Riptide GP2 is a futuristic racing game, but instead of the usual hover cars, you are thrust into the seat of a rocket-powered hydro jet. The hydro jet is basically a souped-up jet ski used to speed around the rivers and canals of the futuristic world. Instead of some tacked on story, your goal is simply to make it to one of the top three spots in each race.
It is actually refreshing to play a game with a futuristic slant that isn't all dark and dystopian. Due to the bright visuals and twisting tracks the game actually has a very WipeOut feel to it, but without feeling like a clone. Riptide GP2 was originally a mobile game, which explains the surprisingly tiny download size, but the game looks good enough that I would never have guessed. While not drop-dead gorgeous, there is plenty of visual touches such as the hovercraft and other vehicles in the background that breathe life into the levels. It is hard not to be reminded of Ridge Racer as an aerial craft zips overhead and the water effects are done very nicely as well.
In career mode you earn stars for finishing first, second or third in a race and a certain amount of stars is required to unlock further cups. With a total of nine cups and plenty of races, the game will keep players busy for a long time. Cups consist of straightforward races, hot laps which require you to beat a certain time, elimination where the last racer in the pack is eliminated every few seconds and freestyle where you have one minute to bust out tricks for a high score.
Riptide GP2 has a total of 25 different stunts that your rider can pull off, but not all of them are unlocked from the start. Instead, winning races not only rewards you with cash but also skill points which are used to unlock the stunts of your choice. Apart from generating points during freestyle events, stunts are used during other races to fill up your boost meter. Levels are dotted with ramps which launch you into the air and the stunt controls are simple enough to quickly pull off a few tricks. Once a trick is initiated the animation takes over so unfortunately you can pull off better or longer tricks by holding down buttons like in the Tony Hawk's titles. While this makes it harder to fumble tricks you can still fall off your hydro jet if the trick is not done by the time you hit the water again. Recovering from crashes is near instantaneous, though and you only lose some speed and whatever boost you had stored. The game is also quite forgiving when it comes to bumping into walls or other racers as you can't take any damage.
All micro-transactions have been removed from the game so money earned from winning races is used to upgrade your hydro jet or buy new ones. The upgrade options are relatively simple and there are ten different rides but earning enough cash for the good stuff can become a bit of a grind. We would have liked it if it was possible to sell your old rides to make up cash for the newer ones but unfortunately this is not possible. When buying a new ride, you must upgrade it as well, otherwise it is much slower than a fully upgraded older ride and doing so can be time consuming and repetitive as it involves redoing already completed races. It is very obvious when your current ride is not making the grade anymore as the other racers will quickly leave you in their wake.
Grinding aside, the game is quite addictive and had us hooked right from the start. Some more levels would have been nice, although the ones on offer are not too shabby. Outside of the career mode, there is a split screen multi-player mode as well as online mode. We didn't' have much luck with the online mode but the developers seem to be actively working on improving this feature so fingers crossed that they sort everything out.* If you have other Steam friends with the game you can also race against a recording of their best performances using the VR Challenge mode, but obviously this is not as satisfying as a proper online match. The game has full controller support, and everything feels very responsive, which is crucial in a fast paced game such as this. Steam achievements and trading cards have also been added which is always a nice touch. The audio is a bit of a mix between techno and Dubstep which is not going to appeal to everyone, but it does fit the theme of the game. The sound of breaking glass when your rider goes flying off his or her hydro jet sounds a bit odd though.
Judged purely on how much entertainment it offers, Riptide GP2 is definitely worth the price of admission. It offers more than the usual mobile ports and is a very enjoyable title in its own right. It's not quite up there with the classic Jet Ski games of old, but we had a lot of fun with it and can recommend it to anyone looking for an arcade experience on their computer instead of on a small tablet screen.
*Update: Our review has barely gone up before we got word that the game has been updated with some much needed multi-player features such as a waiting room for quick matches, the ability join existing matches upon the start of the next race and visible status for waiting players. You can view the full list HERE.
TAGS: Riptide GP2,
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