Arcade racing – who remembers them? Sega Rally, Outrun, Wave Race 64, arcade racing doesn’t seem to be a genre that is fulfilled in today’s gaming world and this is something independent developer Vector Unit is aiming to change with Riptide GP Renegade. Vector Unit are best known for games like Hydro Thunder Hurricane and earlier Riptide GP titles.
In Riptide GP: Renegade you simply race on beefy and extreme hydrojets across eight tracks, with hidden shortcuts and secrets dotted around them. The story mode is based around a former rising star in the Grand Prix circuit, the main character wants to make a comeback to the racing scene after serving a two-year sentence for illegal racing. The story quickly becomes a tale of revenge against another racer who set up the main character. You set about rising the charts with your new team, with other racers joining you to help you climb the ranks from illegal racing.
The story is the only way to move from one event to the next, albeit the races get harder and harder as you work your way through. As with most arcade racers you start with a basic vehicle, or in this case, hydrojet. The hydrojet can be upgraded using prize money you get from each race event. The story does have a couple of subplots as well, which can bag yourself some nice rewards, with their own sub events linked to different members of your team. With the progression, you get the chance to unlock items and more powerful jets as you reach later parts of the story.
The progression system in Riptide GP: Renegade is very simple, with objectives earning one star in an event unlocking the next race. From a story point, this doesn’t really add anything special. Getting praised for a podium finish was, well, how we put it, totally ignored. As you will find out, once you get to a certain point you will get to the stage of needing more powerful hydrojets to compete against the other racers and be within a chance of coming in the top three, but to get the upgrades Riptide GP: Renegade does become a bit of a grindfest.
One thing we did notice, the upgrades actually do work and are not just for show on the stats, you have upgrades to increase acceleration, raise the handling, top speed and making the boost more powerful. Another thing we saw, the upgrades affect hydrojets in different ways, as we found some were perfect to control and some were not so easy, so you have to choose your hydrojet wisely.
We found there needs to be a bit of continuous grinding of previous events to even get enough prize money to get the decent upgrades or a new hydrojet, as you will never be allowed an easy win against the AI characters.
To add to the AI racers there is also the police jets. One feature that we found disappointing, as with your character’s history in the story, they target you and you only, so it makes the racing more difficult. Especially when some events are illegal, you would think the police will chase down the other racers as well. Instead you are the sole target despite the other seven AI racers in the event. The police actually favour the other AI racers as they help them get past you. If the police manage to get in front of you they will slow you down, and if the police are behind you, they will boost and try to block your path and ram you into objects around the circuit.
We found this very unfair as the AI are in the illegal race too, but the game is made to pin point you, the player, as the only police target, making it more difficult as you have to deal with the AI racers anyway.
As you progress and level up you will unlock new tricks and stunts to perform during the races using the ramps or jumps in the circuits. The tricks and stunts can be perfomed by pushing the analogue sticks in certain directions and combinations, with high level tricks earning more boost time. Other events include Elimination, the classic race event where the racer at the back of the pack is dropped from the race as the timer expires until one remains, being crowned the winner. In Slalom, you need to weave and work your way through gates as quickly as possible without missing any. Remember the upgrades? Well these will be your best friend in this event, as having the correct upgrade will make it easier for you.
Riptide GP: Renegade offers local and online multiplayer. Local play offers up to 2-6 players racing together across different events. The online multiplayer can be hit-and-miss when it comes to finding other players to race, often it has resulted in us leaving the online and trying again later. Even after release we still have some small issues, so we couldn’t test the latency or quality of gameplay very well.
Riptide GP: Renegade is available on: Xbox One, Windows 10, PlayStation 4, iOS, Android and Steam.