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Ridge Racer V (PS2)
Ridge Racer's PS2 outing was passed over by many for being too jaggy, too uneventful and too restrained for a next-gen videogame. Of course, considering how far Ridge Racer Type 4 had just pushed the PSone, that was understandable. But, returning to it, you realize that expectations were too high, probably as this was a launch game. Namco actually delivered a beautiful racing experience, which looks as good now as it ever did. And now it should be savored - as Namco will likely never make another Ridge Racer game like it.
The atmosphere is superb. Crisp, 3D palm trees along the bay are evocative of early computerized 3D - the sort of visuals that wowed us when we were younger. Modern graphics are often too rounded or thin-looking to give that feeling of excitement - of virtual reality. Ridge V looks like a videogame and that's why its appeal is so timeless.
Of course, it isn't perfect and its shortcomings will alienate casual gamers. But for the hardcore, there are few racers with its atmosphere. Set in and around Ridge City, the tracks all intertwine within the same 3D space. With the sounds of Ridge City FM - and that announcer who oddly pronounces comfort "com fought" - you'll get sucked into its world.
For the hardcore racer, there's the marathon race at the end on the arcade track - with hardly anything as a reward. We'd argue the reward is just playing it. Savor every lap.