Rocket-powered hydro jets return in a sequel to one of the most impressive water-based racers in years. Riptide GP: Renegade proves that Vector Unit are masters of the genre but does it make a bigger splash than its predecessor?
About a year and a half ago, I reviewed Riptide GP2. In short, I was blown away by the simplistic yet exciting gameplay and this follow-up thankfully carries over everything that made it so special. Not only that, there are many improvements that'll impress anyone who already played GP2. If you haven't then here's a quick description of what to expect. Basically, you race around on a rocket-powered hydro jet while performing tricks to fill your boost gauge. These stunts are deployed by tilting both sticks in various directions whenever you're airborne. It's simple, easy to pick up and play, and above all else; a heck of a lot of fun! On top of that, the developers somehow made this sequel even more enjoyable so let's take a deeper look at what makes it a worthy successor.
Riptide GP: Renegade boasts some fantastically gorgeous visuals for an indie racer. Everything is crystal clear with detailed environments, smooth animation, and beautiful water complete with stomach-churning waves. One of the best aspects of the graphics is the incredible sense of speed. Just like in GP2, water splashes, blur effects, and streamlines make racing feel intense. Sound effects of engines revving add to the intensity as well but the soundtrack unfortunately suffers from the same issue as the previous game in the series. For a racer, you'd expect adrenaline-pumping music but all you get here is mostly generic electronic tunes.
Although Riptide GP: Renegade doesn't include as many tracks as GP2 (there are nine compared to thirteen), they sure are amazing. You'll come across many scenes that seem like they're ripped straight from an action movie such as boats crashing into ramps and a fleet of warships firing their artillery into the air. The tracks themselves range from these crazy futuristic scenarios to tranquil floral fountains, an amusement park, and a forest fire. Performing tricks off of fallen tree trunks is just plain fun.
As you work your way through the lengthy career mode, you'll take on various events that include Race, Freestyle (where tricks translate into points), Slalom, Elimination, and Career Championship (which consists of multiple events). Acquiring new characters and hydrojets while purchasing upgrades and learning new tricks is a rewarding process. Additionally, you can race your friends' ghosts in challenge mode, do a quick race against computer opponents either solo or with up to four local players, and race online (which is fantastic because you couldn't in GP2). There's definitely enough content here to keep you busy for a very long time.
My biggest problem with Riptide GP: Renegade is that it doesn't do enough to set itself apart from the previous installment. Sure, it's a lot better in almost every way, but the core gameplay remains almost identical. I wish the developers added a gimmick or something to make it feel fresh because the basic gameplay only stays enjoyable for so long. Honestly, even though I loved playing through this, I couldn't help but feel that it was just a remastered expanded version of GP2. My other main complaint is that career mode gets quite difficult yet it has a very linear progression. I wish I could challenge all of the events in a group at any time and move on once I pass most of them. Instead, you have to work through one by one so if you ever get stuck then you'll have to keep trying until your finger goes numb. After a while, you may lose interest and give up on your quest to win the championship altogether.
Riptide GP: Renegade is a huge improvement for the series and I can't wait to see what the folks at Vector Unit come up with next. If you're even slightly interested in a futuristic hydrojet racer then you need to download this now.
- + Intense water-based racing gameplay that's more enjoyable than ever
- + Beautiful visuals and sense of speed
- + Loads of content and awesome tracks
- - Linear progression in career mode makes the more difficult events very annoying
- - Music is still rather generic
- - Core gameplay is basically the same as GP2