Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Riptide GP: Renegade (NSW) Review

And here we go! A barrage of end of the year reviews are coming to SuperPhillip Central. Our first game of the month and of this barrage is Riptide GP: Renegade for the Nintendo Switch. Released earlier this month, I found myself enjoying splashing across the water, the waves, and finding the greatest racing line to outwit my opponents. Here's the SuperPhillip Central review.

Blazing an aquatic trail

From the makers of Hydro Thunder Hurricane comes what can be considered a spiritual successor in Riptide GP: Renegade. This futuristic aquatic jet ski racer set in a world flooded by water has seen releases on multiple platforms already, including on mobile (which SuperPhillip Central gave a B- to in my original review of the game). Now, Riptide GP: Renegade splashes onto the Nintendo Switch's eShop for a relative low cost of entry, and it's very much worth riding these waves.

Riptide GP: Renegade plops you right in to the excitement with a race to quickly learn the controls. However, upon reaching a certain point in the race, a squad of police cruisers arrest you on the spot for illegal racing. A costly setup by a character named Krex that ends up with your character in prison for two years. In that time, your crew has come up with a multi-stage plan to get even with Krex, including getting new members to join you, and earning some race cred to get back into the official racing league.

Revenge is a dish best served wet.
All of this plays out in Riptide's career mode. Here, you compete in different event types across nine race tracks to put your crew's plan in action. There are standard races, as well as Elimination style, where after every 30 or so seconds the player in last place is eliminated until there is no one left but the race leader. There are also slalom events where you slosh along the water to situate yourself on the left and right side of slalom cones as you attempt to clear the track as fast as possible. Finally, Freestyle brings the trick system of Riptide GP into full display where pulling off the sickest tricks (while keeping mind that repeated tricks award less points) within the time limit is the way to go.

The career mode follows a linear path of events split in sections. These sections each have you and your crew trying to impress a certain character enough that they'll decide to race against you in a one-on-one contest. Win the race, and you'll not only be able to race as that character, but you'll also earn a more powerful ride with better stats and more upgrade potential.

Each event in the career mode awards you with up to three stars, depending on what place you get in on the podium. The events also provide cash and experience rewards. The former is used to upgrade your current jet ski in one of four categories such as top speed, acceleration, boost, and handling. Experience is used to level your rider up, netting you skill points that can be utilized to purchase new, more complicated tricks, as well as race bonuses like better drafting of other racers, a better boost at the start of races, and more boost energy upon successfully nailing tricks.

Helpful green signs like this one just ahead show when upcoming ramps are near.
Throughout the 4-6 hour career, you'll be spending a lot of time across the same nine tracks of the game, especially due to repeating certain events due to odd difficulty jumps along the way. This can be a bit repetitive to see the same nine tracks and having to compete on them repeatedly, but the tracks are designed so well that none of them stand out as anything close to bad. Many courses provide ample shortcut opportunities. Whether it's riding up a series of geysers to reach a giant half pipe for a perfect tricking spot or navigating the wild waves of The Ruins to pass under an overpass to discover an alternate path, these shortcuts are placed cleverly throughout each track, as are the decal-unlocking Easter Eggs to collect. Both shortcuts and Easter Eggs demand the player to be observant of their surroundings and to explore them, all the while gunning for first place.

You can customize your racer somewhat by not only changing which character you play as but also their vehicle. You can also alter both the color schemes of the racer and the jet ski with three different color categories to make colorful and artistic statements (or just go all Johnny Cash with a pure black outfit and bike if you like). Finally, decals and racing numbers can be applied to your racer/vehicle combination, and more and more decals are earned by competing events in career mode.

Use a color scheme and decal fit for jolly, good, old
racing representing Britannia or any country you like.
All of the events and tracks in the world don't mean a thing if Riptide GP: Renegade's gameplay isn't up to snuff. Thankfully, the handling of each vehicle, the physics of different wave types regarding how they bounce your vehicle around, and the collision detection regarding track geometry are all fantastic in design and execution. Skirting about the water's surface feels excellent, and leaping off waves and ramps to perform tricks (accomplished by tilting both analog sticks in specific directions) is always an exhilarating action.

Make sure you have plenty of room to perform your trick, or else you'll bail and lose valuable time!
Riptide GP: Renegade sports multiplayer options for local competition as well as online. The online portion isn't that active at all, unfortunately, but at the same time, with limited interaction between competitors in races, there isn't much to be found in variety. This makes the multiplayer experience a bit shallow when all it takes is one crash to be completely out of the race against more skilled players.

By virtue of being on a platform with better, more comfortable control options for a game of this type, Riptide GP: Renegade on the Nintendo Switch is a step up from its mobile offering, even though the price is more substantial on Switch. Excellent controls, handling, physics, track design, shortcuts, and a worthwhile career mode will present a lot of enjoyment for players while lackluster multiplayer options are hollow. Still, Riptide GP: Renegade manages to fly off the ramp, pulling off some incredible tricks midair while making a successful landing in the process. Forced metaphors aside, Riptide GP: Renegade is recommended by SuperPhillip Central.

[SPC Says: B]

Review copy provided by Vector Unit.

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