Water-based racing games are becoming an increasingly underrepresented genre so thank Poseidon that Riptide GP2 is here. As you speed through each race on your rocket-powered hydro jet, you'll find it difficult not to enjoy every moment.
After being educated via a brief tutorial, you'll be pleasantly surprised how simple the controls are. Besides braking, accelerating, boosting, and steering, you can also perform stunts. These are executed by tilting both sticks in various directions. After landing a successful stunt, your boost meter fills. You've probably played games with very similar controls countless times before but Riptide GP2's controls are incredibly intuitive. Every command is responsive and immediately satisfying. In other words, this racer is less about gimmicks and more about straight-up fun without the need for superficial mechanics.
Although Riptide GP2 may not appear truly next-gen, its graphics are easy on the eyes. Water looks realistic enough as it gently rocks your stationary watercraft before the race starts and glistens in the sun as you speed through. Your racer is animated seamlessly since he or she tilts their entire body as you steer and performs some remarkable stunts whenever you command them to do so. As you race, you'll feel an intense sense of speed as a result of effects such as streamlines and water splashing on the screen. The included thirteen tracks consist of a variety of innovative futuristic environments. You'll find yourself racing in suspended waterways, waterfalls on the sides of skyscrapers, frozen caves complete with icebergs, and even late at night around a CIA-esque complex. Each track is cleverly rendered in a way that will make you feel like a true outlaw racer.
The audio effects add even more satisfaction to the overall experience. Your engine's revving is loud enough to distinguish yet is never overbearing. Subtleties such as hearing a splash as your craft lands from being airborne and how certain track installations make noise as you pass underneath help to suck you in to the race even further. Although the effects are spot-on, the music leaves a lot to be desired. It's not bad, but to be blunt, it just sounds like generic electronica. There's no musical piece that will get your adrenaline going, so it's safe to say that the soundtrack simply doesn't live up to the gameplay.
Riptide GP2 contains three modes in the form of career mode, VR challenge, and local multiplayer. In VR challenge, you race on a track as your ghost is recorded and you can invite your friends to do the same and race each other's ghosts. The more friends that you beat, the more heavily rewarded you are. Even though this is the only form of online multiplayer, it's pretty intriguing as it's a new way to challenge your friends without actually racing them. Local multiplayer can be played by up to six people at once with the screen being divided appropriately. It's a nice addition for players who have multiple controllers and friends who also enjoy racing.
Let's talk about the meat of the game; career mode. As you race through various events such as normal races, time trials, elimination races, and stunt challenges, you'll be rewarded stars, cash, and experience according to how well you did. The stars are used to unlock further events as you would expect. Cash is used to purchase and upgrade hydro jets while experience is used to unlock more stunts and improvements for your character. Further unlocked stunts may be trickier to pull off but will provide you with more boost power for doing so. Considering the massive array of stunts and how satisfying they are to execute, you'll want to keep unlocking more as you progress. Events can get very challenging, but you can always grind to earn more cash and level up in order to overcome anything.
You may have a lot of fun with Riptide GP2, but it does have its flaws. You'll find that your level will increase much more frequently than you can afford to unlock and upgrade vehicles since that requires a decent chunk of change. This, along with the fact that you can use any hydro jet in any race, makes the progression system quite unbalanced. If you grind to afford an expensive craft then you'll quickly find out how much easier the events are. Also, you can go back and beat previous events with no problem whatsoever after you advance far enough. To remedy these issues, the developers should have limited events to certain vehicles, had vehicles unlock automatically upon levelling up, and made money just used for upgrades. Sometimes placing limitations on players is a good thing as it creates a more balanced sense of progression. The only other complaint is that you can only crash by unsuccessfully performing stunts. If you slam into a wall as hard as you can, you'll keep racing as if nothing happened. This is annoying because it allows you to be less careful and it would have added to the challenge if you were forced to drive more carefully.
Riptide GP2 is a fantastic watercraft racer with simplistic controls and instantly satisfying gameplay. It may have its flaws, but there's no denying the amount of fun you'll have boosting past your opponents on your rocket-powered hydro jet.
- + Solid gameplay with tight controls, satisfying stunt system, and potent sense of speed
- + Lengthy and challenging career mode
- + Inventive variety of great looking tracks
- - Money and experience systems make for unbalanced character progression
- - Generic music isn't fitting for intense racing
- - The only way to crash is by performing stunts