I still remember the halcyon days of booting up my dad's computer and firing up the maddeningly addictive Microsoft's Motocross Madness. Arguably the best title in the now-forgotten "Madness" series of racing titles published by Microsoft, this game paved the way for my affection of off-road dirt bike racing games. It also served as an introduction to tricks and stunt pulling, which is imperative to succeed in the stunt mode section of the game. This ultimately led to an interest in games of similar fashion, such as the SSX series, Team17's Stunt GP, and the surprisingly robust Trick Star on the Game Boy Advance.
These games offer a flexible means of pulling off sick stunts and generally take place on land. Now imagine a game where the racing takes place primarily on water and the tricks are pulled off automatically with minimal input. Stop imagining because that game is Riptide GP: Renegade. Rolls right off your tongue, doesn't it?
Water racing games are not my forte, I just don't excel in them. True, I've played my fair share of them when I was young, but most of the time they weren't even proper water racing games; the water levels arrived in segments, and usually in short bursts. On the surface it may look like I'm not the right guy to review a game such as this, but because I'm not afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone every now and then, I decided to give this game a try... and I gotta say it's not bad at all. Renegade takes place in the future where everything is covered in water.
In what can be said as a nice departure from the otherwise stark tracks I've seen from similar titles, Renegade populates its tracks with submerged towns and ruins of civilization. You'll be zipping around slabs of debris, in and out of decrepitude subway stations, and through abandoned factories. Sounds good in theory and, believe it or not, actually works very well in practice too. The rather impressive visuals help in selling the sci-fi futuristic setting of the game, and overall provide nice eye-pleasing environments that you don't often quite see in games of similar ilk. If you're a fan of the WipeOut games - especially the older ones - then you'll get a nice tingling sense of deja vu here.
Riptide actually has a story that ties the apocalyptic sci-fi setting together, but in all frankness it amounts to nothing more than window dressing. The gameplay is nothing special - pick a driver, select a vehicle, and go - but the animations look wicked and the controls are responsive... until you get to the part where you pull stunts. I don't know if this issue is unique to my copy of the game - and I cannot find enough complains about it online - but I always experienced a slight delay between my pushing the buttons and the action. As such, I often found myself fumbling the stunt and wiping out: thus, losing my lead and to an extent, a little bit of any joy left. This became all the more cumbersome in the slightly more difficult races with advanced racers.
On the odd occasion where I managed to finish an entire race without wiping out once, I came to this realization just how underdeveloped the whole stunt system is. Utilizing a similar system as that of previously mentioned racing titles, you simply push a key and one of the arrow buttons at the time same to execute a stunt - simple stuff, really. The problem with that, however, is there's no unique combination. You can pull off any random stunt if you keep pressing the same combination over and over, thus removing any excitement to be had doing the one cool thing racing fans have come to love since Motocross Madness. Combine the simplicity with delayed controls and you have one rather mundane experience.
In conclusion, despite its faults Riptide has some good things going for it: the animations are pretty good, the vehicle models look very attractive, and so indeed is the entire game. Heck, the game even manages to keep your attention for about an hour before mundane sets in. It's a good looking racer; I just wish it were nearly as good technically.
Article by Hamza