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Ridge Racer Type 4
reviewed by Donald Melanson

For a considerable length of time, one area where the PlayStation had a major advantage over the N64 was in the racing genre. And one of the primary reasons for its superiority was Namco's Ridge Racer series. The gap between the two systems has since narrowed, but the PlayStation being a few years older than the N64 makes what Ridge Racer Type 4 accomplishes all the more impressive.

R4Continuing Namco's tradition of packing everything they possibly can into each game, Ridge Racer Type 4 gives plenty of bang for the buck. In addition to the R4 game CD, Namco also includes a second disc with an enhanced version of the first Ridge Racer game, as well as a handful of playable and non-playable demos. If you're lucky enough to have a PocketStation, R4 supports it as well.

Graphically, the game is stunning. It can't compare to the latest 3D-accelerated PC game but it's about as good as things are going to get on the PlayStation. (However, given what developers have pulled off in the past, I may end up eating those words.) If Namco can do this on a system as old as the PlayStation, I can't wait to see what they'll come up with on the PlayStation 2.

R4On the downside it seems that these graphics left little room on the disc for CD audio, which has just about become a standard for this type of game. What we get instead is acceptable but not outstanding. The sounds are all very good and contribute to the excellent atmosphere of R4.

Don't get too excited about the mention of over 300 cars, these are mostly slight variations on different car models. There are actually 48 unique cars, which is still far more than most games. Some of the bonus cars are quite unique, including a hover car, a tiny beetle-esque vehicle, and a very hard to get Pacman car (with it's own music).

There are two groups of cars in R4, drift and grip, and each suits a different type of player. Although you'll have to master both in order to gain access to the numerous cars available. Which brings us to the issue of replayability. There's loads of it.

Players start with only eight cars and gain additional ones by winning the grand prix with different teams and different car manufacturers (there are four teams and four manufacturers). The better you do the better the car you'll get. Which may make it sound like the game gets easier the more you play it, but it actually gets harder because each time your car gets upgraded so does the computer opponents'.

R4The only complaints I have are, like the lack of CD music above, most likely due to technical limitations. One of which is the number of tracks, and the variety among them. There are eight and a couple of them "merge", so to speak. And given the many other bonuses given to us, it would have been nice to have an unorthodox track or two. (a futuristic city to go with the hover car anyone?).

Despite these minor issues, Ridge Racer Type 4 is without question, one of the best arcade racers around, on any system. If you have even a passing interest in the genre, you can't go wrong with this one.

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Donald Melanson is the editor of Mindjack Magazine and is constantly learning on the job.

The writer of this article welcomes your comments: