The central system that powers it all sees you charging up your Destruction ability by drifting (there it is!), chasing, and grabbing air time. The game then shows you various points of interest tagged around the streets of Shatter Bay, and if you have enough juice you can interact with them – in other words, you can plough straight into a skyscraper and emerge unharmed.
Some are short cuts, some are drafts, and when you've found and unlocked them all you can still have a lot of fun nudging rivals off bridges, or seeing what happens when you drive through lamp-posts.
It's easy to read this as a Split/Second rip-off but the approach is more distinct than it seems. Black Rock's game had you fundamentally reshaping the track in massive pre-recorded cinematic explosions: the game planted the charges and you just decided when to set them off.
Bugbear's opting for a little less apocalypse – you'll be punching new routes through the landscape and knocking cars out of the race, rather than igniting entire city blocks – and is also building on the studio's knack for procedural damage. The result is a more authentically chaotic approach which should render each collision a one-off.
"We are really good at smashing things up," says Laakso, when asked if Shutter Bay will lose its appeal after you've found the main points of destructive interest.
"The environments we've built have been built to be broken down. The competition has pre-set destruction, everything we have is dynamic: they do set-pieces, we do simulation and see what happens."
Shatter Bay is the last major piece of the puzzle for now: a stylish blend of New York and Chicago that has you competing first to win races and then to dominate each course by blowing through all of its secret routes.There's plenty of room to explore and the whole place seems slick and fit for purpose.
"Ridge City was built for clinical driving and insane drifts," says Laakso. "Shutter Bay is about carnage and risk-taking."
After that there's multiplayer, presumably. Heavy, if enigmatic, hints towards the end of the latest demo suggest that there will be some way of pitting your version of the city against other players' creations. Visual leader board? Autolog equivalent? We may find out at E3.
Reading between the lines, it's tempting to suggest that Namco's moving towards a state where there are Ridge Racers rather than one single Ridge Racer, with the publisher possibly repositioning the brand as a kind of catch-all for driving games.
This technique worked for EA but it's slightly trickier here. Because while the Need for Speeds rewrote some of the rules each year, Ridge Racer almost always meant something specific.
Bugbear is certainly aware it's in for a battle, at least: the latest trailer breathlessly announces that "this is going to hurt", and in comments threads around the world fans are already trying to inflict wounds.
Are they right to? Possibly, but it's worth holding off with those petitions, for the moment at least. Ridge Racer or not, Unbounded's interesting enough – and promising enough – to warrant a closer look.