The original release of PSP's Ridge Racer 2 could be criticised for being almost exactly the same game as its predecessor, only with a few more tracks and modes. However, that doesn't really matter today, especially now it's one of the rare Ridge Racer titles playable on modern consoles. With its one blemish now moot, what we're left with is some of the most joyous, stylish, and satisfying arcade racing available — if you're a PS Plus Premium member.
Essentially a series "greatest hits", this game cherry-picks courses and music from previous entries and features dozens of increasingly speedy vehicles to whip around all those sweeping corners. For fans in 2023, this is about as good as you can hope for — all the classics are here, and it's presented with crisp upscaled visuals, though it is a slight shame some elements remain untouched.
Ridge Racer's core appeal lies in its emphasis on over-the-top, beautifully smooth, endlessly fun power-sliding, and it feels just as good now as it did back in 2006 on PSP. There's nothing on today's market that provides such instantly rewarding arcade racing — it just feels fantastic to play. The boost mechanic also made its debut here, adding a small but appreciated extra layer to the action.
Its structure is very simple, with a series of World Tours comprising two or three races which require you to zoom from last to first. However, in an age where many racing titles are pushing open world extravagance, the stage-based approach is refreshing. A handful of other modes let you play single races, elimination, and time attack, and aside from gradually unlocking new cars, that's your lot.
Sadly, any multiplayer options have been stripped away, and so have the prizes for completing each World Tour, which rewarded you with things like opening movies for old Ridge Racer games. The only other frustration comes from AI drivers, who can be tricky to overtake. All in all, though, this is easily among the best classic games on PS Plus Premium. This is a timely reminder that, at their peak, arcade racers can easily rank among the most enjoyable video games you can play.