“Taking On Water”
Developer: Vector Unit
Publisher: Vector Unit
Format: PC, PS4 (reviewed)
Released: July 26, 2016
Copy supplied by publisher
Perhaps years ago, Riptide GP: Renegade would have had the necessary components to impress. Coming with a wide variety of modes, maps, and customization, Renegade is in possession of the hard numbers to support a worth-while water racer. However, Riptide GP: Renegade fails to meet the highs of its vibrant 90s arcade influences, drifting to the wayside as it falls victim to its lesser qualities. Poor visuals, obtuse pacing in career mode, and an overall lack of aesthetic zest, rob Renegade of the opportunity to sit upon the genre’s throne. The entire experience struggles to make much of a positive impression, putting forth a wealth of activities for players to compete in, then proceeding to stumble when attempting to reinforce them with anything exhilarating. Riptide GP: Renegade isn’t offensively bad, but the bland and drab nature of its gameplay, visual design, and tedious progression, hold it back from being impressive.At the core of Riptide GP: Renegade is an expansive career to participate in, offering racers a slew of different modes and maps to sink their teeth into. The initial scope of the mode is admirable, teasing an impending venture ripe with the versatility to inspire replayability. However, for as extensive and lengthy as Renegade’s story portion is, it can feel more exhausting than exhilarating. Mechanically, developer Vector Unit’s arcade water racer is par for the course. Accelerating with R2, preforming elaborate stunts with the joysticks, and boosting with X, the basic controls are about where they should be. This accessibility lends a level of graspable ease to pulling off stunts while airborne, making for an somewhat enjoyable gameplay routine when racing around the various tracks. That said, the pattern wears thin before Renegade is able to fully plant its feet, causing for an experience that eventually devolves into a series of procrastinations. It becomes clear after a while that the full-scale career isn’t as diverse as it initially seemed, often drowning in repetition and ill-crafted ramping difficulty. The story attempted to be told here is also rather lackluster, bogged down by annoying text interjections from the career’s more prominent characters.
RENEGADE HOUSES A WEALTH OF ACTIVITIES, BUT STILL SUFFERS FROM REPETITION AND POOR PACE
Aside from Riptide GP: Renegade’s obnoxious narrative remarks, the project is also graphically rough around the edges, battling poor environmental textures and occasionally crude animations. Working with a noticeably low budget, Renegade can look and feel flat. Key aspects such as water physics, stunts, and the visual appeal of select maps, can actively work against the potential enjoyment to be extracted from Renegade’s more desirable components. Racing at breakneck speeds can be electrifying, especially when executing an array of death-defying stunts following a massive jump.
Even more commendable is Riptide GP: Renegade’s sweeping collection of activities. From online and splitscreen multiplayer, to leaderboard and career modes, the project certainly isn’t hurting for things to do; however, there’s a catch. Riptide GP: Renegade squanders its potential with increasingly obvious repetition, requiring multiple repeats of certain events if looking to make your way through the career’s entirety. These moments of redundancy severely halt the pace of play, demanding you return to past races in order to earn more in-game money and net more XP, which then goes into upgrading. It’s here where Renegade feels like an unnecessary grind, resulting in the realization that my skills had next to nothing to do with the fate of specific races. Instead, the only way to win would be upgrading the statistics of my hydrojet to the point it would be deemed passable. This isn’t an issue inherently, but the way in which the process is presentationally executed can be discouraging.Conclusion: All is not lost with Riptide GP: Renegade. There are glimmers of thrills as you drift your turbo-powered jet ski around the winding courses, nevertheless, they’re not enough to sustain an impactful lasting impression. What we’re left with is a bland, repetitive, and occasionally enjoyable jaunt back to the nostalgic arcade racers of the 90s. The breadth of modes to experiment within are admirable, ranging from career, to leaderboards, to multiplayer options including both online and splitscreen. Riptide GP: Renegade isn’t lacking a volume of content, rather a fresh variety of activities to partake in and longterm incentives to maintain one’s dedication. There came a point where Renegade lost its motive for me to continue, failing to encourage spending more time on the water. In turn, this created for a swift loss of interest, pushing me away from spending more hours grinding to improve the effectiveness of my racer. Reminiscent of trailing behind in a high-stakes race, Riptide GP: Renegade often feels like mediocrity is nipping at its toes. Pulling it away from the finish line, Renegade’s more underwhelming tendencies eventually culminate into enveloping frustrations, holding back the title from the nostalgic highs of the experiences it pays homage to.
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