brilliant Ridge Racer series has set the standards in racing on the PS since
launching along with the system in 1995. Youíll be happy to know that the
legacy continues with R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 (or R4 for short.) This title is
unquestionably, the finest and most ambitious arcade style racer on the
PlayStation. R4 takes what was great about the first three games and adds sim
features, incredible graphics, more tracks, sophisticated track designs and
improved AI to create one of console gamingís best racing experience.
adds serious depth to what was a solid racer. Players face quite a challenge
with over 300 cars to win. Players start by selecting one of the 4 distinct
racing teams. This is important because R4 adds in a cool new RPG type of
interaction to the racing. Youíll have to select carefully as each team has
managers who has their own style and motivation, making each team itís own
challenge. Youíll need to pay attention between races, the manager will
critique your driving, offering their feedback, advice and the occasional
talking to when you barely beat another racer. This is cool and helps to immerse
you further into the game.
of the teams has its own standards and difficulty. On the tougher levels, a
prickly manager may occasionally deny you a new car if they feel you havenít
performed well enough. Each team is distinct. This allows you to win different
cars, even with the same manufacturer. Once you select a racing team, you can
also select from one of 4 different manufacturers as well. Each of the
manufacturers has their own race style of which are tuned to excel at either
drift or grip style racing. The grip cars are good for beginners, while the
drift cars obviously become more fun once youíve mastered the drift technique.
This comprehensiveness and diversity of car designs gives R4 an excellent amount
of depth. Adding these layers of strategy makes R4ís replay value quite high,
if you desire new machines.
youíre done selecting your team and manufacture, the goal of R4 is basically
unchanged from previous games: you must win the grand-prix mode. This involves
racing through a series of 7 courses. These are split into three smaller heats,
in the first you only need to finish third to move on. To advance on the second
heat, you need to finish second and in the final stage, you need to race almost
flawlessly, since only a decisive victory will let you move on to the next
round. If youíre good enough to beat an entire level, youíre awarded with
several new modes, such as mirrored-tracks and even a special time trial where
you race against a super car. Of course, defeating the super-car automatically
places that vehicle in your garage. When you qualify for another race heat,
youíre awarded a new car. Players have to do this for each of the 4 racing
teams. There are more than 300 cars you can earn in the game, making for one
long challenge. While other games
in the series had one main track that branched into different areas, R4 provides
8 unique courses, add in mirror-courses and the total number of tracks leaps to
courses are huge, featuring stunning environments and impressive attention to
detail. Making the tracks even more challenging are more dramatic curves, tight
winding roads with huge hills and accompanying dynamic jumps. R4 also has much
longer tracks, which increase the endurance and challenge. While the previous
games had tracks that were different branches of the same course, R4
significantly improves with more diverse tracks, which arenít interconnected
plus these new courses take place on a wide variety of terrain, ranging from
cities to steep mountains. This helps immeasurably in making long play-sessions
more enjoyable, as the original got a bit tedious after awhile. R4ís track
layouts have much more sophistication, with speed ovals and more difficult
courses providing ample challenge to the driver. Of course, any racing game
would be really boring without anyone to race against. The computer controlled
cars show more aggression than they have in previous games though their actions
and placements are still, to a large degree, very predictable. In other ways, R4
is a more difficult game. Since the cars control with more realistic physics,
players need to be more alert to the more aggressive racers in the game. This
new emphasis on realism has the effect of making this installment the most
addicting yet for players who loved the adrenaline action of the first three but
wanted something more substantive.
limitations of the Playstation are unfortunately, really starting to show in the
anemic visuals many games implement, lets face it Ė after seeing a Voodoo2
card in action, going back to the PSX hardware is a large comedown. However,
Namco has proven time and time again that they are the masters of Sonyís box.
This is readily apparent, because R4ís graphics are visually astonishing and
brilliant, stretching the limits thought nearly unreachable for the PlayStation.
The light-sourcing is absolutely stunning, with light reflections realistically
changing the appearance of your car. The palettes of colors this time show a
degree of sophistication, showcasing brilliant subtle transitions and realism
throughout the courses. R4ís night courses are particularly eye pleasing, with
street lights realistically glowing and lighting the environments. Namcoís
designs of the courses are the best yet with brilliant and realistic
environments making a fantastic series of settings for the racing action. A high
degree of detail is apparent in the detailed textures of the mountains and
landscapes of the game. Even more astonishingly, the backgrounds arenít
static, with flying planes and helicopters hovering overhead and flying birds
flying in the distance Ė all rendered about as realistically as any PS game
has ever done. The car models are also brilliant, with stunning reflections
bouncing off their shiny exteriors, dramatically more realistic car bodies
giving the cars on the track a highly convincing appearance. The cameras in this
edition are more dynamic, with more dramatic angles making the replays that much
more exciting. Adding to the realism are the blurring tail-lights of cars in the
distance - a stunning graphic effect that succeeds in giving R4 a completely
convincing sense of driving at high speeds.
also shines in the control area. This is the first installment in the series
that supports analog controllers, making a vast improvement in responsiveness.
Steering the tight turns and maneuvering to avoid tight corridors is a joy in
this installment. While the controls in the previous games were excellent, fans
of the RR series will notice the how much better R4 controls. Any gamer that has
played other Racer games will feel right at home with R4ís dynamics of
power-drifts combined with heart-pumping pedal to the metal action. The carsí
responsiveness is dramatically improved with better physics and more convincing
reactions. In the earlier games, the cars seemed a bit off, but here they seem
more real-world, they respond the way youíd expect them too and thus
controlling them is more intuitive. Itís difficult to judge the realism of
R4ís more fantasy-oriented cars, such as the 3 wheeled vehicles but, the
overall impression the game exudes is one of realism.
music in R4 is pretty good though not as good as in the earlier games. The
upbeat housey music suits the action of the game, but lacks the drama of Ridge
Racerís harder edged tracks. Another positive is that you can select which
track before each race, giving you control of your car Ďstereoí and also
allowing you to avoid any songs you dislike. The sound effects of the cars
skidding and roaring engines are pretty good as well. The announcer is also
typically, a tad over-excited during the race. Some people find this annoying,
but I found the updates on the race exciting. An overbearingly happy announcer
might seem out of place in something like Need for Speed or Gran Turismo but
fits the feel of the Racer series well.
ďType 4Ē is incredible on itís own merits, Namco has also included a bonus
disc. In addition to some demos, this also includes the complete(!) original
game plus a new deluxe 60fps
version of the now-classic original Ridge Racer. This also allows the player to
see for himself how far the series has come in just four little years. While the
original game has held up well, the newer version looks and feels much better,
with smoother graphics and control. Many of the glitches in the original
conversion have been fixed and some minor improvements have been implemented.
This addition of these freebies just makes this package a must-buy for any
racing fan. However, If youíre lucky enough to spot the limited edition
version with the JogCon, donít hesitate as. As an analog steering device, the
JogCon provides players with an entirely new level of precision racing control.
This controller is basically a standard controller with a dial in the center.
What you basically do is keep your thumbs on the shift buttons and control the
dial using your thumbs. The device uses force-feedback and realistically apes
the resistance youíll get when you crash. You can set the JogCon to different
degrees, and the tension is surprisingly convincing. The JogCon is a comfortable
and highly precise peripheral, its ease of use makes it a worthwhile purchase.
With each installment in the series, Namco sets the bar that much higher Ė and R4 is no exception. Ridge Racer Type 4 is a quantum leap for the series. R4 retains and refines the drift style arcade racing thatís become the seriesí trademark while adding a level of sophistication thatís virtually unparalleled. While Gran Turismo may be more authentic through pushing the simulation elements further, R4 still retains the edge when it comes down to generating that actual excitement and adrenaline rush of racing. R4ís visuals are amazing, showing more detail in car models and the incredible lighting effects than any other PS game to date. While some complained about the linear nature of previous Ridge Racer games, R4 has incredibly imaginative courses and some very cool car designs. This is a highly polished, balanced game with only a few minor flaws. If you havenít played this game yet, youíre missing something great as this is an incredibly dynamic and addicting experience that looks to be unrivaled for quite some time Ė at least until Namco releases itís next Ridge Racer game.
takes its inspiration from the dramatic car chase scenes from 70s cult police
films. Instead of taking on the role of a cop, as is typical, youíre on the
other side of the law. You are the getaway driver and the wheelman. Or are you?
In the plot is is discovered that youíre character Tanner is actually an
undercover cop trying to infiltrate the mob. Any more plot details might ruin
it. Driver has an intriguing concept. As you can tell by the plot, Driver has a
unique approach to the racing genre, it mixes in strategy action and stealth
underlying an interesting plot to make the gaming experience that much more
satisfying. These elements and the mission and goal based play mean that this is
far from a traditional racing game. Driver is set during the 1970s and has an
evocative environment and setting while also implementing state-of-the-art
features and gameplay elements.
fleet of vehicles in Driver features a large assortment of 70ís style muscle
cars. The game also has an accurate portrayal of civilian vehicles in traffic.
The physical appearances of the cars are very impressive, with each showcasing
good lighting effects and stuff. Also exciting are the details in each city,
such as Miamiís long palm tree lined boulevard and the ubiquitous cable cars
indigenous to San Francisco.
a high intensity game such as Driver, the ability to control your car is
essential. Driver delivers a satisfying experience in this department. As the
controls and car physics are tight and very intuitive. Getting good requires
practice but performing extreme driving techniques such as 360s and 180s is a
simple once you understand the mechanics behind the maneuvers. The cars are
responsive and perform well to your motions Ė the game supports the dual-shock
controller, but its use is nearly mandatory as the precision control makes
Driver worlds easier to enjoy.
comes from Reflections, the same team that created the legendary Destruction
Derby series, itís not surprising that the game uses very familiar physics
models and a tweaked graphics engine. It has been updated but the feel of the
crashes is similar. The effects of damage are also surprisingly similar with
small triangles exploding from your car during a collision.
increase Driverís longevity, there are a few mini games. These diversions are
all fun and enjoyable and would be worthwhile as stand-alone games. These
include a pursuit mode in which you have to ram a bad guyís car off the road,
this is fun though it is diametrically opposed to the rest of the game.
The Getaway mode is good practice as you are now on the other side of the
law and have to shake off their Ďtailí. There is also a skill-intensive
ďCross-Town CheckpointĒ mode in which you have to capture flags set up on
the streets in a certain amount of time. Driver also features a handy training
mode that helps acquaint drivers with the basic control and dynamics of their
cars. The training mode is also useful in practicing for your first mission Ė
an Ďauditioní for the underworld to prove your driving skills in a grueling
gauntlet of tasks that must be completed before the timer runs out. Once
youíve beaten this, the real game begins.
main thrust of Driver is its immersive, exciting story mode. In this setting,
players are given missions to accomplish. This gives Driver variety and
entertainment value, as the plot is somewhat intricate and helps to motivate the
player. The actual game is easy to get into. The layout of the screen is
excellent as well uncluttered, the map helps to give you a clear idea where you
are and the position of police. The gameís missions are fairly simple usually,
get from point A to point B in a set amount of time without getting your car
wrecked by the police. This is a difficult task because there are a lot of pigs
floating around the city all looking for you and your car. The way that the
missions are designed is ingenious and itís a high compliment to the designers
that the plot enables what otherwise could become repetitive driving action to
feel more like an action packed police flick with many intriguing plot twists.
In most racing games you just go round and round without a point, here there is
a lot of strategy and character motivation to help drive the player to more
levels and this also helps to keep the excitement level high.
you complete a mission, you then have the option of saving your progress to the
memory card, but this isnít what should excite you. Driver also allows the
player to view a playback of their mission, and gives the player the ability to
play back these using various camera angles and heights. The ability to control
this is astounding and allows you top create your own little action sequences.
It goes without saying that while possibly a little superfluous, this movie
creation feature is quite cool. The interface in this mode is a bit top-heavy,
but worth getting to know.
sounds in Driver are very well done, the voice acting in particular deserves
high marks due to the quality and depth of characterization that it provides to
the player. Gamers will quickly find themselves entirely immersed in the plot.
Driverís sound effects are excellent, with accurate burnout, engine, with
standard and hand-braking accurately portrayed. Driverís honking horns and
police sirens are also well produced. Driverís main soundtrack attraction is
its high quality, funky disco-style soundtrack that makes your feet shuffling
while youíre hustling. The funky tunes really evoke the disco era, and the
soundtrackís switch to more urgent faster beat tracks when you are being
pursued feels movie like and helps to draw up your adrenaline during the big
chase. The music is quite good, though just donít keep your speakers up loud,
people may think youíre a leftover freak.
most impressive technological achievement of Driver are its expansive and
interactive dynamic environments. The realistic, large detailed cities
represented in virtual form include Miami New York San Francisco and Los
Angeles. Since the game takes place in the 70ís, there isnít a frickiní
Starbucks to be found anywhere in these urban jungles. These are really huge
areas and exploring them takes a lot of time. Each city is fairly unique and it
pays to drive around and case it before you play to learn the ins outs and
shortcuts of each metropolis. The cities all have a realistic traffic system,
which means there is oncoming traffic and accurate street layouts. The little
things make a huge difference, while the accurate stop-light system adds only a
little to the game early on, it definitely adds to the realism of the game in
later levels. There are even onscreen pedestrians who run away when you steer
your car to the sidewalk. These areas are huge, and when I say huge, I mean true
size of the city huge. Itís a great accomplishment that they were actually
able to squeeze in four full-scale cities into a single Playstation disc. Even
more importantly, it also helps the gameplay because these large environments
help to keep the game fresh and exciting by allowing you to see different parts
of the city during your missions.
graphics in the game are excellent, if a little blurry. They visuals arenít up
to the standards set by Gran Turismo or Ridge Racer 4, but to cut Driver some
slack, the game is simulating a full city, not just a track. For a design this
ambitious, the gameís performance is more than acceptable. Driverís
environments display detailed bitmaps of an impressive number of convincing
buildings. Driverís street designs give the player a lot to think about and
their versatility adds lots of longevity to the game. Thereís good amount of
variety in the cities with long straight boulevards, intersections and short
cuts shown accurately. Driver also accurately simulates night and day driving to
help make the visuals more interesting. There are loads of different cars and
they all look great as well, their variety of vehicles also helps to make the
street travelling seem more realistic as well. Buying the game even more pints
are the collisions and crashes, which like those in The Destruction Derby series
veer from the merely average to the truly spectacular. One of the coolest
holdovers from the DD series is the realistic way that the cars show damage, the
physics here are truly impressive as trunks crumple, wheels go out and
collisions do a lot of believable damage. This gives Driver a cool edge and adds
a bit of excitement to the game.
is a great game, though there are some annoyances that slightly hinder the fun.
The graphics in the game feel a bit washed out and blurry Ė a feature endemic
to PlayStation titles lately, itís more a function of hardware limitations and
advancing technology than a lack of talent. The game does have a few issues with
how it plays, some of the missions are very difficult and must be replayed often
in order to figure them out. Driverís mapping function is a great help, but
sometimes it leads you down the wrong street causing you to lose a mission,
basically you have to memorize which streets lead where. The biggest problem
with the game is that Driver demands almost flawless performance from the gamer
at almost every turn Ė giving players the bare minimum time, making one minor
mistake destroys any chance of successfully completing the mission. Still, with
perseverance and gaming skill, most players will be able to eventually beat the
- Michael Palisano