As I may have mentioned before, having lived by the coast up until recently, I can appreciate the adrenaline rush that you get from motorised water sport. There was a jet-bike sales place around a mile away and we frequently had them hopping across the waves in a shower of fun. I didn’t have the funds or temerity to try this, but it looks like something I’d need to dry-clean the wetsuit for every time I’d tried it.
Riptide GP2 in many respects, evokes the same kind of responses in me from a gaming point of view. From the very beginning of the game, the idea is to get you in the water and used to the idea of getting a bit damp. The initial exchanges are a taster, to get you used to the handling, acceleration and braking of your jet-powered water bike. This initial session also gives you an introduction to the freestyle elements of the game.
After this short training introduction is finished, you’re into the main game menu with a choice of options. Career Mode does exactly what it says on the tin, you start off at the beginner’s season, moving on up through the difficulty levels as you go. VR Challenge allows you to race against a VR version of your friends, with the challenge being to be top of the leaderboard.
The third mode you can choose is for the splash-party animal in you. Split screen. This can handle up to 6 players in a single split-screen session. When you take into consideration that this game should be running in full 1080p at 60fps, is quite the achievement. What’s not to love about that?
Speaking of the graphics, there are two main focuses for the eye. The jet-bike and rider are well drawn and fully customisable, with the option to re-spray to your favourite colour should your heart desire. The rider moves smoothly on the bike, leaning left and right to yank it round those tricky turns. Perform some freestyling and you’re suddenly launched into an aqua-X-Fighters style plethora of handstands, bike flips, bike twists and leg stands. Timing is everything here, there’s little room for error. Get it slightly off and the chances are, you’ll end up face first in the water, losing time and places, and the precious boost you’ll have earned for the trick.
The second focus, and the one that will jump out straight away, is the water. It’s an amazing effect. It undulates and flows, catches the light and lurks in the shadows of the scenery. Land a high trick and it’ll splash your face. There are waterfalls and massive wave machines, vortexes and tunnels. All filled and flowing with the wet stuff and for the vast majority of the time, it looks so authentic, I was expecting Free Willy to come bursting out in front of me.
The only disappointment with the visuals are the background graphics. They look as if they need a little bit more polish, but with your concentration focused on the next twist in the circuit, you’d only notice it if you were really looking for it and I feel a little guilty pointing it out, especially as the game runs so fast in such a high-resolution. I’m just being picky if anything.
One thing that did disappoint was the audio. The soundtrack is repetitive and definitely one for fans of the pop genre. There’s no option to choose a different style of music unfortunately, which is a shame. Even though the game is packed very tightly to save precious HDD space, you feel as if some more choice in the music department would save the volume being turned down on occasion. The bikes all have that whiny, expected engine noise and the water is very noisy as again, you’d expect. The audio is simply adequate.
Campaign mode, then, starts you off on more or less equal footing with the majority of riders. You’ve been given a bike to start off and it’s up to you to upgrade it. Races can be broadly categorised into 3 modes, standard race, time trial, elimination. Finish in the podium places to earn XP, stars and currency. XP allows you to learn more tricks to earn more boost. The more difficult the trick, the more boost you can earn. Stack the tricks if you get the opportunity, just be aware of the timing thing I mentioned earlier. Stars allow you to progress in the campaign so it’s in your best interest to go all out for a win. Currency allows you to upgrade your machinery, or maybe even invest in new ones. You can also earn XP and cash in the VR Challenge mode, so you can always top up your earnings if something is just a little too expensive on the upgrade-cycle.
The game mechanics are easy to pick up and play, introduces a freestyle element with ramp and wave-to-air tricks. Landing these can be a little tricky, time it wrong and you’ll wipe out, losing you time and possibly a podium place. There are a good selection of tracks available. Some are multi-level, all have strategically placed ramps and waves enabling you to pull those all important tricky tricks.
Ultimately, this game should be one of your must-buys. It’s simple to pick up and easy to play. It’s fun, social and competitive as well as glorious to look at. Riptide GP2, it’s MotoGP on water. Wipeout without the weapons. In fact, with guns, it’d be downright awesome. What are you waiting for, why aren’t you playing it now?
Thanks to Vector Unit for supplying TiX with a download code
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