By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne Rating: Awesome Ridge Racer Type 4 is a game that racing fans will either love or hate. If you are a hardcore Gran Turismo fan, then you may not feel it has enough options, upgrades, etc. On the contrary, if youíre a fan of arcade-style racing games, then youíll fall in love with this game the second after you indulge in the intro sequence. My opinion is that R4 is a game that canít be missed. The graphics in R4 are top notch, especially considering that they're on a four-year-old system. Yes, R4 even has better graphics than Gran Turismo does. If you couldnít help but say "Wow!" when you saw your first race replay in Gran Turismo, youíre going to drool all over the floor when you see R4. The lighting is excellent, with beautiful streetlights and shiny new cars that reflect pretty rays of light if the camera hits them at the right angle. Oh, and who could forget the streaks of light your tail- lights give off when drifting on a big U-turn? The environments are also superb, with helicopters, bridges, and mountains as far as the eye can see. One complaint with the graphics is that sometimes the tail-light streaks of other cars can be seen through solid objects in the road like hills, but it's easy to ignore this glitch. Also, it doesnít bother me at all that the cars arenít real licensed cars. I prefer cars that can be damaged over cars with meaningless little logos on them any day. Control is tight and responsive in R4. I had a chance to use the new Namco Jogcon controller with the game (Iím still trying to figure out what the Jog in Jogcon means), and it definitely takes the control to a new level. Some may think that itís not worth it, but I found myself winning a lot more races when I used the Jogcon than when I used my regular analog controller. Thatís not to say that the regular analog controller can't be used to play this game (because it definitely can), it's just much smoother with the Jogcon. The little wheel in the center of the Jogcon is really cool to steer with, and it lets you know exactly when to push the pedal to the metal when coming out of a drift. Any way you slice it, R4ís control is probably the best Iíve felt in any racing game. The control is the number one reason R4 is so fun to play. Namco can boast about R4's 300+ cars all they want, but the truth is that they took about 50 different cars and just gave them all about six different paint jobs. For some reason, this is supposed to make you want to keep playing the Gran Prix mode until you get all 316 cars. The question is, "Who cares?" I didn't feel compelled to get all 260-some cars in Gran Turismo, so what makes Namco think they can entice me to collect 316 cars when most of them are just minor variations of other cars? This is a very weak attempt at giving the game more replay value. The tracks in R4 also leave something to be desired. Taking the same track, giving it multiple paths, and blocking off all the paths but one in any given race is something I am beginning to see a lot in racing games. Attention developers: THIS IS A BAD THING. Itís just plain lazy and unforgivable to re-hash the same track over and over again instead of making a decent amount of tracks. Still, Namco doesn't commit this sin in R4 anywhere near as badly as it did in the original Ridge Racer. Also, the tracks that are here are very imaginative and feel fresh when compared to Gran Turismo's tracks. The music tracks in R4 are your typical Ridge Racer fare. However, it seems to me that the tunes are a little more mellow and not as techno- oriented as the original game's music. This change is a welcome one if you consider it a change in the first place. The sound effects are average. The engines are semi-convincing and the screeches are a nice addition, but itís nothing that hasnít been done time and time again in other racing games. Since the cars aren't licensed and don't have to be 100% realistic, I would have liked to hear more powerful engine roars to get me more excited about the races, but I was still pretty excited as it was. R4 is the best racing game I've played all year. The lack of licensed cars doesnít take away from the game tremendously as the majority of racing game fans would think. Focus on the excellent control and graphics and you'll find that this game stands out among all the stale, boring racing games infesting the PlayStation and the Nintendo 64. If you love arcade- style racing games, Ridge Racer Type 4 is more than likely going to be in your PlayStation for the majority of the summer.
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