Riptide GP: Renegade (PlayStation 4) Review

By Tomas Barry 03.09.2016

Review for Riptide GP: Renegade on PlayStation 4

Vector Unit's third iteration in the Riptide series seeks to flesh out what was already quite an addictive jet-ski racer. Following a review of Riptide GP2 last year, does Riptide GP: Renegade perfect the developer's aquatic formula, or does it fall a little short of the mark?

Riptide started out as a smartphone-only affair, but that changed with the debut of Riptide GP2 on PS4 and Xbox One in 2013. Drawing from Vector Unit's previous water-based racer Hydro Thunder Hurricane, and borrowing elements from futuristic racers such as the Wipeout and Extreme G series, Riptide Renegade aspires to be both a more stylish sci-fi-influenced affair, as well as a far more substantial 'hydro-ski' racer than its earlier lightweight mobile-based entries in the series.

Riptide GP: Renegade claims to be built for 'modern consoles,' signifying an intention to cross out of the mobile market that Vector Unit dominated into the supposedly more high-end type of gaming, for its third instalment in the series.

It certainly meets the core criteria for modern console racers. The game runs at 1080p, 60 frames per second, with no issues at all under stress. Other checked boxes include complex water physics, flashy visuals and online multiplayer for up to eight players and four-player split-screen.

Screenshot for Riptide GP: Renegade on PlayStation 4

The most notable addition for the series, however, comes in the form of a more in-depth single-player story-based mode. Previous instalments have been a little more barren and stripped back, with earning cash to upgrade and buy new jet-skis being the only real incentive to progress. Renegade instead opts to mix things up by wrapping a fairly zany story around the single-player experience, which at least enables more contrast to the single layer.

The story, thankfully, is not thrust upon you in the form of cut-scenes, but instead mostly conveyed through text preludes before each race. The presence of a narrative enables a more interesting roster of characters, which is a welcome addition. However, its only other purpose seems to be to justify a few forgettable set-piece moments in the odd race and some underwhelming boss stages.

At its best, Riptide GP: Renegade is an addictive and exhilarating romp. Though it's best consumed in short bursts, it often becomes hard to put down when you're chasing the perfect chain of tricks, maximising your boost for a 1st place finish. This represents the most absorbing aspect of the game. The trick system relies on a range of simple to complex analogue stick patterns, which evolve as the player's move-set gets more diverse.

There are a lot of small nuances to the gameplay like this, which become mastered at a reasonably steady rate as you progress, for the most part. Each race earns cash toward new hydro-jets and XP, which increases your level, earning new abilities and the points for investing in new tricks. As you proceed, more elaborate over-the-top tricks will begin to unlock, evoking memories of SSX Tricky.

Screenshot for Riptide GP: Renegade on PlayStation 4

It's a bit of a grind at certain moments, but at the same time, it's a satisfying type of grind that retains the sense of fun all the way until the real higher echelons of the single-player, at which point it can become a frustrating experience. It's certainly gratifying when your updated hydro-ski earns three stars in a race you were having trouble with previously, and generally these moments are well spread out.

The main problem with the Riptide GP: Renegade, though, relates to its claim to be a racer built for modern consoles from the ground up. Firstly, it should be noted that although Vector Unit has tweaked and improved things in many ways, the core components of the series are still almost exactly the same.

In one sense, this is a credit to the formula of their original mobile line of Riptide games, because the racing mechanics translate over seamlessly without feeling obviously or instantaneously lightweight. On the other hand, it also makes shortcomings elsewhere less forgivable, considering the game is professing to be a console-standard racer and the series formula already seems to be well perfected.

Screenshot for Riptide GP: Renegade on PlayStation 4

The biggest disappointment is the approach to tracks, which are simply not varied enough. The vast majority of console racers feature sets of standalone tracks, each with their own aesthetic and distinct elements to take into consideration, too. To illustrate the importance, consider why Mario Kart, whose fans tend to produce half the hype for the next instalment, because they view those tracks like a playlist, which in turn plays a pivotal role in the quality of the game.

Despite Vector Unit championing a switch into the high-end, away from mobile game developer tactics, Riptide GP: Renegade ignores that, and goes ahead and reuses just a handful of environments again and again - just as in the team's previous mobile titles.

This oversight means no matter how much fun you have in a single-player capacity, most players will probably have had their fill around the halfway mark.

Perhaps the only moment it feels like the series has found a new home on the consoles is during four-player split-screen multiplayer. At this point, all grievances can be put to one side, since the simple core mechanics come together so much better with a few friends gathered. This is particularly true since the arcade racer, and certain modes associated with it, such as four-player split-screen, now seems to be less and less common on home console.

Disappointingly, it wasn't possible to find a game in the online mode. This will likely be amended by the time of a second opinion.

Screenshot for Riptide GP: Renegade on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

When it comes down to it, Riptide GP: Renegade is not a significant step up from its predecessors, despite the developer's PR rumblings. It is, however, a flashier, more content heavy upgrade with a lot to get stuck into, whether you favour single-player or multiplayer. While there are some obvious flaws holding it back, such as the lack of interesting varied tracks, if taken at face value, Renegade packs a big punch for its price point. This is not a Wave Race-like classic, but it has potential.

Developer

Vector Unit

Publisher

Vector Unit

Genre

Driving

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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