When I purchased this game, I expected a Ridge Racer experience: alien vehicles drifting at impossible angles and blinding speed in every curve with a very passionate commentator. Ridge Racer™ Unbounded is none of those things.
This game differs from the rest of the series. A lot. You can actually drift off into wall and crash your car, or bump into your opponents in an attempt to take them out. There's a handful of game types you can play, from your typical race to the finish where drifting fills up your boost meter (Shindo racing), to causing as much damage to the city as you pass through it, including your opponents (Domination race).
Each car has a unique feel to it, although most of them just slide all over the place, or can barely turn at all. The lower the "Drift", and the higher the "Handling", the easier to drive!
The graphics are simply beautiful. The attention to detail is remarkable, from the different shops in the city to the spot-on reflections on the cars. The weather changes the look and feel of the track in an immersive way, although there is no precipitation. My only complaint is that lighting effects are sometimes blindingly intense, especially at night, to the point where wearing sunglasses would almost make sense.
The music is upbeat and powerful, unfortunately we do not get a set of original tracks this time around. Ridge Racer™ Unbounded borrows a few tracks from previous games in the series, as well as songs from other artists.
The game features a fairly simple track editor, which reminds me of Accolade's Grand Prix Unlimited (DOS). Published tracks are uploaded online, where everyone has access to them. That's an infinity of maps to play on! I must admit, however, that most people are very uncreative when it comes to making custom tracks, but there's always a few gems in there. You just gotta find them!
Unfortunately, I can't say much about the multiplayer experience. You can invite people from your Steam friends to play with you, but don't expect anyone else to join your game.
I've encountered a few bugs here and there (glitching graphics, flipping cameras when boosting during a collision, and one area where you can drive off the map), but nothing major or game breaking.
What I'd love to see in this game would be a better controller support (for non-Xbox 360 controllers), rural-themed tracks, and maybe a multiplayer lobby where all players can actually see who's online and play together!
Overall, Ridge Racer™ Unbounded's title can be misleading, but it's still tons of fun, and has a high replayability value for a modest price. I recommend it to anyone who'd love a neat little pick-up-and-play urban-racing game.