The old adage of "if it aint broke, don’t fix it" has been flogged like the proverbial dead horse within the video games industry, particularly over the last few years.
Identikit titles have sprung up here there and everywhere in the guise of sequels, homages and blatant, obscene rip offs.
Which brings us quite nicely to Ridge Racer 2 on Sony’s sleek PSP. With its older brother’s glorious handheld debut still fresh in our memories, we’d have expected acres of newsprint dedicated to its sequel. But no, there’s been next to nothing said about it.
Odd, we thought. Surely the sequel to one of the best handheld racers of all time (only beaten by the Mario Kart and F Zero series) should be heavily previewed by every gaming magazine and website out there?
Well, it seems Namco didn’t want to let us in on their little secret. That is, Ridge Racer 2 is basically the first title with a few minor tweaks. Just think Airplane 2, but without the naked flesh sadly.
Having said that, the original was so great maybe it just didn’t need fixing?
The "innovation" shown in this particular sequel could quite easily be secreted in the excess space in Scarlet Johansson’s bra. In other words, there’s none at all.
The menus keep the same stylish and minimalist form that looked so gorgeous last year. In fact, all the graphics are exactly the same. That’s one place that the old adage applies. Ridge Racer looked great so why fix it?
But the likenesses don’t stop there. Once again the majority of your time will be spent chalking up wins in the World Tours mode – or career mode in other words – each playing out in the roughly the same manner. You start off at the back of the grid, edge your way past the competition and eventually cross the line in top spot. Schumi eat your heart out.
The AI hasn’t changed either. Your rivals will stick doggedly to the racing line, meaning you’ll be shunted off with alarming regularity. Did someone mention Michael Schumacher previously? Hmmm … The difficulty level also ramps up dramatically half way through, meaning yet more presses of the restart button.
But Ridge Racer 2 is still a damn joy to play. Realistic driving games are great, but sometimes you just want to pull off a 200 yard power slide around a corner and fire off a nitrous boost to power past your opponents. If only Schumi had one over the weekend, eh?
There’s the odd new driving mode thrown in. Survival sees the person in last spot unceremoniously dumped out of the race, Duel sees you race a similar spec car one on one, while Arcade plays out, well, basically like an arcade racer as you top up your time limit by flying through checkpoints.
So is Ridge Racer 2 for you? If you love the series and desperately crave more action then you’ll lap it up. But if you expect something a little fresh, wait till it’s down at a budget price point. It’s great, but not worth £35 when it’s basically a slight tune up of last year’s glorious effort.