Riptide GP 2 (Vector Unit, 2013)

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Riptide GP 2 is a futuristic jet-ski racer that was originally for Android and iOS  devices but later released for Xbox One and PC. I know that PC ports of mobile games have a somewhat chequered past and are usually held in quite low regard but don’t be so quick to judge this one. This isn’t some quick and dirty hack designed to wring a few pennies from the Steam wallets of the unsuspecting. Riptide GP 2 is actually a decent game that just happened to come out on mobile first.

It was developed by Vector Unit, the people who made Hydro Thunder Hurricane; a game that I’ve spoken about on this site before and really enjoyed. This game uses some of the same technology but is actually very different in style. One of the main features of Hydro Thunder Hurricane was being able to find alternate routes through the courses. The Riptide GP series has much more enclosed circuits with very few hidden paths, choosing to emphasise performing stunts instead. The stunts serve as a way of earning a speed boost and they’re very simple to perform. Each trick is triggered with a set combination of analogue stick inputs and the more complex the manoeuvre the more boost you get. You’re also penalised with diminishing rewards for repeating stunts so variety is important too.

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One aspect of family resemblance between this game and Hydro Thunder Hurricane is the way the water feels. Although there are waves and ripples, it’s smooth,  easy-going and a generally pleasant surface to race on. You can feel the water having an effect but it’s not the heavily tactile experience you get from the Wave Race series. This is an arcade-style game you can jump right into without a lot of fuss; it reminds me of the budget games of previous console generations. I could quite easily imagine myself picking this out of a PS2 bargain bin 10 years ago and I mean that in the best possible way. There were a lot of really good budget console games on the market back then and I think this would have sat alongside them really nicely.

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It’s a very cheap game, full price on Steam is £4.99, but you get quite a lot for your money. The graphics aren’t top of the line but it’s colourful and generally looks good enough. The tracks are all pretty fun to race on, they look different from each other and there’s quite a few of them too. You’ve got a lot of Jet Skis or “Hydro-Jets” to choose from and a really great colour customiser that lets you personalise both your vehicle and rider separately.  Unfortunately you have to grind a bit to access everything. Earning stars to unlock new races isn’t so bad but trying to accumulate enough money to upgrade your vehicle fully or buy a new one can take a quite a while. I don’t mind having to unlock things. Getting something new is a nice reward for meeting a particular goal in the game but repetition isn’t a great way of doing that in my opinion.

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Grinding aside, I like this game. It’s not ground-breaking and honestly I might be overstating how good it is because it reminds me of older budget games and because I like something else Vector Unit made. Really, the worst you can say about Riptide GP 2 is that it’s not as good as other, much more expensive games with vastly larger budgets. It’s fun, it’s cheap and it’ll keep you entertained for a couple of hours at least.

There’s another Riptide GP game coming out later this year and it looks a bit more polished and seems to take a bit more inspiration from Hydro Thunder based on the trailer. That’s probably worth keeping an eye on, it looks promising.

 

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