By: Jeff Cater
You might be familiar with developer Vector Unit and the many mobile games that it’s released over the years. Now, it’s ready to make a splash on the console market with Riptide GP: Renegade, a fast futuristic racer that takes place along various river ways and canals by means of roided-out Jet skis. Get ready to get wet!
The first thing that you’ll notice while playing is just how snappy and polished the control scheme feels. As most racers go, R2 and L2 will govern acceleration and braking, respectively. If you need a bit of a boost to catch up or widen the gap between you and second place, try to hit a jump and mix any directional combination of the left and right sticks to perform one of several stunts.
Landing stunts fills a meter at the top of the screen, but even if the gauge isn’t filled all of the way you may still press “X” to activate an intense boost of speed.
Visually, the mobile roots of Riptide GP: Renegade definitely show through more than a little. Stage, rider and bike designs don’t look as though they’re from a game on the PlayStation 4, but more so something you’d expect to find on a PS3 — or the world’s strongest PS2.
That being said, there are some pretty nifty effects like when water splashes onto the screen and rolls off, but we aren’t talking anything close to Driveclub-like quality. The water rolls and tosses itself around beautifully, and though there aren’t a wide variety of courses they often provide neat touches like jets flying right over your head, or fiery trees falling down in the middle of the course.
Stunt animations are very well done at least, and the frame rate is blazing fast the entire time, so Vector Unit got it right where it really counts.
If you’re into techno and trance music, then you’ll be very pleased with the soundtrack of Renegade. Besides the hum of several jet skis, the music is your only aural accompaniment, but each audio track is tailored perfectly for the corresponding level and very easy to get caught up jamming to.
Riptide GP: Renegade features nine tracks, and while that seems pretty low for a racer these days, it does a good job switching up the order or changing variables about them. Each course demands a three-Star rating to achieve perfection, but you can still advance in most tiers if you only grab one or two stars.
The AI in the game seems to be a bit unforgiving in the earlier levels, which necessitates grinding previous races in order to afford upgrades. Most of the time snagging even one upgrade will net you an extra star in a level, but there are some courses where the AI feels simply broken in an unfair way.
For example, in the second set of races there’s no amount of grinding I could have done to get anything but ONE STAR out of the first race. Advancing to the next tier of races surprised me, as I was getting first place with nary any troubles, but when I’d revisit that other race I’d still get smoked, so there’s definitely some issues with AI scaling or rubber-banding in the game.
Otherwise, Renegade is a real treat to play. Aside from regular ol’ racing, you’re also given a stunt mode to wow the spectators and an elimination mode that is tooth-and-nail vicious. Mixing all these together and changing up the course designs ever so slightly presents a consistently unique set of challenges, and having a host of different bikes to choose from and upgrade is a real plus as well.
She’s not the prettiest girl at the dance, but damn it when Tootsie Roll came on she blew everyone away with her sweet dance skills. Riptide GP: Renegade is a damn good racing game, even if it does look like something from yesteryear.