Ridge Racer Unbounded may have had more in common with Split/Second than Ridge Racer, but it was still a hugely fun game, particularly if you jumped online and tried out some of the incredibly creative challenges people had put together with the built-in track editor.
Bugbear Entertainment, the Finnish developer behind Unbounded -- and, more recently, its disappointing free-to-play adaptation Driftopia -- seems to have a bit of a thing for cars driving very fast and slamming into one another with great force. As a matter of fact, the studio has focused exclusively on chaotic racing games ever since its inception in 2000, and has a number of strong titles to its name besides Unbounded -- most notably, the FlatOut series and one of the few Nokia N-Gage games actually worth playing: Glimmerati.
Having seemingly left Ridge Racer Driftopia back in the hands of publisher Namco Bandai, Bugbear is already getting stuck into its next project. Currently known simply as Next Car Game, the team is aiming for an early 2014 release on PC -- console versions may follow -- but has already started its own early access campaign for those who want to support the upcoming title.
Bugbear isn't going the Kickstarter route with Next Car Game, though; instead, it's handling its promotional efforts entirely through its own website. While the campaign is positioned as a "preorder" rather than a crowdfunding drive, there are a number of tiers available for those who wish to pledge their support, much like a typical Kickstarter. Rewards vary from early access to the game later this year and getting your name in the credits right up to a $1,000 package that gives you the chance to design your own in-game paint job and have it featured in the final product.
But there are lots of racing games out there, I hear you say. Why should I pay any attention to Bugbear's effort? Well, I say to you, oh hypothetical reader, besides the team's proven track record (no pun intended) in exciting racing games with exaggerated physics, Next Car Game sounds as if it's going to be the game Bugbear has always wanted to make, but hasn't been able to until now.
Bugbear specifically draws reference to the FlatOut series' sophisticated damage modelling and physics engine, and notes that the technology of 2013 allows them to achieve what they really wanted to do with FlatOut back in the early 2000s. The game is a full-contact racer that also includes dedicated demolition derby events, and unlike many other racers, it features banged-up old rustbuckets as its driveable vehicles rather than shiny new sports cars. The vehicles draw inspiration from classic American muscle cars as well as European and Asian runarounds from yesteryear, and all will be fully customizable. In fact, says Bugbear, the game will be as much about upgrading, modifying and maintaining your garage as it will be about racing and crashing -- and online races will be an opportunity to show off your tricked-out old banger as much as they are about dominating the opposition.
The team's built its own custom engine for the game that includes destructible environments plus real-time vehicle damage with no predefined damage models. There's no word on whether or not the game will feature FlatOut 2's ragdoll physics that allow you to fling your driver through their vehicle's windshield, but it just wouldn't feel quite right without it, so let's hope it's in there. If you feel similarly strongly, backing the project will allow you to submit your own suggestions and requests directly to Bugbear via the game's official forums.
Preordering the game starts from $25 -- the full game will cost $30 on release -- and once the team has received 10,000 orders they'll release an early version to everyone who has shown their support. In the meantime, you can follow the game's progress and find out more via the official website.