Sunday, December 3, 2017

Review: Riptide GP - Renegade


When creating watercraft-based racing games there are two pretty different routes to follow.  First there are ones that are essentially in the vein of the classic Wave Race series built around dynamic waves and technique as you attempt to control your racer through a series of buoys on the water. The rest are much more in line with traditional racing games, having you race on a more guided water-based track. For good or bad Riptide GP: Renegade falls into the second camp, though to its credit it does so with a great deal of polish for a budget title with mobile origins.


For those of you unfamiliar with the series that started in the mobile space the Riptide games are set in a sort of funky, somewhat dystopian future where people gangs of people take to the water rather than the roadways. In this iteration you’re a fallen-from-glory racer who is trying to make their comeback through the ranks to claim your rightful place… or something like that. Along the way you’ll race progressively more impressive craft against more intimidating foes and at more impressive speeds. The majority of races will, as I’d said, play out more like a street race on water but at least Riptide does an excellent sure of not having you mistake it for merely racing on a “blue road”. For the most part you’ll hit waves that are appropriate to the location, with smaller waves in most corridors but then some larger waves and even some jumps in places where you can catch some air to do some stunting. There are a few alternative modes including eliminations, stunt trials, and slalom. My favorite, of course, being the slalom races but unfortunately there are too few of them and they’re just set on the racing courses so they’re not quite all I would hope for.

As a whole the paces the game puts you through are pretty consistently challenging without pushing the limit too much. There are times when you may need to do some grinding to get money for upgrades or experience to level so you can acquire some new skills like better stunts for your repertoire but for the most part if you have some decent aquatic racing chops it shouldn’t get too painful. Upgrading your watercraft pretty evenly is always a good idea, in particular in races against “bosses” I found you would typically need to be pretty well maxed out unless you can catch some breaks somehow, they’re aggressive and don’t generally make many mistakes. Success means new people to play as along with their generally more impressive rides with improved base stats. If you’re looking to play against other humans your best bet will be playing locally with up to 4-player split-screen available as well as online play, though availability will be subject to how many other people are playing.


In terms of criticisms I’d say that thought Renegade has a lot of personality with just a little bit more effort the veneer wouldn’t be quite so thin. Seeing most racers do the same movements in time to prep for the race somewhat shatters the illusion. It’s a small thing but once I noticed it that jumped out at me. The racer customization is pretty nice, if it could just be expanded to a pre-race move and a victory pose it would take it over the top. With stunts for the most part they work within the races pretty well but the stunt courses themselves simply being portions of the existing track really makes it feel tacked on. Giving people some space to change things up and show some creativity would really help the mode out. Speaking of space I understand this is a track-based water racer but there are portions of some track that have some more open water and they’re really great, complete with some nice big waves, I just want more of that! Even if it were just a track or two. Throw in some great slalom courses there, forcing people to judge their waves and use technique to cut through the water and hit their turns and I’d be an extremely happy man. The elements are all in the game, it just needs to be stepped up a bit more.

Overall I’m really impressed with Renegade from top to bottom, especially since (as I’ve noted) this is a game with mobile roots and is being released at a very reasonable price. Not in any way a lazy or lacking port this feels like a game that was meant to be on the Switch from the get-go and does an excellent job of scratching that water racing itch. I look forward to the next incarnation and can only hope that they spend some time pondering over Wave Race and moving things a little further in that direction. They’ve released an excellent speed-based racing game, now I’d just like one that demands a little more technique. Easy to recommend for racing fans of all persuasions.


Score: 8.5

Pros:
  • Some great and varied track designs
  • Different event types place varied demands on you
  • Absolutely zero issues with performance and racing controls

Cons:
  • For the most part this is a “racer on water” and not in the Wave Race vein
  • Has just enough personality to draw attention to where it is a little repetitive
  • Some of the more complex stunts can be troublesome to execute


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