Riptide GP2 on Xbox One is the latest game release from developer Vector Unit. Gamers coming from Xbox 360 may remember their debut release Hydro Thunder Hurricane which splashed onto systems in 2010. This beloved sequel to Midway’s Hydro Thunder was everything we wanted it to be. I am pleased to announce that Riptide GP2 delivers some of that same excitement, just in a smaller package.
In Riptide you race on an upgradable and customizable rocket-powered hydro jet. Let that sink in a moment. We’re racing on Jet Skis powered by rockets, which by itself is pretty awesome. It gets crazier because each jet has a boost feature that will propel your driver even faster down the track. While playing the game you will experience a variety of different aquatic tracks, and the career mode spans a whopping 60 events. The tracks are futuristic closed arena-like tracks similar to Grand Prix circuits of the present day.
At its core Riptide GP2 is a simple racing game, however the change of environment from tarmac to water changes the dynamic of the game from other racing titles. Gone is the familiar friction of pavement, and it is replaced by a loose drift when negotiating turns. This is easily the most apparent difference that sets Riptide apart, and with it the first thing to learn. The second ingredient for success in Riptide GP2 is your ability to bust a move. At various points along each track is a jump and refilling your aforementioned boost meter is dependent on successfully landing tricks on these jumps. The more complex and difficult a trick, the more boost you will receive as a reward.
Every event in the game is challenging in its own right, and all are split up into four types. Races are self-explanatory with the sometimes difficult objective of finishing first in a field of AI opponents. Elimination races have a similar “finish first” goal, but with the added twist that every 15 seconds the last place racer is eliminated. Hot Lap events are one-lap time trials. Freestyle events take the normal mechanic of boost-for-tricks and blows it up to give points for each trick in a most points wins competition. The freestyle events were the ones I had the most trouble with, but none are too difficult to prevent career progression.
On the technical side of things Riptide GP2 is beautifully smooth as the entire game runs at 1080p and 60fps. Reality is that all games (especially racing ones) should be hitting 60fps, so it is refreshing to see Vector Unit keep the game at this level. This is where one of the criticisms of the game will come out, because even though the game is a clean 1080p the game is clearly one not developed for Xbox first. Riptide GP2 released on Android and iOS half a year ago and the graphics and menu elements show it. That is not to say the game is ugly, quite the opposite actually. However it does leave something to be desired when using a controller for a menu clearly made for a touch screen.
Here is where I mention a holy grail that Riptide GP2 nails flat out. If you want a fun and simple racing game to play during parties and hangouts, Riptide has something for you. Six. Player. Local. Multiplayer. I had the opportunity to test this out and it is every bit as awesome as it sounds. The multiplayer menu gives you the option of selecting 2,3,4,5 or 6 people to play together on the same Xbox and it is simply great fun to be had by all. What is perhaps even more impressive is that each of the six screens screams at 60fps and there is no slowdown at all. There are Xbox Live leaderboards but sadly no Live multiplayer, so if online multiplayer is a requirement you may need to look elsewhere. Locally though, it is simply outstanding.
At the end of the day Riptide GP2 is a super fun and very simple water racing game in the shadow of Hydro Thunder. The game does not have the depth of the bigger racing games on Xbox One, however at a price tag of just $5 it is hard to argue with the amount of content you get. The campaign is interesting, varied, and challenging; but split-screen multiplayer is where the game is seriously brilliant. It is also worth noting that Vector Unit has managed to include both male and female riders in the game’s character customization with no change to gameplay experience.