- Format: Xbox One (reviewed), PC, PS4
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Vector Unit
- Developer: Vector Unit
- Players: 1 (offline), 2-8 (online)
- Site: http://www.vectorunit.com/riptide-gp-renegade/
- Game code provided by PR
Riptide GP: Renegade is a jet ski racing title that is very good at being a jet ski racing title. They’ve got the water racing down to a “T” and it offers a lot of bang for your buck – but there are a few issues. There’s a long campaign that’ll keep you going for a heck of a long time, with lots of variants of races you’ve already done, but perhaps a bit harder than before. There’s also a multiplayer option, which you’ll need real or internet friends for because it’s a ghost town almost all the time (on Xbox One at least). Regardless of what mode you get it for, it’s still pretty good at what it wants to do.
The two most important things in the game work really well. The handling of your favoured jet ski on water is really good. You bob up and down, bounce with the waves, and can glide around corners in a way that at the very least feels realistic and physical. Everything on screen conveys the weight and force that you hit the water with; whether falling from a great height or shooting off the end of a massive wave, it looks and feels like we’d expect it to – even if that might just be a “Hollywood” look and feel rather than how it would actually react.
The second thing that works well – maybe even a little too well – is the bots. The singleplayer is full of them out of necessity, and with the chance of an online multiplayer match being so slim, bots are essential to the game. They’re real nasty pieces of work too; or rather, some of them are. The Racer bots tend to be just about whatever level of skill you’d imagine them to be like for any corresponding mission of the singleplayer campaign. The Bosses however feel mean-spirited, not only because they are always going to have a better vehicle but the cops are out to get you too. And we mean really out to get you.
Cops only appear in some levels, and crucially, are there to harass you. The difference between the boys in blue here and in other games of the genre with similar obstruction type enemies, is that these only ever target you. You, you, and always you. The campaign’s story does involve the law having already caught you but you already served your time, so this is pretty much harassment. Doubly so sometimes as you might find yourself in the unlucky position of being harassed by two of them at once. It wouldn’t be so bad if they went after everyone, or whoever is in the lead, but it’s only you. Did we mention the cops only ever go after you?
It feels incredibly cheap to make a level more difficult by having someone who can always catch up to you, get ahead of you, and nudge you often so you keep losing speed. Sometimes, we ended up not being able to catch up to someone only slightly in the lead because the vast majority of that level we were hounded by the pigs. It was by far the most unpleasant part of the game.
Bosses on the other hand are also annoying; partly for their generally better jet skis, partly because the filth help them out in their special Boss races. Bosses always unlock a new jet ski. One which is always just a little better than the one you had previously, but weaker than a fully upgraded one from the previous chapter. It’s monotonous in that regard, as you’re rotating out jet skis that you’ve spent time and effort upgrading; only having to start the exact same process over again. It wouldn’t be so bad if they were just alternatives that started out slightly stronger, but since the new machines are mostly just outright better, it feels like you’re wasting a lot of extra time and effort on something you won’t use again when the next unlock comes around.
The only physics-based mechanic we weren’t too keen on was the stunts, which earn you boost. Stunts on their own are fine when you’re performing them mid-air; not so much when you can see yourself and other drivers tumbling about on hard surfaces, in an almost glitchy fashion. It’s a bit of a novelty to see someone tumble about on a flat strip but that wears off fast. It’s also a bit of a shame that there aren’t more opportunities to do the more complex stunts or string together more basic stunts, but we guess there’d probably be an issue with people constantly boosting otherwise.
It’s an enjoyable game when you can just play through the levels without worrying too much about upgrading your jet ski but it all too often left us frustrated at the constant harassment from the local bobbies. It just feels overly punishing regardless of whether you’re doing well or lagging behind. It also makes the already difficult Boss races simply unpleasant to play. There’s a vast chunk of levels that don’t have a police presence, which are far more fun; but you’ll still have to face up to the fuzz if you want to progress.