time (and runs at perhaps 20 FPS if the in-game timer is anything to go).

The game's various coloured lighting presets are all very nifty, to tell the truth. I started off hating it and sort of grew to respect it. Slightly. The game just puts its worst foot first. And second. And for most of the game. They must've gone to some effort to draw day and night variations of every building texture and make sure they all looked reasonable under all twenty or so of the lighting styles. It's just a shame that the game is damn near unreadable under anything but bright sunlight. The only fully day district (the preset is named 'Cold Day' in the track editor, and you're very welcome) is Williams Way, and HOLY HELL it's so much more pleasant than the rest of the game you've played up to that point. It feels completely different. Well, it feels like a last-gen remake of the not-so-great bright city from NFS: A Criterion Game, just less crinkly and over-detailed. But then the game punks me again by setting all of the Williams Way races -mostly underground in tunnels-. I laughed. The final city district in the game uses a Deus Ex: Human Revolution-ish pitch black world with golden highlights, so go ahead and whack that Brightness slider up to max in the options if you want to stand a chance. Even in Cold Day you might want to put the Brightness on max since some of the shadows the skyscrapers throw across the track are full-black otherwise. I love how all the screenshots on the Xbox 360 store interface are of Williams Way in Cold Day. It's as if they know that if they showed how the game looks the majority of the time, nobody would buy it. (As if anybody looks on the internal 360 store thing anyway...)

I'm sure you all know RUB's gimmick, but I'll explain it here anyway. RUB doesn't have shortcuts like typical games, they're all hidden through buildings and are only accessible if your POWER gauge is full. The POWER shortcuts come in two varieties. The main type is a totally flat wall like a garage door plonked in the middle of the road. If you're POWERed, you go through it like it was cardboard, if you're not, then you get CRASHED. Unfortunately, another thing that looks like a flat grey rectangle is the road itself, so on your first go at the track you'll be constantly making 50/50 choices as to which dark flat cube in the distance is the real track, and which is a cunning fake Wile E. Coyote painted tunnel waiting to kill you instantly. Sometimes the POWER shortcuts aren't in the middle of the track - they're at 45-degree angles to it, totally concealed so you will never ever see them while you're in motion. Like you would be if you were racing, say.

POWER is incredibly capricious to get. You get it by drifting, drafting, etc, but the draft range is basically NONE. Not that you have very much depth perception in this game because all three camera angles put the camera very low to the ground. The developers must have known that their lighting and graphical design meant you COULDN'T SEE A FUCKING THING because when you have POWER, the game constantly picks out 'Targets'™ with HUGE screen-filling HUD elements labelled DESTROY SHATTER PD, DESTROY CAFE, EXPLODE TRUCK with arrows pointing to the offending object. Now not only can you not see a thing, but the things you could possibly see are obscured by the text. Also what is funny is that the duration of POWER is slightly shorter than the typical range that the HUD hints appear, so if you POWER immediately upon seeing the hint, you'll blast enthusiastically into the object and obliterate yourself.

The game has a mini-achievement system which it calls 'Awards'. They're like little achievements you can earn once per race for doing special stuff, and each time you earn an Award you get almost a full POWER bar reward. Against other cars, POWER works like a Mario Kart star. Now imagine twelve racers all smushed up activating stars at will. Given that you get Awards for things like 'going moderately fast', 'drifting a little bit' and 'hitting some objects', the start of every race turns into a blinding whirlwind of glowing red POWER trails and exploding twirling cars. Most races start with half the pack exploding in the first ten seconds, and with the player either in 12th place completely beyond hope, or in 1st place. And being in 1st place doesn't guarantee victory like in some games, you will be CONSTANTLY harangued by bastards coming up behind you unless you pull out your best moves and POWER away from them - POWER's nitro is actually really potent and boosts your top speed by 20mph for longer than the visual effect lasts, so definitely POWER if you can. Close combat racing amongst the pack is a real hassle in RUB. Totally luck based and bananas. Stay away! All of the races in game were made with the block-based track editor, and as a result there are a LOT of straight lines. Which made me wonder what the heck I was supposed to do to defeat the enemies. You can't really be creative, and the drafting distance is microscopic. You have to just accept whatever you see (or not see as the case may be) and -do yer best-. The game is really difficult and arbitrary, especially at the start. Don't expect to breeze through RUB. These cars are gonna make you earn every success.

I restarted a lot, which is fast, but there's still way too many layers of glowy swooshes you have to sit through to get anywhere. You might be tempted to complete races just for the XP points, which is a good idea if you're collecting the mini mid-race awards since they don't 'click' into your save file otherwise, but it means sitting through lots and -lots- of text swooshes and things filling up while your eyes roll into your head and none of it is bloody necessary at all. It's like the game wants you to get sick of it in a controlled manner so you don't either burn through the limited number of races too quickly, or burn out on the game entirely.

And, yeah, RUB has CRASHED. Joy. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does it is NEVER EVER your fault. Usually, and infuriatingly, it mostly consistently occurs during a drift if you clip the -inside- wall. You can slam your broadside into the outside of the track and trundle right on (as is the Correct Way for a racing game to be), but if your front corner touches the wall twenty irreplaceable seconds of your precious life are stolen from you as you are banished to cutscene land. It doesn't tend to happen for many other reasons. But boy it sure is fun to have a rival racer POWER up your backside and one-hit-kill you with no warning. I mean, you can (and must) do the same to them, but fair doesn't mean fun.

On that subject I also suggest turning off the Event Cam in the options. It doesn't stop CRASHED, but the shoddy looking slow motion destruction cutscenes you get when you POWER through a building are not that exciting the first time, never mind the hundredth.

RUB is anything but fair. There are plenty of instances where the game does something egregious and I either yell 'WHAT' at the screen or just stare the Crashed screen repeating 'Nope. Nope, you're lying, stop it.'. If you go into it expecting a normal racing game, you're going to not enjoy it. And if you go into it expecting the weirdness to be in the car mechanics, like Ridge Racer 1's VERY weird drifting, you'll be upset too, because RUBs car driving great and it's the buildings and opponents that are bizarre here.

Traffic cars, concrete columns, plants and lampposts are all fair game to be sliced through as if they were made of dust. Buuuut... how do you tell the difference between a traffic car that's been tossed onto its side onto the middle of the track, and the aftermath of an -e-p-i-c- -f-r-a-g-f-e-s-t- that's left one of the enemy racers paralysed in the middle of the track? You can't. You'll slam right into it expecting to knock it away like bowling pins and you'll get caught on it and it'll SUCK.

As you smash through items or through the front and rear walls of a POWER shortcut, chances are large pieces of debris will get lodged on the front of your car, completely blocking your view, even when in third person. That's great.

In the Old Town district, there are more than a few POWER shortcuts that will dump you out facing a brick wall. Most of the POWER shortcuts elsewhere lead to ramps - you're supposed to use them to gather even more POWER from the airtime from the jumps hidden inside - but RUB isn't very good at simulating landings. One in ten times, your car will land awkwardly on its front and start twirling about in every direction at once, ruining your race. It's lucky the races in RUB are short.

Now that I've won the game, I can confirm that CPU players will never, ever deliberately trigger a POWER shortcut. Sometimes the CPU players will POWER through an explosive truck placed across the road, but only if you push them into it. You will never encounter an opened POWER shortcut that you didn't open yourself, which is the strangest dang thing. It means that you're playing a different game to the CPU players - it's asymmetrical, like Pac-Man VS. I can't think of any other racing games that have rules like that - the closest example that immediately comes to mind is the original Super Mario Kart, where the CPU versions of the characters all use their signature weapons freely instead of being restricted to the item boxes like the player is. I'm not really sure what the consequence of this is - I never figured out for sure whether it was best to open up every shortcut as soon as possible or to save them for later. They don't really help you anyway...

The CPU drivers never have names, which is sort of strange I guess. There's no tournaments or race-to-race persistence so I guess they never thought the need to give them names. It adds to the sensation that the rest of the pack exists purely as a unified opposing force versus the player. This was before Forza's awful horrible inexplicable decision to use random gamertags from your friend list as CPU names.

One really cheeky thing the AI drivers sometimes do which always racks me off is to activate their own POWER the instant you do, rendering them invulnerable to your attack. I get that a real player would naturally try to activate it in self-defence if they realised they were at risk, but there's no way they'd react flawlessly like the CPU players sometimes do. They wouldn't have any way of knowing you'd done it.

There's some other types of races in RUB which weren't in the demo. Exciting new stuff! Except they take place on the same cities as the rest of the races, so they don't feel all that new. First up, there's stunt tracks. The stunt tracks are very Trackmania-like - someone's gone and put half-pipes and floating platforms and spinning Ridge Racer coins all over the place and you've gotta dominate the district by being a crazy, gutsy fool and driving megafast. It's like you're some kind of... stunt... car... racer. Hmm!! They're actually pretty fun since the tracks seem ridiculous and impossible at a glance, but a few goes will let you easily pick out the line the game wants you to go for and they're never ridiculously long or difficult. Shame there's only about six of them in the entire game.

In 'Shindo' racing, which I think was in the demo, you have BOOST instead of NITRO which is BLUE instead of RED. And doesn't LET you GO through buildings. I thought there was going to be some kind of special skill involved here, like the fun Touge racing from Grid 1 or the horrible Touge racing from Grid 2 or the non-existent Touge racing from Grid In A Box. But the different kind of power bar is the difference, except, for some reason, Shindo BOOST racing is phenomenally easier than POWER racing. Once you're in first, you tend to keep it. I dunno why. I have a little theory though - I think that the player gets a vastly improved kick out of BOOST than POWER, but CPU racers don't get the same benefit. There's no other reason I can see for my effortless victories.

The other main type of racing in RUB is the 'Frag Attack', which I'm sure Ridge Racer fans had been begging for since the series began. In this mode, the enemy cars swarm around you and you have to use your quickly regenerating POWER to despatch as many as you can as quickly as possible. These modes by far are the worst in the game, and they're the only ones that I couldn't figure out any way to get a perfect score on in my post-game grinding spree.

To frag an enemy, you have to touch them while POWER is on. But it's also based on your relative speed and angle. And you'll usually be trying to drive at your top speed naturally anyway so trying to nudge a car that's just out of reach in front of you can be agonising. And in half of these Frag Attacks you're driving a truck cab that can barely steer. And your score is based on how many cars you kill, but they're not at fixed locations on the track - sometimes they'll decide to not show up when they're meant to, and there goes your run. I think I managed to figure out a knack to do Frag Attacks 'properly' by getting the enemy cars to land in the right places for me to nudge them diagonally but if you told me I'd just gotten lucky and I was deluding myself, I'd accept that too. You can earn extra time in Frag Attacks by going through POWER shortcuts, but since there aren't any enemy cars to smash inside the secret passages, it seems like a trap unless you're very sure there's no cars on the regular route and you'll earn more time than you'll spend in there.

The other type of race is point-to-point 'escape the cops' type races. Yeah! The cops from the intro actually do show up in Time Attacks and Frag Attacks as the antagonists. I was shocked! I didn't think there would be any actual cops in the game. But when there are cops, they don't really act agressively - they drift around you like fairies and make a little chevron in front of your car - I get the impression that they're really there to give you something to draft behind to recharge your POWER, or to slam into using POWER to get additional replacement POWER from the awards. I wasn't very good at these. Even more than the stunt tracks, the Time Attacks seem focused on getting and using POWER perfectly over and over and not having any dead time. The one-star score is reachable, and I'm glad there's individual achievements for perfecting each discipline separately.

Oh man, I wrote all five and a half thousand words of this post and published it and totally forgot about the drift challenges. Yeah, it's got drift challenges, of a really arcadey sort - long drifts get you time extends, and all that. I liked this; I usually like drifts in general. It's much harder than most other games' drift modes, like GRID or NFSU, but it's also shorter. It's focused around trying to keep the car drifting at all times, even in straight lines. -There's no multiplier- which is super duper weird for a drift mode. Still, the time limits are so tight you really do have to race flawlessly to get the max rating. I had to go accept a two-star rating until I'd unlocked some of the better cars. It might not seem like it at first, but there is a knack to the drifting - the game tells you to use the B-button E-Brake to start the drifts, but I've found tapping the E-Brake and the regular brake simultaneously to be a lot more reliable. The drifts are more like NFS than Ridge, which is a VERY good thing. I've played Ridge Racer 64 and its drifts are bollocks and bizarre. They come from another planet. It's Ridge's defining feature and it's -TOTALLY- inapplicable to RUB, which makes me wonder why it has the name at all. But anyway.

You unlock cars as you go but there's only about six in each class, and they progress from 'lame starting car' to 'good at most stats' to 'AWD slow mess' and that's it. The only time you'll get properly fast cars with 5/5 in acceleration and speed is the drift races, for some reason. The cars themselves are a bit of a non-entity in the scheme of things. They're all made up, which is neither here nor there for me, but I don't like that RUB does the NFS: HP thing of only giving you three or four pre-set colours to pick from for each car. Would it have been so much trouble to let the player compose a signature colour they like and have that added to the list? Most of the cars in the game only come in black, red, silver or orange, and everything looks the same anyway especially under the coloured lighting. The -one- distinct car is the Mustang rip-off thing, which dutifully slides all over the place, if that's how you like to roll.

I hit a (ha ha!) roadblock when I completed all the races I could but didn't have enough points to unlock the later races in one of the series. The game still let me finish the career mode and get the end credits without finishing every race, which is nice, but I still wanted to finish every race so I had to come back and figure out what I was supposed to do. It turns out that, get this, to get more points in a race, you have to score more points in a race. I thought it was going to be mega-difficult, but it was only a case of smashing all the 1,000 point POWER targets at every opportunity. It's doable.

One thing I think is clever is in the intro when it ends with a hint that after we've conquered Shatter we're ready to 'conquer the world'. That might equally apply to a hypothetical sequel (which never happened), or the online mode with the track editor where you can make your own cities and put them online. In fact the whole game sort of seems like an introduction to the multiplayer. (A bit like Metal Gear Survive! Except with less plot. I liked the plot in Survive. Ugh. Why couldn't Survive have been cool?).

RUBs editor is semi-slick, semi-annoying and mostly pointless. You put prefabricated city block pieces (from a huge selection that takes ages to scroll through) down onto a grid, and that's it. It's nothing like Trackmania or Re-Volt, despite looking superficially similar, and definitely nothing like ModNation Racers. RUB's pieces are city-block sized, though you're really putting down the roads between the blocks. The game does a flawless job of making all the city-pieces connect together in such a way that it looks like a natural city, with a huge facade of a city just out of reach beyond the main track roads.

Unfortunately (well, maybe), RUBs main campaign is composed entirely of these city-blocks as well. As you're racing, you'll start to recognise gimmicks and scenes repeated and thrown together in new combinations in different levels, which is a weird experience. That sounds like a roguelike dungeon, and it feels that way a lot of the time, except unlike a roguelike, the levels are constant so you can learn them like proper tracks. And you'll need to 'cause of the way you can't see a thing. It also means that all of the stuff flying around you as you drive is all fake and there is no real city and no free-roam mode. When you get into the roguelike dungeon mindset, it actually kinda improved the experience for me, and I started feeling like I was playing the races one room at a time. The game also reuses city blocks in different districts sometimes, which is kinda lazy. The districts supposed to be on completely opposite sides of the city, I'm not supposed to be having random flashbacks like that. Some corners with POWER targets seem to be used over and over again, but looking at a walkthrough to see what targets are on which track, most of the targets are only used in one track each, so I don't know how I'm getting the impression that they're being used constantly. The game feels so samey sometimes it tricks me into thinking it's being samey when it's not, which isn't a great result.

RUB's weird track block system means that there isn't any Quick-Race-type thing. There's no tournaments in the campaign, no persistent racers or scoring, just nine districts with seven individual races each, so all the races are quick races, kinda. There's no way to set up a race under your own terms... except that's exactly what the track editor lets you do, you just have to make the track yourself first and then you can pick whatever options you like. It's a strange thing. The game very agreeably allows you to get any of the normal achievements on a track that you've designed yourself, which almost gives RUB a construction/puzzle aspect where you have to figure out how to make a track that'll let you cheese the achievements you've yet to get. The 'Creative Destruction' achievement requires you to hit more POWER targets than there are on any pre-set track, so it's definitely not cheating.

Too bad the servers are all down now... we'll never know how popular RUB's multiplayer and city-sharing was. At least one review I've found has mentioned that they had trouble finding people to play multiplayer games with, but that's not really a fair comparison if it was pre-release. Still, at least you can still play your custom cities with your pals today, right! Except the game has no split-screen multiplayer whatsoever. I'm sure there's very, very good reasons why racing games don't include this, but they're all bullshit, let's be real. If a racing game has multiplayer, it should also have split-screen multiplayer. But nope. No RUB with your pals. And with the RUB servers down you can't play online in any way whatsoever. Again, bullshit.

One thing I was hoping for in the full game was a much bigger soundtrack. There's only so many times you can see a suggestion on-screen from Mr. Skillrex that you should Kill Everyone before you start to wonder if the idea has some merit. The verdict is... not great. The soundtrack is good. All the poundy woobly dubstep and some hard electronic fast race music. It starts off mega strong with some cool tracks that are labelled as being from Ridge Racers 6 and 7 as if the game was going to pour in a whole load of older games' music in the name of nostalgia. But I was only 22% of the way through the game before it started looping enough for me to notice. It felt like there was only like eight tracks total in RUB's soundtrack, which was god-damned maddenning. But I didn't cave and turn it off until I'd won! The end credits would have you believe there's a lot more songs, but that seems kinda implausible to me. And the way that there are RR6 and 7 musics included rused me and made me not realise there are no RRUB-specific -new- tracks until I was done! How frickin' cheap is that?? (Also I had a snoop at the complete RR6/7 soundtracks and the tracks they stole for RUB seem like the only good ones from there. Hmm.)

And man was the experience vastly improved by turning the soundtrack off. The game is set up for grinding, with a really half-baked, blah, dull rank up system just like the one in NFS Hot Pursuit (complete with You've Unlocked A New Car! except much much less flashy), but getting three stars on some races means restarting them enough times that you'll hear the entire soundtrack multiple times through before you make it. Driving about the place enjoying the satisfying and solid driving physics and chunky car sounds without the music is so much less stressful after you've gotten the end sequence and know all of the CPU drivers' sneaky tricks and don't really have to worry about nothing no more.

Though there are some really silly inexplicable sound choices that I can't ignore. When you reach your car's maximum speed, the game will continue to have the engine revs rising and cycling through an infinite set of gears to nowhere, and sometimes the same thing happens when you hold the brake and accelerator simultaneously too. It's really silly. It reminds me of a proposal I read once where electric cars would have to have artificial engine sounds fitted - so maybe all the RUB cars are electric?

Don't hold out any hope that you'll be able to get the max level achievements unless somehow you're a RUB freak or want to put the time in to make some high-scoring custom tracks. At the end of the campaign I was level 27, and hit 28 with my here-and-there grinding for achievements. The XP requirements to get from there to 30 are GIGANORMOUS; I think I'd have to win the entire game all over again to get there. Or do the non-existent multiplayer... yeah.

The HUD is plonked around in all corners of the screen, unlike the tiny car-hugging display from the marvelous Split/Second: Velocity and the game feels really different with it turned off. It made me appreciate the effort that must've gone into making the 'bonk woooooh' sound that occurs when you fill up the POWER bar, and the way it cuts through whatever song you're listening to. Too bad I like knowing where I am in the race and stuff though. There's no mini-map while racing, which is kind of a trend in this generation. Boo.

My ultimate judgement on RUB is... actually I really enjoyed it. I liked the strange asymmetric rules in races, and the physics worked for me, and with the exception of the hyper-capricious FRAG challenges the game and I got on well. In the grand scheme of things I'd recommend playing RUB as late as possible, if only because it's kinda difficult and requires patience and focus. But it's not too long and not too nerdy.

The elephant in the room is that there's not a lot of Ridge Raceryness here. Obviously. I'm no expert in RR, I only own the first two on the PS1, but I get the impression that that's what people would like to see in RR - cheesy music, bright colours, race gals. Kara Shindo would kind of be the race gal, but she doesn't start the races, show up at the end of the races, or appear at all except at the start and at the end. There's no daft Pac-Man or Xevious themed cars... oh, no, wait, they're DLC. Oh boy. And the card I got with my preowned copy had already been redeemed. You just have to accept that RUB is its own thing. Having looked at some RR6 and RR7 footage, Ridge Racer's racing mechanics really were kinda deliberately wonky. Unbounded should've stood by itself. But then maybe it would've fallen into the murky void of wannabe also-ran (also-raced?) racing games like Crash Time and Full Auto. Now, if it was called Need For Speed: Unbounded... maybe that would've worked. But then the developers would've had to have put a bit more effort in.

Compared to NFS: HP, it's ugly, dark, really restricted in features and sort of 'discount'. It tries to wring a lot out of the few things it has, but it just ends up feeling somewhat limited and low effort. NFS HP is just so gorgeous and slick, even if it is 'just racing'. There's nothing like the graceful sweeping rollercoaster highways and turns of NFS Underground 1, 2 and Most Wanted and every other NFS ever in RUB, which is really strange. You'd think Ridge Racer would be all over giving you nice turns to ride. All you get here are 90 degree blind turns, and awkward chicanes that are 90 degree turns with sometimes-destructible sometimes-not obstacles you have to memorise how to defeat.

I've been comparing RUB to the NFS games in my head, but maybe I ought to be comparing it to things like Burnout Paradise. I HATE BURNOUT PARADISE COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY so RUB gets an automatic pass, but it's also an earned pass because RUB is actually pretty cool, despite the impression I got from the demo. So there.

And the sample I heard over and over throughout the game which I thought said 'SKRILLEX OH MY GOD.' was from this gal's cup stacking video, which is dang cool.


 Post subject: Re: The Need For The Need For Speed (and Friends!)
PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2022 3:21 
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What-ho, chaps!

Joined: 30th Mar, 2008
Posts: 2135
Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing With Banjo-Kazooie (Demo)
Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed (Demo)
"Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed!"

I've been downloading random garbage on my 360 because I realised that it's by the grace and mostly forgetfulness of Microsoft that the demo system on the 360 still works in this hellish future year of 2022 A.D.. Do you remember when the 360 first came out and almost every full game (and every XBLA game by order) would have a demo, and you could download them all right there in the dashboard without having to get a demo disc from magazine? It was fantastic, and good. Demos are always fantastic, never a problem. DEMOS DEMOS DEMOS.

So I downloaded some demos to take round to a friend's place and realised that I'd only every played Transformed on my bro's PC briefly a million years ago and didn't like it, and I'm pretty sure I've never played All-Stars. Wait, they're both All-Stars aren't they? Like that shitty minigame compilation on the PS2? And the inexplicable tennis one? Is this a series then?

For simplicity's sake, I'm going to call these two games Sonic Racing 1 and Sonic Racing 2 because they're hard enough to tell apart and remember the titles of in my head as it is. They're the Mario Kart clones. 1 is the first one, 2 has the planes. Got it? Let's go.

The one with planes in
I played the second one first when I was going through the demos mostly because I was curious if the game was going to be 60Hz. It wasn't. Huge HUGE disappointment, to be honest. What's the point of making a Sonic game that isn't 60Hz? It seems like the definition of doing it wrong. Sonic Generations was unpleasantly crunchy on the 360 too.

Anyway, yeah this game works. The announcer is kind of dull. He reads out lots and lots of things, mostly the captions acknowledging the stuff you're doing like it's Killer Instinct or something.

I was worried I'd get messed up when the game changed from Car to Boat to Plane - as if there was a button I had to push to make it happen - but no it just happens when you go through magic things on the track, and each lap within a track is slightly different like you're playing Split/Second (which is constantly on sale for £2 BUY IT!!) - sometimes you're on the track, sometimes you're on a river, sometimes in a plane. The boat is like a car except the moving water means you're kind of all over the place and the steering is kind of delayed. The planes are like boats that go in the sky. The controls are really heavy, which is... good? I can't tell. It makes it difficult to do fast, clever things, but you shouldn't be doing that anyway. Does anybody remember the plane racing game Plane Crazy for Windows 98 that came out around... 1998? The controls in that were really loose and twisty, whereas SR2's planes feel really weighty and slow. Which is probably what real planes feel like. In fact, everything is really slow feeling in SR2. You just sort of glide through the experience at a moderate pace, recognising and respecting the level but not having much input on where you go or what you do, and if you win you win, and if you lose you lose.

There's two races in the game, one in Panzer Dragoon world, and a boost challenge where you have to go from pink boost pad to pink boost pad perfectly or you run out of time. I thought I was doing rather well at it, but I couldn't even finish the course, so I felt really lousy. It kind of put me off buying the game entirely - I was already on the fence, but not being able to do challenge-type levels means the game is going to be a big, unfinished lingering sore on my mind forever if I buy it. So I won't.

The one without planes in
I find it kind of amusing the focus given to the Virtua Fighter cast in the intro to SR1. Look, it's... eyebrows guy! And guy in the karate gi! And they're doing kicks and things!

In my own very limited (yet definitive and inassailable) experience as an English kid born in 1987 who doesn't play fighting games unless they're about cats and has never owned a (working) Sega Saturn, Virtua Fighter means absolutely jack to me. At least I've played Golden Axe on the Amiga before. And I did win Shenmue. My bro bought Shenmue 2 when it came out, I remember.

Whenever I put the SR games on (which is incredibly infrequently, given that I don't own either) I'm always pleasantly surprised by the inclusion of Beat, B.D. Joe, Vyse and so on. That's the kind of thing I WANT in a compilation mash-up racing game. But they always pick rubbish characters I've never heard of or don't like. Sega has so many properties, and they just... don't... ever... do anything right.

SR1 has smaller tracks and runs so much worse than SR2 does. At the start of the race when everybody's bunched up and heading for the first corner, everybody drifting at once, semi-transparent water all over the place, the game just gives up entirely and spits out a few random frames like it's an anime fight montage, and when normal service resumes maybe you'll be in front, who can even say.

There's an announcer in SR1, but he's different! And he's got a lot to say - he even properly narrates the race as it goes on, though most of his comments for me were "Where'd you guys learn to drive, a farm??" I don't know why he was being so abrasive, my karts can only kart as fast as they can kart!

After playing the pair, I was wondering if SR1 was even released on other platforms. It's possible that it could've been on the Switch, though it predates the Switch by a million years so it would be the DS in this case. I was surprised to see the N64 Banjos on the Switch Online Thingy when I took a peek at a friend's device - I wonder if that's some really long-term grandfathered contract being honored there, or if Nintendo are licensing it from Microsoft (which would be funny).

It turns out SR1 is on the PS3 and the DS, and what is also funny is that the cover is barely changed between platforms, except when your eyes pass from the Xbox 360 version to the others and Banjo & Kazooie have been annihilated from existence. No doubt Kazooie was cancelled for her humour. Or maybe people took one look at their Nuts & Bolts selves (we've got the rectangular nose Banjo and the sassy eyes-ed Kazooie here) and decided that they had to go. They're not in any version of SR2, which SUCKS balls. I REALLY hate it when characters disappear between different games of the same series. When Smash Bros included all of the DLC characters from the previous edition like Cloud etc. as base characters in the next edition, that was fabulous.

What I don't get is why B&K have full marks for Speed. They're faster than Sonic. Sonic might be the fastest thing alii-ei-ei-ve only when he's on foot, sure, but Banjo is driving a rickety home-made car like out of N&B. Makes no sense!

There's only one track in SR1's demo, which is 'Lost Palace' - otherwise known as Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes. And it's a fine track. It tracks. Though the damn Sonic-legit robo-fish that leap up at you between the jump gaps in the track that you never avoid are annoying as HELL. It turns out that the only bad thing about Sonic Heroes was the controls and the gameplay. Steal the music or graphics and put them into other games, and everything is fine.

Seaside Hill's music is really weird. It sounds like -fake- Sonic music. Like they wanted to do something in the style of Emerald Coast, and that's what they got. It's like the fake movie parody music you get in the Stuntman series (except much higher quality of course).

I liked SR1 more than SR2 because all of the new things that SR2 added weren't really that much fun. So much boring empty space and wasted time. SR1's track was really tiny and was over before I knew it.

Also there were items. I had no idea what they did. Felt like when I was playing WipEout for the first time on MS-DOS. They were just ... stuff.


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