by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Wipeout, sort of
Riptide GP2 is the second in the waterlogged franchise from Vector Unit. Originally released on mobile platforms, it finally made its way to PC with improved visuals and multiplayer. As its predecessor, the game has you racing a Hydro Jet - essentially a futuristic high powered jet ski - onto the water and boost and trick your way to victory against your opponents. Think Wipeout but on water. Just not as good.
The career mode is split up into nine series, each with an increasing number of events. The different game modes are a standard race event, a single hot lap, an elimination mode where the rider in last place when is eliminated when the time runs out, and a freestyle event where you must perform tricks to get points. For a futuristic racing league, it sure uses a lot of standard racing game modes. The game ships with a lot of levels, but when it is limited to just those few game modes, and often reused tracks, the lack of variety quickly becomes clear.
As for the actual gameplay, there’s not a great deal to complain about, but there is nothing to really get excited about either. The water physics are nice, and probably the most impressive thing about the game. Getting caught in the wake of another jet will alter your course somewhat, meaning taking a turn behind a group of other riders is a choppy affair. It never seems like enough though. Collisions don’t feel heavy even at high speed, and often result in some weird things going on. At one point I took a jump and landed directly on top of another rider, and he was fully submerged underneath my jet for several seconds until I veered off course.
Tricks and upgrades
Tricks help to keep things interesting. Each level has a few ramps from which you can get some air and perform stunts. The more complex the stunt, the more you’ll get added to your boost meter. It becomes a trade off between performing a more risky stunt to get a bigger speed boost, and simply riding past the ramp to avoid crashing. Each trick is a preset animation, rather than you holding a pose for as long as you deem necessary, so you can usually be sure that as long as you’ve pushed the buttons to perform the trick as you leave the ramp, you’ll be fine.
Each race earns you experience, and as you level up you’ll be able to unlock new and better stunts, each with increasingly difficult button press combinations. As well as experience, you’ll earn currency which is used to upgrade and buy new hydro jets. I found this upgrade system to be fairly flawed. As you progress, the competition will become tougher, so you’ll need to upgrade your jet. However it gets to a point where your jet can’t be upgraded anymore, so you’ll need to buy a better one to keep up. Every time this happened the new jet wasn’t as good as the old jet that I had just given up, meaning I had to spend even more money to get it up to par. Downgrading to gain the potential of a better upgrade was bizarre, and just resulted in having to replay some old levels to gain more money.
I’d love to talk about the multiplayer, but after several attempts of waiting five minutes or more to find a match, I never managed to find anyone else playing, which is a shame. There’s also a VR Mode, which allows you to race against recordings of people on your Steam friends list - which of course requires you to have people on your friends list who have played Riptide GP2. I’d like to have seen how the game worked with other humans, as the AI isn’t that impressive, usually only beating you because their jet is simply better than yours.
Visually Riptide GP2 looks okay, but often shows off its mobile roots. The electronic music was generic to the point that it sounds like some of the songs were just ripped from a royalty free soundtrack (which may actually be the case, I’m not sure).
No perfect match
Riptide is a franchise that made its home on mobile devices, and that’s probably where it should stay. There’s nothing offensively wrong with the game, but there’s just not a whole lot here to go on in terms of gameplay, game modes and the potential for a fun filled thrill ride. The technology has been improved in the jump across to PC, but the potential for something much better is there given the power of the platform. That said, there aren’t many futuristic jet ski racing games out there right now. If that’s what you’re looking for, Riptide GP2 might be the one you have to make do with.
Water physics are decent.
There’s a lack of variety. It’s a mobile port that doesn’t do enough to live up to PC expectations.