Riptide GP: Renegade is the latest game from Vector Unit, the team that brought us games like Hydro Thunder and Riptide GP2.
Vector Unit do aquatic racing games, and they do them well to be fair. Riptide GP: Renegade stays very true to the developers style with just a little added zest through the games stunt mechanics. Despite an unwillingness to expand outside of Vector Unit’s obvious self imposed boundaries, Riptide GP: Renegade doesn’t suffer or come across a simple repeat of previous games. Instead they have actually managed to pull off something a little special here. Riptide GP: Renegade manages to be fun.
The core of the game is racing on water with futuristic looking jet skis. It is important then that the developer gets the feel of the water right. The game needs to feel like you are moving with the water and waves. Not sitting above it or going through it. That is no easy task but Vector Unit do a cracking job of that, making it feel like genuine water, pushing against your vehicle, pulling you in different directions and tossing you around in waves as you wrestle your way around corners. So the water is good. How’s the racing element? Actually also good.
Racing in Riptide GP: Renegade is pretty much fun throughout. There are 9 tracks in total, all with different elements to contend with as you speed through them. There are some nice visual elements too, adding to the futuristic feel of the game. A personal favourite is a track that sees you racing through a flooded city with all submerged cars visible underneath the water. Other tracks see you zooming through subways full, of water and abandoned train cars, through a burning forest and even one with a bit of a warzone. They look fantastic.
Tracks hold a good amount of variety too with many twists and turns. Long drops, huge jumps and occasional obstacles all look to slow you down. Throw in ramps and the live environment where obstacles move and get thrown in and out of your way and t makes for exciting racing. There is no better part then hitting an open water section where the waves are large and you find yourself trying to find a path that allows you to skim across the sea but find yourself tossed about like a rag doll. Shortcuts/alternative routes also add to the fun, first in trying to find them but then also in switching up how you decide to take the course on.
As for the ramps, well that is where stunts comes in to the mix. Stunts/tricks are pretty easy to pull off though the timing can be a little more difficult to master.
Hit a ramp with as much speed as you dare and, while in the air, enter commands by hitting both analogue sticks in different directions. They aren’t free tricks, there are specific commands to follow like both sticks up or both sticks left. There are different levels of tricks too and, besides looking flashy, they are important in races as tricks give you boost. Hit those ramps, bang out some commands, land safely and boost off at hyper speed. Variety is important as repeating the same trick gives less and less boost each time. Tricks are important really, as though they are for fun, you will struggle to win harder races without a good amount of boost in your pocket.
There is a standard story but it is dire really. A silly thing added to try and link up one section of races to the next. Your character has been betrayed and banned from the Riptide circuit. You start racing again building up reputation and a crew to topple Krex. The racer who betrayed you. Like I said, it is awful but it is a racing game. We aren’t here for story so it doesn’t damage the games overall credibility too much.
Outside of standard racing there are multiple modes. Elimination sees you aim to be the last man standing as the time counts out the last placed racer every 15 seconds. There are GP events. Here you try to accumulate points to finish top over a collection of races. Then there is also stunt mode where you get 60 seconds to grab as many trick points as you possibly can. All of this adds a decent amount of variety and plenty of game to get stuck in to.
There is a levelling up system of sorts. You level up by performing well in events. Moving up a level gives you money and skill points. Skill points are predominantly used to unlock bigger and better tricks. Money is used to upgrade your vehicle’s speed, handling, boost and acceleration. As well as that, as you progress you can unlock newer and speedier vehicles. These are helpful later in the game for going back to earlier races and smashing out a much improved score. You get a few minor customising features too, like new colour schemes and decals.
Events are scored using a start system with 1st place being worthy of three stars, 2 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd. There are over 100 events in total and if you are hunting achievements, you will need to get 1st place in all of them. It sounds like a daunting task but is very doable and, of course, it helps that it is fun to play.
With all that said, Riptide isn’t without it’s faults. They are few thankfully. One fault is an obstacle of sorts in some races. The addition of police on their own water vehicles, chasing you down and trying to ram you into oblivion. A good challenge, you would think, but no. They are insanely fast but more importantly, seem to only target you, and not the AI. It is supremely frustrating, in the harder races, to be chasing down 1st place at speed. You see police bikes swarming ahead but ignore the leading racer then suddenly charge you, swiping you all over the place. Similarly, if you are leading, and well ahead of the police. Suddenly, you see their dot on the mini map moving at hyper speed. They seem to be ignoring all AI until they catch you and bash you to hell. Its very unfairly balanced.
Not really a negative for me, but there is no real online multiplayer meaning there might be some longevity concerns. It is minor though. Riptide is a fun, arcade styled racing game. One with plenty of single player content and once you are done with that, you move on to the next game. It doesn’t feel designed to be the sort of game with longevity in mind. Riptide has fun in mind, and that is what has been provided.
Riptide GP: Renegade is a great example of gaming done well. A simple concept, executed to perfection. There is nothing about the game that will make it stand out as amazing. Similarly there are very few flaws or issues with it. It is well made and well thought out. There is plenty of content, the water effects are great and the tracks are varied and interesting. With over 100 events to try and master, you won’t be bored quickly but it also doesn’t overstay it’s welcome either. If you are a fan of arcade styled games and/or racing games, you will have played a lot worse than this. At it’s heart, Riptide GP: Renegade is good, old fashioned fun. We could do with more games like that.
Riptide GP: Renegade (Xbox One)
The Final Score - 8/10