Riptide GP: Renegade is the sequel to Riptide GP 2 which was released in 2013 and is the third Riptide title in a series which dates back to 2011. Vector Unit developed the original Riptide GP exclusively for mobile platforms but have since brought their brand of fun and over the top arcade water racing action onto the console and PC.
Riptide GP: Renegade is probably best described as a mash up between the likes of Jet Moto and Hydro Thunder with its fun and simplistic racing, fast-paced sound track (and even faster loading times) and its larger than life stunts. The water racer is currently available for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Android, iOS and Windows Phone platforms. We will however be focusing on the PlayStation 4 version for our review.
Navigating through the fairly dated and basic menu screens you'll find five main modes in Riptide GP: Renegade: Career, Challenge Mode, Quick Race, Online and Split Screen. Quick Race allows you to race against AI opponents and grants you access to all nine environments. Challenge mode will see you battling it out on the leaderboards against friends for gloating purposes.
The local multiplayer split screen mode can be played between 2-4 players but does away with choosing a single track, as found in the quick race and challenge modes, in favour of tours which consist of anywhere between 4-8 races. The online multiplayer mode enables you to host a public or private match, or if you prefer you can opt to join a match instead.
Riptide GP has a fairly substantial career mode which is split into five main coloured segments. Each has between four to nine categories and each category has a number of events. Besides traditional races, you'll also find slalom, elimination, freestyle, bonus and boss battle events. This may sound like a lot of events, but in truth the game did get repetitive after a while, and needed perhaps a couple more. In order to progress you'll need at least a third place finish in events granting you a star (with a maximum of three on offer should you win).
Finishing events in the top three places will earn you cash which can be spent upgrading your hydrojet. Hydrojets have four performance stats: acceleration, top speed, handling and boost. Each can be upgraded to a pre-determined maximum performance level. As you might have guessed, each subsequent upgrade on a particular stat is more expensive than the last. Besides earning cash for upgrades, you'll also earn experience points (XP) which in turn raises your level. Reaching new levels gains you skill points (SP) which can be used to obtain greater speed boosts from tricks, extra slipstreaming boosts, faster boost starts and countless new stunts.
Stunts are performed by using both analogue sticks: simply press them in any direction when you're in the air to perform a range of different stunts which vary in complexity. Stunts will fill your boost meter which can be deployed at any time, but you'll need to exercise caution as once you've hit that boost button there's no way to stop it until its completely depleted so it's perhaps best to wait until you're on a relatively straight piece of track to unleash it.
Bigger tricks grant you greater speed boosts but also require longer air time to pull them off. if you're too greedy and go for a complex trick during a medium sized jump you'll most likely fail miserably and send your rider plunging head first into the water. Crashing out like this makes it very hard to then win a race as there doesn't seem to be any rubber banding effects in Riptide GP: Renegade.
You’ll meet several quirky characters as you progress through the career mode and beating them in boss battle events will add them, and, more importantly, their hydrojet to your garage which is essential for success. Elsewhere, you can unlock additional riders and hydrojets from optional bonus events. Beware though - these are the toughest events found in the game.
You will come to a sticking point at times in the career mode thanks to some rather large and frustrating difficulty spikes. When you encounter these you'll need to back track and compete in older events to earn more XP and cash to upgrade your hydrojet and skills further which feels a little bit of a grind. The fact that Vector Unit has not added a difficulty option in the career mode seems a glaring omission that will frustrate many players.
Also frustrating are the police who make an appearance every so often. Their job is to chase down the illegal racers, but they all seem to target you instead. Often you'll find they race ahead of you only to then hit their brakes sending you slamming into the back of them. They feel largely tacked on and serve no real purpose other than to annoy you apparently.
Hydrojets handle well and you really feel the weight of them as they carve out their path through the water. It's just a shame that they sound whiny and puny and not representative of their size and power. The force of the water is translated well in Riptide GP: Renegade with waves influencing the direction of your travel. This is particularly noticeable when you approach giant waves which send you up into the air for a potential trick or two.
Head Above Water
It's fair to say that graphically Riptide GP: Renegade is the best looking Riptide game to date. However, the game still looks dated by today's standards - Vector Unit's mobile origins are perhaps all too clear to see. There's a decent amount of environments from parks and city areas to a military air base. Flying vehicles, birds and drones can be seen littering the skies, and cars and people are scattered around back on terra firma. Elsewhere you’ll find moving machinery, huge air ships, energy beams, neon lights, fair ground rides and fireworks adding character to some of the environments.
One environment will even see you racing amidst a naval attack complete with gun fire and explosions. It's perhaps a little surprising, then, that some environments have great life and atmosphere whereas others feel bland and unfinished by comparison. Shortcuts can be found scattered around these environments: some of which you may spot easily, others you may accidentally stumble across and there will be some you won't know even exist. These shortcuts vary in usefulness - some present ample risk so you'll need to weigh up the risk versus reward.
Riptide GP: Renegade is a fun old-school style racer with a difficulty which may frustrate some players. Grinding through older events can be a bit of a chore, but the promise of an upgraded hydrojet largely nulls the grind. If you are looking for an arcade racing title which harks back to games of old then look no further than Riptide GP: Renegade. With its budget price tag, Riptide GP: Renegade is easy to recommend. Just be aware that it may test your skills and sometimes your patience to its limits - you have been warned.