Riptide GP Renegade (Vector Unit, 2016)

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Riptide GP Renegade is the latest entry in the Riptide GP series from Vector Unit. Like its predecessors it’s a futuristic watercraft racer with a mixed emphasis on racing and stunts. I enjoyed the previous game in the series when I played it earlier in this year. I think this instalment makes a lot of small improvements that add up to a significantly better game with a lot more personality.

The basic structure of the game is similar to the earlier games in the series. You race in a series of events consisting of a variety of race types and earn XP, cash and stars which let you unlock rider perks, vehicle upgrades and more races respectively. A major addition to Riptide GP Renegade is a story mode which acts as a framing device to link the different race events together. It’s a very simple story but it provides a framework for progression and unlocking more vehicles and riders.

Vector Unit have made a lot of cosmetic improvements since the previous game. The graphical style is very similar to Riptide GP 2 but with more detailed environments and better rider and vehicle animations. It still doesn’t look like a big budget game, because it isn’t, but it looks fine to me. It’s bold and colourful just like an arcade racer should be. The tracks, as well as looking nicer, are generally much better overall. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the tracks in the other games but they’ve taken things in a much more Hydro Thunder-like direction this time which can only be a good thing. There’s more alternate routes, more huge waves, more stuff happening in the background, just more of everything in general and it’s great. There’s maybe one track in the game that I’m not as fond of but even then it’s not bad.

The handling has changed a little bit since the last game. It’s much lighter now and feels a lot better. I didn’t dislike the way the last game handled but in comparison to this it feels very heavy.  Even though the handling is lighter than it was in Riptide GP 2, it’s still very easy to get to grips with and new players will be able to just jump right in and play without any problems. The stunts work the same way as previously, by hitting different analogue stick combinations, and they seem to be mostly the same. I think there might be more tricks added at the top end of the scale, there’s some pretty crazy ones that you can unlock later on and I don’t recall seeing them before.

Overall, Riptide GP Renegade is a good game at a good price. It’s easy to get into but becomes very challenging as you progress through the story. It’s a much better game than the already pretty decent Riptide GP 2 and it’s probably the best watercraft racing game since Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which Vector Unit also made. It looks pretty good for a game made by such a small team. It certainly looks professional even it probably didn’t have a huge amount of money behind it and in my opinion it looks the way a game like this should, simple and bold.

I’ve always been a fan of  budget games that punch way above their weight and this certainly fits the bill. I give it a firm recommendation. It’s available now for PC, PS4, Android and iOS with an Xbox One version on the way.

 

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.