Review: Riptide GP: Renegade
Riptide GP: Renegade is a water based racing game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4. Vector Unit was founded in December 2007 by Ralf Knoesel and Matt Small with a team comprising of just 4 members including themselves. Vector Unit’s focus is clearly on racing games as their first game released on July 28th 2010 was Hydro Thunder Hurricane, which was followed by Riptide GP in 2011, Shine Runner and Beach Buggy Blitz in 2012. Riptide GP2 and Beach Buggy Racing released initially in on iOS and Android platforms in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Beach Buggy Racing and Riptide GP2 made their home console debuts on PS4 in June 2015, but can Riptide GP: Renegade improve upon the quality of Riptide GP2 to become Vector Unit’s current benchmark?
Before entering into any races; two characters are available for selection including a male character called Impact and a female character referred to as Poison. Immediately after your selection of character begins a storyline to set up what is essentially an optional tutorial; a competitor known as Krex is telling you that luck played its part in you being on the podium in a recent race event instead of him, while Poison insists that Krex just does not want to admit that Impact is the better rider to which Krex responds asking for your character to prove it by racing him in an unsanctioned race which could get you both suspended if caught.
The story from the tutorial actually plays a massive part in the purpose of racing throughout the career mode as your character seeks to gain revenge on a rival who has done a deliberate injustice to remove Impact or Poison from their immediate list of competitors; depending upon which character you chose prior to the tutorial.
Career mode consists of five chapters to the story including 14 series of events with a varying amount of events contained within each series. The first chapter of the story includes two sets of mixed events with each containing 4 single events, while certain sets of events can comprise of less events per set, although a greater amount of sets could increase the total number of single events per series. Initially, only the first set of events from the first series are available as you have to earn a gold star to unlock the ability to participate in the next event on the podium with 1 gold star for a third place finish, 2 gold stars for second and 3 gold stars for winning the event to unlock the later events in a career series, so you can therefore reach the end of each series in order to unlock the opening set from the following series of events. Despite the staggering amount of events, there are even more beyond that as there are five boss fights as well as twelve bonus series including side quests and further boss fights which are collectively spread throughout the five chapters of the story told within the career mode. Bonus series have optional participation meaning that you do not have to enter into them, although there are perks for entering into such extra-hard side quests as they provide unlockable special decals, riders, and hydro jets.
Quick Race mode allows players to have a single race on any of the nine tracks against seven A.I. opponents, while choosing from a selection of skins, riders and hydro jets with later riders and hydro jets having to be unlocked in career mode, although Quick Race mode could have been better if it would have allowed players to participate in any event type and even customisable tournaments.
The introduction of police changes up the gameplay in some rather major ways such as police hydro jets chasing after you and ramming into your hydro jet in an attempt to slow you down or even take your hydro jet off track. A clever tactic which they employ involves police hydro jets pulling ahead of your hydro jet in order to disrupt the wake of the water directly ahead of you in a further attempt to reduce your speed and even make the handling of your hydro jet become unpredictable.
There are four event types including race, freestyle, slalom and elimination with race events consisting of 1 to 3 lap races as the player competes against 7 competitors for the race win, while freestyle events allow the player to earn points for every stunt performed in an attempt to beat the set amount of points to reach the podium with fresh stunts earning more than repetitions of the same stunts which certainly adds to the skill level required for putting a great freestyle run together. Slalom effectively replaces the hot lap events from Riptide GP2 in which you are the only rider on circuit attempting to set a fastest time as the A.I. have already set their respective lap times with the added stipulation of having to navigate blue and orange gates that indicate which side of the gate you have to steer your hydro jet towards, although if you miss the corresponding side of the gate a time penalty will be incurred resulting in a risk and reward factor in which pushing your pace as much as possible, especially through the corners may actually cost you time if not absolutely precise in your approach to each gate. Elimination events are the same as race events with an added stipulation as the competitor in last place will be eliminated after every 12 seconds until only a single rider remains. A certain feature that is lacking from each of the four event types is the ability to watch your achievements following an impressive performance or an eventful race as there is no replay functionality, although the share feature could cover such possibilities, but it would have been nice to see immediately after each race and a genuine compliment to the all-round presentation.
You can earn cash by finishing races as high as possible which is vital as the cash is used to purchase upgrades for your hydro jets to improve a certain element of performance such as increased acceleration, top speed, handling and boost with the upgrades being more expensive as you progress through the quality of hydro jet upgrades. Upgrades will be required to win particular races as you progress further through each type of event; for instance you may earn a podium position with a third place finish, therefore resulting in having to upgrade your hydro jet to an entirely higher level of quality in order to improve your performance to gain the race win.
Earning enough XP to level up provides a skill point and cash award which steadily increases as each level is attained with level 1 skills being unlocked from the start, while levels 2, 5, 10 and 15 have to be unlocked by reaching those specific levels, then having enough skill points to purchase such skills. Skill points are utilised to purchase an improvement to a hydro jet ability such as learning how to boost start, having a momentarily longer boost, a speed bonus when drafting opponents or even learning a wide variety of new stunts, therefore making it easier to earn boost in every event type or points during freestyle events.
The track design is amazing as there are 9 tracks from a variety of locations including a mixture of futuristic and apocalyptic environments such as parks, cityscapes, machinery, forest fires, a flooded city in ruins and much more besides with shortcuts that when utilised properly can reduce your lap time. Ramps provide a risk and reward factor as the appropriate combination of just the right amount of air, momentum and a stunt that requires less air to still be able to land accordingly will result in earning a boost, although if a stunt is performed which is too ambitious for the angle of the ramp, then you will crash and lose a few seconds.
The hydro jet design is pretty good as there are 9 hydro jets available to select which come in all shapes and sizes of design and even customisable paint schemes to represent your rider and team with every hydro jet having its own limitations of minimum and maximum performance. The player starts out riding the Switchblade which is provided by a friend to enable your character to start racing again before powering to the podium and victories to earn enough cash to upgrade each of the four attributes for a higher level performance for your hydro jets, while the further 8 hydro jets are unlocked by beating bosses at the end of each series within the career mode.
Performing stunts is important as it earns boost to temporarily increase the speed of your hydro jet with repetition of a stunt earning less boost for every occasion it is performed during every event type and earning less points during freestyle events. The stunts are clearly influenced by such extreme sports as Motocross and BMX with aerial manoeuvres including bar hop, superman, can can, front flip, back flip and tabletop all being level 1 stunts which appropriately emphasize just how outrageous some of the stunts really are. There are many more stunts across a total of 40 stunts in comparison to 25 stunts from Riptide GP2 with later stunts including the unbelievable gymnastic feats of the jungle gym, triple front flip, triple back flip and 1080 which certainly adds authenticity to the racing as well as the stunts during every event type to earn boost and throughout the freestyle events to earn points.
Just as was the case with Riptide GP2; there is a real sense of speed to each hydro jet which only increases as the hydro jets are upgraded further and ascend through the maximum rate of acceleration, top speed and boosting as well as the quality of handling. It is important to have a balance between the attributes as you attempt to keep your hydro jet from receiving a heavy landing from a wave by not carrying enough speed to ride the waves properly or scraping the barriers from carrying too much speed through a corner which are potential scenarios which could arise and significantly reduce your chances of winning the race, although the handling feels appropriate for the pace of the hydro jet for as long as the handling is equally upgraded.
There is only a single camera angle which is placed behind the hydro jet from a third-person perspective, although it is well positioned it cannot be adjusted for any players who wish to move it further forwards or backwards, while it cannot be panned around the hydro jet, although the ability to look behind the hydro jet has been added resulting in players now being able to check if an opposing rider is catching up with greater momentum through a straight to overtake on the inside or outside. In addition to customisable positioning of the third-person camera; a first-person camera angle from the front of the hydro jet and another from a rider’s eye perspective looking out of the crash helmet with restricted visibility around the edges of the screen would have provided a sufficient improvement to one of the biggest areas that needed to be progressed upon from Riptide GP2.
There are a variety of gameplay secrets and unlockables such as the ability to unlock Big Head mode by pressing up, up, down, down, left, right, left and right on the d-pad or left analogue stick followed by pressing X on the title screen, while there are a total of nine Easter eggs to collect that are hidden throughout each of the tracks which unlocks a Chicken Head player decal, alongside references including locations, characters and even posters from Vector Unit’s other games such as the Beach Buggy series and even their first game Hydro Thunder Hurricane.
The stats feature provides a wide range of statistics such as your percentage of progression throughout the career mode accompanied by the amount of career mode events played, the amount of wins, podiums and stars earned, while the statistics also cover unlockables such as the amount of hydro jets owned, drivers recruited and decals. In addition to further single player statistics such as distance driven, longest jump, wipeout count and how many Easter eggs have been found; there are also a set of online multiplayer statistics including the total number of games played, podiums, wins and consecutive wins.
The performance during remote play is excellent as the graphics, audio and general performance are all of the same quality as the PS4 version, while the control scheme has been optimised resulting in a control scheme in which the accelerator has been re-mapped from R2 to the top right of the touch screen and braking has moved from L2 to the top left of the touch screen, although it would have perhaps been better suited to have R for acceleration and L for braking with the function of looking behind your rider moving from L and R to the bottom left and right of the touch screen. It depends upon the size of your hands if you may have to lift your thumb off the top right of the touch screen to press X when activating a boost, although you will still have to lift your thumb off the top right of the touch screen to be able to change the direction of the right analogue stick in order to perform stunts which definitely results in a slight loss of momentum.
The controls are well mapped to the DualShock 4 controller with the control scheme consisting of pressing R2 to accelerate; pressing L2 to brake; pressing R1 or L1 to look back; pressing X to boost or recover a hydro jet after having crashed; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer the hydro jet; simultaneously changing the direction of the left and right analogue sticks when jumping off a ramp to perform a stunt from a wide variety of stunts; pressing the share button takes you to the share feature menu; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu.
The DualShock 4 controller vibrates when your hydro jet has a heavy landing from a wave, after a large jump, scraping the trackside barrier or colliding with another hydro jet. There is no gyroscopic, touch pad or light bar implementation which is surprising as the gyroscopic motion sensing functionality could have provided an alternative to the left analogue stick in regards to steering your hydro jet, while the touch pad could have been used as an alternative to activate a boost or swiping in specific directions to perform stunts or alternatively to look behind your hydro jet, alongside the light bar that could have displayed a tone of colour to represent the colour of your team.
Graphically, Riptide GP: Renegade is just as amazing as Riptide GP2 with excellent water effects comprising of waves which ripple across the track and water droplets that splash upwards onto the camera and then flow downwards after a heavy landing from a large jump or performing a stunt. Hydro jet models and trackside environments look just as great in 1080p resolution, alongside an incredible level of performance at 60 frames-per-second, especially given that the futuristic and apocalyptic environments require more to be happening in the distance or in the immediate vicinity accompanied by the addition of police hydro jets and drones. Everything graphics and performance wise are complimented by smooth hydro jet animations for handling, jumps and aerial manoeuvres required for performing stunts as well as rag doll physics which see riders fly up in the air after crashing their hydro jet and the ability for hydro jets to truly provide a sense of speed which only progresses as you earn faster hydro jets and upgrade them to perform at their optimal potential.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, career menu, challenge mode menu, quick race menu, online multiplayer menu, split-screen menu, stats menu, settings menu and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick or touch pad. The background of the menu screens displays racing action and performances of stunts, while not navigating through any of the menus will produce an A.I. controlled gameplay video.
The audio revolves around sound effects including hydro jet engines accelerating and boosting, hydro jets colliding with one another or scraping along the track barriers, water splashing after a heavy landing from a hydro jet and ambient sound effects such as static electricity and even weather conditions including heavy rain, howling winds and thunder. The main addition to the audio being the police sirens that roar when they are nearby to indicate you need to pullover, although despite the introduction of a full-length story there are actually no voice-overs for any of the characters which is accompanied by no race commentary, while the music mostly consists of sci-fi infused pop and dance. There is surprisingly no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced any layer of audio such as hydro jet engines, boosting, collisions, water splashing, ambient sounds or even music.
The trophy list includes 25 trophies with 10 bronze trophies, 7 silver trophies, 7 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. There are some easier trophies including the Racer bronze trophy for winning your first race event; the Stunter bronze trophy for winning your first freestyle event; the Start the Hunt bronze trophy for finding one Easter egg; and the Mechanic bronze trophy for upgrading any hydro jet to its maximum potential. The harder trophies include the Rogue Wave gold trophy for performing a level 10 stunt off a wave in The Ruins; the Elite gold trophy for finishing first position in all career events; the Renegade gold trophy for reaching level 20 in career; and the Reckless gold trophy for continuously boosting for 30 seconds on any track. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 10 to 15 hours to platinum the trophy list.
There are three difficulty levels including rookie, pro and elite with each step up in difficulty level resulting in a faster race pace from fast for rookie to faster for pro and even fastest for elite which applies to the quick race and local multiplayer game modes, although the career mode definitely has a noticeable difficulty curve that gradually incrementally increases after every few events which is balanced by upgrades made to the hydro jet and learning new skills to improve maximum potential of your own race pace. It is definitely recommended to start any game modes outside of career mode on the rookie difficulty as pro and most certainly the elite difficulty will see a race pace that is not exactly easy to keep up with; unless you have a fully upgraded hydro jet and a real mastering of the handling and performance of the stunts, while the police hydro jets become far more aggressive and harder to manoeuvre beyond.
The split-screen multiplayer possesses an excellent level of performance for 2 to 4 players with customisable screen positioning for each of the 2, 3 or 4 players featuring 1 to 3 lap races depending on the length of the track throughout variations of tracks across four tournaments. There is a points tally which reflects the standings of participating players in championship order that certainly adds to the competitiveness and fun of the multiplayer experience, while the massive improvement to the split-screen multiplayer comes from the inclusion of up to six A.I. controlled hydro jets to make for a field of 8 riders and just as many police as during the single player career mode with three difficulty levels to adjust their ability. There are a variety of hydro jets with their own attributes, customisable colour schemes and riders, although the number of A.I. controlled hydro jets cannot be reduced, it is not possible to have a single race without entering into a tournament, there are no elimination or freestyle events and the amount of laps cannot be increased manually.
The performance during online multiplayer is just as good as single player with the same sense of speed, graphics, up to 8 players and an incredibly consistent connection that seen me play 39 consecutive online multiplayer games within the same lobby against the same opponents until I had to reluctantly leave the game, although there is no capability of adding any amount of A.I. to flesh out the field when less than 8 players are participating. The introduction of online multiplayer to the Riptide GP series includes a quick match mode to find an available lobby to start a match as quickly as possible, while there is also a create match mode which provides the ability for you to create your own customised lobby with a choice of privacy settings for a public lobby in which anyone can join or a private lobby where only your friends can join and three difficulty levels. Both online modes provide players with a selection from 11 skins, 9 riders and 9 hydro jets with later riders and hydro jets having to be unlocked in career mode as well as a continuous run of consecutive races including a points system resulting in a tournament for as long as players want to participate; accompanied by a fluent method of track selection in which three tracks are randomly selected for players to vote for their preferred track, although if no players vote or if the tracks receive the same number of votes, then one of those tracks will be selected at random.
The online leaderboards focuses on the best times for each of the 9 tracks from the Challenge Mode with each track reflecting your position based upon how high your track time ranks in comparison to your PSN friends with the positioning of each player based upon how quick they have completed that particular track, although it would have been great to see the inclusion of worldwide online leaderboards as well as points based online leaderboards for the Freestyle event type and results focused online leaderboards for the career mode and online multiplayer races.
The replayability stems from many areas such as an extensive career mode which implements a rivalry driven story across 9 tracks and 4 event types as well as a Challenge mode which provides competitive online leaderboards through racing against the lap times of PSN friends across all 9 tracks, earning gold stars to unlock new career events, earning in-game currency to purchase new hydro jet upgrades, earning enough XP to level up in order to earn skill points to learn new abilities and stunts, alongside entertaining split-screen multiplayer for up to 4 players as well as one of the most entertaining and thrilling online multiplayer experiences in quite some time for up to 8 players which will collectively have players returning for an extensive period of time.
Overall, Riptide GP: Renegade is a genuine improvement upon the already excellent Riptide GP2 in a number of areas, therefore if you are a fan of arcade or water based racing games such as Hydro Thunder and most certainly if you appreciate split-screen or online multiplayer racing, then Riptide GP: Renegade is absolutely a highly recommended game.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- 4 player split-screen multiplayer
- Thrilling online multiplayer for up to 8 players
- Extensive career mode
- Balanced in-game currency and XP systems rewarding positive finishing positions Hydro jet upgrades Unlockable stunts
What I Dislike:
- No elimination or freestyle events in split-screen and online multiplayer
- Cannot reduce the amount of A.I. in split-screen multiplayer
- No A.I. options for fleshing out the field in online multiplayer races