Publisher: Vector Unit
Developer: Vector Unit
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Platforms: PC [Reviewed], Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Mobile
Disclaimer: A Steam code was provided by the developer for review purposes on PC.
The folks over at Vector Unit are no strangers to water-based racing games. Riptide GP: Renegade is a continuation of their expertise in this field. Following up to the two previous entries in the Riptide GP series, Renegade offers a ‘story’, along with a slightly more robust set of features. While the gameplay virtually remains the same, the additions made to the formula do add a more depth over what has been previously offered.
The game’s aforementioned plot follows Impact, a GP racer who was locked up for taking part in an off-record race with his rival. His nemesis turns out to be the one that set him up, thus resulting in his conviction. After being released from prison, Impact immediately sets off to climb the GP ranks again in order to take down his rival turned arch-enemy, that is now the champion of the sport. The addition of a story adds some drama to the formula, but it really wasn’t necessary. There are many other arcade racers out there with stories, like a lot of the Need for Speed titles, but I never found it to be a necessity most of the time; a-la Mario Kart. Seeing that the game doesn’t have any cut-scenes or even voice-acting, it makes the inclusion of a story feel even more forced.
With the story taking place in the Career mode, you have no choice but to endure it in order to make any sort of meaningful progression. The game puts you behind the handle bars of a vehicle which is called a ‘hydro jet’. They can be customized to your liking from the very beginning, allowing you to change the color scheme and number of your ride. Winning races will allow you to earn cash in order to upgrade them. There are multiple hydro jets to choose from, each one possessing their own set of stats. It’s great that you’re able to buy upgrades for them, but winning is a lot easier said than done. The game offers no way to select the difficulty of the AI, thus leaving you to fend for yourself with each event. This may sound pretty straightforward, but the AI really is no joke.
From the very beginning of my hydro jet career I was restarting races. It’s one thing for a game to be challenging, but there were times when it really just felt unfair; it’s as if the expectation is to be perfect from the start, otherwise you definitely have no chance of making it to the end. This is regardless of the terrain or racers you are confronted with.
As you would expect, racing on water is a completely different experience from racing on land. The game does a good job at making it all feel different, but it’s definitely a little more frustrating than I would have hoped. My hydro jet felt like a tank with rocket boosters at times, even after upgrading the handling. And seeing that the AI seems like its permanently stuck in ‘super advanced mode’, any mistakes you make could very well cost you the race. Even with that said, it’s not all bad.
Just like in the past games, you can pull off cool tricks. Successfully landing a trick will cause your Boost gauge to fill, something that you’re definitely going to need in each race. The control inputs are simple enough, and there’s a large variety. New tricks can even be unlocked via Skill Points, which are earned by placing as high as possible in each race. Skill points can also be spent on actual skills, such as getting a longer boost, or being able to Draft behind opponents. There’s also a pretty decent variety of races, such as the traditional Point A – Point B style and others like Slalom and Elimination. To tie-in with the story, the game also offers Boss Battle races. Winning them will unlock new vehicles. Outside of the Career, there’s also the usual Quick Race mode, along with local and online multiplayer options. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to try out the online multiplayer due to playing the game early before its official release.
Gameplay wise, Renegade isn’t really all that bad. It has its flaws, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had with the sense of speed and cool tricks. Not to mention that the various locales are also pretty nice, even though their themes do kind of mesh together. How’s the rest of the package?
The visuals really haven’t changed all that much from Riptide GP 2. The water effects still look nice, along with the vehicles being pretty detailed. You can actually see a lot of individual moving parts, which was a nice touch. The stages won’t exactly wow you, but they don’t look terrible. Each vehicle sounds pretty similar to each other, but the motors are nice enough. Speaking of sound, the music selection is made up entirely of electronic/techno and dubstep. They match the theme of the game pretty nicely, but if you aren’t a fan of those genres then you may be pretty annoyed. Overall, the presentation is nice. It won’t blow you away, but it’s not bad to look at either. The relatively simple visuals also allow those with less powerful systems to be able to run the game at a decent framerate.
⇁ THE BOTTOM LINE ⇀
At the end of the day, Riptide GP: Renegade is best described as being a mixed bag. It has a lot of great new ideas, but the overall execution is mostly hit-and-miss. The story feels tacked-on and unnecessary, while the difficult AI makes it all the more frustrating to even try progressing through the Career mode. Winning a race should always feel rewarding, but it honestly feels more tiring due to the many times that you will have to restart a single race just to at least try and make it in 3rd place. Nevertheless, having the ability to upgrade and customize your vehicle is great and is a good incentive to try and do your best in each event. The visuals aren’t anything that will dazzle you, but the water effects do look great and the vehicles are pretty detailed.
So, is it really worth a buy? Well, yes, and no. If you’re a fan of the Riptide GP series then you may actually enjoy it, regardless of its flaws. If you’re just getting into series, however, I’d really recommend you check out Riptide GP 2, as it offers a more balanced experience than Renegade. At only $15, Renegade is a decent price, but the overall difficulty may leave some thinking that the money could have been better spent. Even so, I can say that it’s not really a bad game, it just has its fair share of flaws that stop it from being what I would consider ‘great’.
- Vehicles are customizable and upgradeable.
- Water effects continue to look great, and the vehicles are well detailed.
- Sense of speed is good.
- AI difficulty is high, but can't be changed.
- The story feels tacked-on and unnecessary.
- Environments look decent, but could be better.
- Engine sounds are relatively tame.