UK REVIEW--Being a video game fan can sometimes be a little frustrating. If it's not games saddled with archaic digital rights management or console manufacturers trying to figure out ways of killing the secondhand game market, it's publishers trying to squeeze more cash out of you with downloadable content. Most of the time, DLC is a great thing, giving you more of the content you love without having to shell out for another full-priced release. At other times, it's simply an excuse to gouge as much money out of you as possible.
Driving sideways; the new driving forward.
Case in point: Ridge Racer on the PlayStation Vita. Its twitchy, drift-happy racing is still as fun as ever, but in an effort to sell you more DLC, the core game is devoid of content. There's no single-player campaign, a mere five cars, and just three circuits--all of which have been lifted from Ridge Racer 7. Even if you pick up the first set of DLC (free with the initial batch of retail copies, or until March 31 for digital downloads), you gain just a handful of extra cars and tracks--again all already featured in Ridge Racer 7. This means that even with all the extras, there's still little here to engage all but the most hardcore of fans.
The game's lack of content is apparent as soon as you open up the main menu. Its swishy, swipe-based interface looks pretty, but flick past the many options, ranking, and trophy icons to the section entitled "Race" and you spot just three entries: Spot Race, Time Attack, and World Race. Spot Race lets you jump straight onto a circuit with AI opponents, Time Attack lets you compete for the best lap time, and World Race features the game's multiplayer modes. Multiplayer consists of Ghost Car Battles (with lap times exchangeable via Near), Online Battle for up to eight players, or Face-to-Face Battle for local races via Wi-Fi.
None are particularly engaging, especially as there are just three tracks to race on, all of which come from Ridge Racer 7: Southbay Docks, Highland Cliffs, and Harborline 765. You can race them in reverse, but that's a poor substitute for different circuits or--heaven forbid--some brand new ones. They're not even especially attractive either, lacking any sense of personality or style. This is not the game to get if you want to show off your shiny new Vita's graphical prowess. Even with the added challenge of human opponents in multiplayer, the tracks get very tiresome, very quickly, with the lack of a proper offline campaign mode just adding to the boredom.
Master Ridge Racer's drift mechanic and you'll be too far ahead of the pack for close scrapes like this one.