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I have talked about difficulty before and how it can be such a dangerous tightrope of being hard, but fun to play, and hard and not fun to play. I have yet again been challenged to see if this is one of those two situations of difficult gaming with Riptide GP: Renegade. This is a futuristic water-based racing game developed by Vector Unit. So, is this a properly balanced experience that leads to gun gameplay experiences? Well, let’s find out.
Riptide GP: Renegade is a 3D Wave Race/Hydro Thunder-style racing game where you race through different futuristic courses going through your typical racing-style challenges, like racing laps, making sure not to be in last place, and so on. Your main reward for coming in the top three spots is money that can be aimed at upgrades to make your vehicle better. You can also gain levels to make yourself better and learn new moves. Riptide has no weapon system, but instead a boost system. You gain boost power by performing stunts. Unfortunately, if you choose to use the boost, it better be at the right place and at the right time, because it’s a one-time kind of thing, and you won’t be able to use it at another time. I will get to that later. You can also unlock other vehicles by obtaining them through special races. The game also has multi-player and if you want to complete everything, you will definitely have to take some time, in terms of doing every little thing.
Graphically, it’s fine. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s not terrible looking either. I like that it’s a smooth framerate, and I never saw any dips or hiccups while racing. I mean, that should be obvious, since racing games rely on control and reactionary time to get good at the game. The music is solid techno with some upbeat tunes that get you into that racing mood.
So, this game has all the proper elements for a good Hydro Thunder/Wave Race-style game, so what went wrong? Well, it’s a couple of things. First off, the game is unbalanced in single-player. AI players can easily beat you in a race if you mess up once. Yeah, you mess up once, and you will never see second or first place. I was thinking it was the level design at first, but no. While the levels themselves are nothing special, they aren’t badly designed. Anytime I messed up, it was because I failed a stunt landing, or an obstacle got in my way. It then leads me to think it was an AI issue, because this happened multiple times through different challenges and races. I would mess up, and the AI would then hightail it past me, and I wouldn’t be able to reach them ever again. Sure, you could argue that it was a skill thing, but I would disagree. To me, when I play something like F-ZERO or Mario Kart 8, I feel like any time I messed up, it was because of me and not the AI being too smart. There is also a problem with the boost mechanic that’s set up in a really bad way. Once you gain enough fuel to boost, it’s an all-or-nothing style of boost, which seems like a terrible idea. Why not let me keep the boost and use it to my advantage when I need to, and not just blow it all at one time? It’s a bad design choice since you also have to deal with floaty water physics that can affect your turning and speed. It’s a game more reliant on trial-and-error gameplay than actual skill and fun. I hate that about certain games because it doesn’t let me do what I want, and instead goes by unspoken/unwritten rules that hold the game back for just being fun. Sure, playing the game with other friends could get rid of these issues, but by that point, why wouldn’t I just pop in a copy of Mario Kart and have fun there? Oh, and you can’t unlock new vehicles unless you beat certain “characters” in a race. Yeah, I wish I could just buy the new vehicles.
In the end, I didn’t really have fun with Riptide GP: Renegade. It’s an average racing game bogged down by bad design and AI. I really wanted this to be great, and hey, if you love this game, more power to you, but to me, it’s not worth it. If you haven’t already picked it up, I would recommend waiting for a sale and not buy it at full price. It’s always a shame when a game’s unbalanced difficulty is the reason why I didn’t find the game fun. Well, hopefully next time, it can be all that I want.
This game gets a 5 out of 10.