The existence of Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer Vita brings with it a question the VGW staff always debates: Is it fair to take a game’s launch price into consideration when passing final judgment? Should game reviews be considered timeless or topical? Game prices frequently drop after a couple months on the shelf, and if a reader stumbles across our critique after this occurs, is our evaluation still relevant?
Fortunately, Ridge Racer Vita makes this quandary a bit easier to deal with, because you shouldn’t pay a dime for this criminal release.
Unfun at any price
Namco Bandai has about 15 bullet points in their Ridge Racer Vita marketing materials. They highlight bonuses like the free “Gold Pass” inside new copies of the game which grants players 5 additional vehicles, 3 extra courses, and 3 new music tracks. But what’s on the actual game card? 3 courses and 5 machines – machines which are identical save for their appearance.
Another “feature” is the complete lack of a single player campaign (with the exception of ghost races), in favor of a bare-bones socially-driven multiplayer mode.
In essence, this boils down to repetitive time-trials on 3 tracks, with the same vehicle. All for the low price of $29.99.
Asphalt 6 for iOS offers more content for $.99; Motorstorm RC on the PS Vita offers more content for free.
The lack of content wouldn’t be such a disgrace if the gameplay didn’t resemble the grind-a-thon mentality present in most freemium games. To stand a chance at winning a race against ghosts or online opponents, you’ll have to significantly upgrade your vehicles. While it’s nice that your upgrades apply to all the vehicles in your garage, the upgrade path itself is a travesty. You’ll repeat lap after lap on uninspired courses to earn credits, only to be forced to spend 3 races worth of credits on a tip box. Yes, a tip box. This “upgrade” you just worked for will give you a rather obvious game tip. The time it takes to unlock upgrades like better nitrous tanks is atrocious. In a freemium game, you might be tempted into dropping a dollar on that upgrade; in Ridge Racer Vita, you’re advised to proceed immediately to your nearest used game chain and sell it while they’re still accepting it.
It’s a shame, because the core of what makes Ridge Racer exciting is still here: Hitting ridiculous speeds and getting sideways around treacherous corners. Unfortunately, you’ll be doing this in what resembles a ghost town until you’ve sunk hours and hours into the game to upgrade your vehicle to a competition-worthy machine. You could be the master of drifting and a Ridge Racer pro, but someone else with more time to burn will destroy you, simply because they have more time; again, a trapping typically associated with a freemium game.
The Bottom Line
It’s our philosophy to not short-change the developers when penning a review. Game makers pour 1000s of hours into their creations, and we’ve always felt a game should be played thoroughly, and most aspects fairly evaluated when putting our judgment on virtual paper. In this case, however, the developers are trying to short-change you, the consumer, and we won’t stand for it. We could continue pointing out the flaws and shocking lack of content, but this has already morphed into a “buyer beware” article instead of a review.
Put simply, Ridge Racer Vita is a disgrace to the iconic franchise, and Namco Bandai should be ashamed at charging $29.99 for this game, much less even $9.99. We can’t recommend this to anyone, not even lifelong Ridge Racer fans.
- Release Date: March 13th 2012
- Genre: Racing (Arcade)
- Platform: PS Vita
- Developer: Namco Bandai
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- ESRB Rating: E10+
- MSRP: $24.99 Digital, $29.99 Retail
Our Score: 1/5
Review Statement: A retail copy of this game was provided to VGW for the purpose of this review.