Ridge Racer Type 4

released on Dec 03, 1998
by Namco

R4: Ridge Racer Type 4 is the fourth game in the Ridge Racer series. There are 8 tracks (with reverse variants, for a total of 16 layouts) and 321 vehicles, all of which are fictional. This iteration was one of the first games on the PlayStation to feature gouraud shading on the polygons, giving the game a visual depth that was previously missing. It was also the first Ridge Racer game on the Sony system to feature a two-player split screen mode, and featured two different driving models.

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This is the only racing game I know of that has incorporated a theme, in this case the idea of a “turning point” and implementing it into all these different aspects to create a unified and beautifully made game. The gameplay is centered around drifting around corners and turns; the managers you meet are in what can be called turning points in their lives and as the Prix progresses move on from the past and towards the future; the final race of the Grand Prix takes place on the last day of 1999, the literal turning point between two millenniums; and of course this being the last Ridge Racer on the PS1, serving as a turning point for the series. The fact that this game released with a 60 FPS version of Ridge Racer 1 to show how far the series has come on the same platform really ties everything together as well. Overall a phenomenal title and my favorite racer. also has good music.

Best played with the NeGcon controller. Arcade racing at its finest, just a fantastic piece of the PS1 legacy.

People rate this game on vibes alone. I won't lie the vibes are strong with this one, but it's overall marred by the corniest and most cringely executed story in a racing game ever, nonsensical replay value structure, and the fact that, as a Ridge Racer title, this one is pretty mid. The game omits out the upgrade system of Rage Racer or really any freedom to choose what to do next, you're simply dragged from race to race w some dialogue scenes sprinkled in, until it's over. The game is extremely short so, as if to compensate for this, four story arcs are included, but you're taken on the exact same courses each time. You're essentially tricked into playing through the game four times. There's little sense of speed and the drifting also seems to be worse, feels.. stuttery somehow. Honestly it felt like the drifting became slightly worse with each PS1 installment, I didn't mind this in Rage Racer since I felt I was getting something in exchange, but not so with "R4."
Another thing I was hung up on was that the courses weren't connected, which to me was like, it defeats the point of calling it a Ridge Racer title! It's too much just like any other racing game at that point. Granted, this would go on to become the norm for Ridge Racer games (Ridge Racer V would be the last one to do it) but that feels like Namco retconning this game to seem less bad by making future games unremarkable.
I always felt as though there should one day be a remake of this game that addresses the issues, and a better story. But it's admittedly futile seeing as everyone likes this game already, and a game already exists called R Racing Evolution which I've only played briefly but is uncomfortably close to being a spiritual remake of R4, but with even more Ridge Racer elements removed, and still cringey. Any future effort is unlikely to fare better.

Not a racing fan but R4 makes me want to become one.