The closed beta of Ridge Racer Driftopia launched on Thursday, introducing gamers to the first free-to-play instalment in the once-legendary racing franchise. Beta keys are being made available to Steam users on the official website now, ahead of the game’s official launch on PlayStation 3 and PC later this year.

Driftopia is under development at Finland’s Bugbear Entertainment, the same studio behind last year’s Ridge Racer Unbounded, which we said was enjoyable but “lacks that special polish” in our April 2012 review. Driftopia, though, promises a “distilled” experience with upgraded graphics and a focus on the series’ “signature drifting and arcade handling”.