STAFF REVIEW of Riptide GP: Renegade (Xbox One)

Thursday, March 23, 2017.
by Kirby Yablonski

Riptide GP: Renegade Box art I enjoy a good water based racing game. I remember when my then girlfriend (who is now my wife) bought me Wave Race 64 and the memory expansion pack for my N64. I loved that game, as it was my first true jet-ski racing game. The physics and look of the water was amazing at the time and I played the game for as many hours at a time as I could. One of the more memorable ones since then was Hydro Thunder. I spent many hours playing it on my Sega Dreamcast, and I also played Hydro Thunder Hurricane on my Xbox 360 when it was released in the Xbox Live Arcade. Well, a game with those kinds of experiences has been released on the Xbox One. Developer Vector Unit, who made Hydro Thunder Hurricane, have made a game with consoles in mind. Riptide GP Renegade was released a few weeks ago. PS4 owners have had the chance to play this since 2016, but it is a new game to the Xbox One platform and I am here to give you my opinion.

First things first, Riptide GP Renegade provides a story. This was somewhat surprising given the fact that I just thought I’d be arcade racing through the water against other racers. The story is not deep, but it does have a bit of meaning. You are a champion hydro jet racer who was set up by another racer who was jealous of you, and you spent two years in jail for illegal racing. You are now out of "The Pen" and are looking to take down the racer who framed you as they are basking in the glory of being the new champion. You must start in the in the ‘beer leagues’ so to speak, as you race illegally to gain new team members, make a new name for yourself, and eventually get a chance to challenge the racer who cheated you out of your glory.

Career mode is the meat of Riptide GP Renegade. Here you’ll chose a racer (male or female) and have some customization options, from color scheme, number, to a decal or two. It’s nice to make your racer your own so to speak. Being Canadian I tended to keep to a red/white color scheme that would make my country proud. You knew it was me racing, that was for sure. Oh, ADHD moment here, did I mention that this game is a Play Anywhere title, so feel free to play it on your Xbox One or your PC, as you can do either as progress carries over to each platform.

Speaking of racing, you’ll be racing a lot given that there are well over 180 events for you to do. The events are found in stages, and you’ll be going through various stages that have multiple events for you to complete. There are story related stages, and then there are some side quests. These side quests are found in your career mode, but they are not necessary to complete as they just add some background to other characters. With all this being said, the number of events is insane. The event modes range from straight out racing, elimination (last place during specific time period is eliminated), freestyle (stunt mode) and slalom (race between markers – best time and least number missed). To say you won’t be doing much would be a lie.

The biggest issue with the number of events though is no matter how different, and how many there are, the fact is that you’ll be doing them on a limited number of tracks. There are around nine or so tracks, and as you race through the large number of events they can start to repeat quite quickly. I personally wish that there were more tracks, maybe a minimum of 15 or so, given how many times you’ll find yourself on each one. Some of you out there may feel like the racing can be a grind now and then, and to be honest it can, but it’s bearable as the tracks are very well designed.

Yes, the track design is solid, and some of them are quite alive as you race on them. The one thing that really struck me is the water effects and how good the hydro jets look cutting through the H20. Each track is its own area too, from flooded cities and city park waterways to those that make their way through, and under, a futuristic city or are found in desert setting that houses a submarine base. You can’t say that the dev-team didn’t try to get creative. Within these tracks are various branches, and even hidden shortcuts, and you will find many areas to pull of stunts that power up your ‘turbo’ to get you that extra boost of speed. There is a lot of stuff going on too, as each track has various environmental themes, such as stormy waves, city traffic moving above, or a warehouse beaming with activity. Oh, and should you search you’ll find an easter egg, yes, a literal easter egg, on each track, just look hard for it.

If there is one thing that is evident in this game, it is the competitive curve. This is how aggressive the AI can be when racing. You’ll find that the AI will put up quite a battle, even early in the game even when in normal mode. This is even more evident later in the game. Upgrading your hydro jet is imperative, and getting new ones, and upgrading them, is just as important as you progress through the game. You can place anywhere from 1st to 3rd and earn stars, and by doing so you open the next event, and then when you have enough stars, and events beaten, the next stage of events opens. As you find yourself racing in the latter stages your room for error is much more narrow and you’ll have to race an almost perfect race, which we all know is not always possible. So be prepared for a bit of “agony of defeat” now and then, and just take it for what it can be, a very competitive experience.

Should you want a break from the world of single player, there are a bevy of multiplayer modes to play, from local (split-screen) to online racing. In regards to the local racing, to be able to play with a few friends sitting in the same room, split-screen, is a throwback to gaming of old. And surprisingly the framerate holds up with a few players playing on the same screen. Of course you can head online to race too, and although I didn’t get too many races in online, the experience wasn’t that bad at all and online racers may be able to find a race or two to keep their interest. Having both online and local multiplayer races is a great addition and something that people should definitely consider.

Presentation Riptide GP Renegade is good. As I mentioned earlier, the track design is solid. The graphic engine that powers the game runs smooth and there were nary, if any, technical issues to be found. Given the entry price of the game ($9.99), you’d expect a budget title to look like a budget title, but this game looks above that. Sure, it’s not a triple-A looking game, but it doesn’t look bad either. As for the sound, the hydro jets sound like….well, what a hydro jet might sound like. I dunno, I have never seen one so who am I to judge, but the overall sound effects, from vehicles to that of the environment, sound pretty good and get the job done. The music is EDM like, and has a good beat which suits the futuristic time period of the game, but you’ll find that it becomes repetitive after a while as you race the same tracks over a long period of time.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by Riptide GP Renegade. Given the price of admission, this water based racer offers a long single player mode, and some local and online multiplayer racing that can be fun too. Sure, it’s not the most perfect racing experience, as it can feel like a grind at times, and the AI is as tough as nails to race against more often than not, but these points don’t take away from what the game does well. For those looking for a different racing experience, and one that won’t break the bank, take a long hard look at Riptide GP Renegade, and for those non-racing fans out there, you should also take a look at this game too, as the price is right and it is a fairly enjoyable racing experience.

Overall: 7.9 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.2 / 10
Sound: 7.5 / 10


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