Vector Unit is back again with another sequel to its excellent jet-ski racing series, and its now better than ever. Riptide GP: Renegade impresses on many grounds, significantly improving the experience over Riptide GP 2. The thrills of jet-ski racing are all present and accounted for, and Riptide GP: Renegade delivers an experience few others can match. The series receives wider attention, thanks to a release on multiple platforms (more coming soon), but even on mobile it shines. There aren’t that many Android games to match the quality of this title, let alone overcome it. Riptide GP: Renegade delivers quality racing experience for mobile platforms, with detailed graphics and an extensive single player career mode, and is a title that shouldn’t be missed.
Developer, Publisher: VectorUnit
Released: August 2, 2016; Reviewed on: Asus Zenfone 2, Android
Other Platform: iOS, Kindle, PC & PS4; Windows 10 & Xbox One
The visual style of Riptide GP is instantly recognizable upon first start, with sleek and detailed menus. Vector Unit significantly expands on the features available in previous releases, while retaining the gameplay core that makes the series stand out. Riptide GP: Renegade fully supports Google Play integration to enable achievements and leaderboards, and the game packs in a large amount of online features. Extensive Career mode, Online Leaderboards, Synchronous Multiplayer and Split-Screen of up to 4 players make this game the biggest release for the developer yet. Riptide GP series has certainly come a long way from its original appearance, and Renegade has everything to compete directly with developer’s own Hydro Thunder: Hurricane.
Riptide GP: Renegade features an extensive single player mode spread across various racing disciplines and diverse track locations to provide hours of quality content. The number of career events is significantly increased when comparing to its predecessor, demonstrating developers’ commitment to improve the game on every level. Riptide GP: Renegade is the first in the series to feature a story mode, although it is not particularly memorable. The game’s not at fault for this, as there is only so much that can be done with the racing genre. Still, some text dialogue and a basic premise do enough to invest players into the career. Game modes all carry over from its predecessor, and Riptide GP: Renegade doesn’t do nearly enough there to distinguish itself from the series, featuring primarily the same types of races. Apart from the new Slalom mode, which is essentially a take on time trial but with flags, other career event types remain the same, featuring racing, elimination and freestyle. That said, there isn’t much they could have done to change things up without breaking the essential game experience.
The diversity of events is not outstanding, but Riptide GP: Renegade shines in environment variety. The art team went full out to deliver some amazing locales, which at times look incredible. Paired with a detailed graphics engine, it delivers a beautiful picture. Diverse locations range from lush park regions to heavy industrial areas, with effective colour back-drops to convey the atmosphere. Riptide GP: Renegade also moves on to a newer engine for more detailed water effects and reflections. Vector Unit delivers excellent levels of detail for a mobile title that not only make the game look very impressive, but also exceed the quality of a significant amount of games in the Play Store. The water effects blew me away, with dynamic water splashing and wave effects contributing to raise the overall level of detail. Riptide GP: Renegade is one of the best looking games on the Android platform, and as long as you have a powerful phone, delivers excellent performance across the board. I’ve experienced no lag whatsoever even when the screen is filled with effects, which there are a lot of. Apart from the sleek water effects, explosions don’t look half as bad either.
Riptide GP: Renegade offers extensive settings to make the experience as accessible as possible. Career difficulty can be changed at will at any time, although the AI seems to be quite challenging from early on, even when playing on Normal. Its something that will be discussed later as one of the negative aspects in this overall perfect package. Graphics settings can be adjusted across a variety of device specifications, and offers choice between faster performance or detailed graphics. Input options are extensive, with support for touch controls, controllers and even keyboards. In personal view, the game benefits from a controller just like many others on mobile, but tricks are much easier to do with the touch controls. Audio settings offer only 2 slide bars for SFX Volume and Effects, so it doesn’t offer very much choice. Apart from available settings, Riptide GP: Renegade also features player stat tracking for convenience.
Apart from traditional racing, tricks are essential to the core gameplay experience, and Riptide GP: Renegade brings across even more combinations. And you better count on remembering them for those freestyle events because I know I personally couldn’t. Skills points are gained by levelling up, and can be used to unlock new tricks, as well as other various benefits. They certainly look spectacular and its satisfying to pull off the most complicated skill combinations, as long as they can be remembered. All skill mappings can be accessed from the pause menu, but it isn’t the most convenient way to do things. Faithful to the series formula, tricks build boost and provide spectacle. Player customization makes a return from Riptide GP 2, and both the rider and the jet ski can be customized completely to one’s liking, but the traditional paintwork pattern cannot be adjusted. Various jet-skis are available to race on, although with this release, they no longer have to be bought. Vehicles are unlocked through boss races and are no longer need to be purchased, which I personally find to be an improvement. My experience with Riptide GP 2 involved a lot of grind, so I’m happy to see jet-ski pricing gone. With that said, the only use for money now involves jet-ski upgrades.
While it is a quality game, Riptide GP: Renegade is not perfect in every way. One of the main issues I’ve had with the title comes directly from Riptide GP 2. AI difficulty increasingly scales against the player, and within Part 2 of the career I already found myself outclassed by faster riders. AI is always capable of keeping up, and often have faster jet-skis to prevent player advancement. In Riptide GP 2, a similar problem happened, requiring the grind of old events to get in-game currency. Riptide GP: Renegade has less of that thanks to free jet-skis unlocked through a system of boss races, but nonetheless the AI has the capability to make progression a struggle. The game’s pacing requires consistent advancement, and thankfully the rewards system is fair. You won’t accumulate loads of money, but won’t be completely out of it either. Aside from some frustrations with the enemy AI, the experience is otherwise very enjoyable.
Riptide GP: Renegade brings the series to the next level as Vector Unit creates new technology from the ground up in years. It is by far the most complete and best looking game the developer has yet produced, and its very impressive for a mobile title. While the list of available platforms has been greatly expanded, this is still very much a mobile game at its heart. But available for only a few dollars, Riptide GP: Renegade is one of the best experiences to get on Android. The quality at release exceeded my expectations, and the series noticeably comes a long way from its first title. Riptide GP: Renegade has significantly evolved over both of its predecessors and now sets the quality bar for future games by Vector Unit, as well as competing mobile titles. The game is incredibly enjoyable and looks very sleek, and I’ve had a lot of fun playing through its career mode. Although it doesn’t boast an open-world or deep mechanics of older RPGs on Android, Riptide GP: Renegade more than makes up for its quality. It is one of the best mobile games currently available on the market and I highly recommend checking it out.