Riptide GP is a beautiful, high-powered, jet ski-racing graphics-fest that splashes itself across the screen of your Tegra 3 powered device, sometimes quite literally. So, if you rock a new HTC One X, the Asus Transformer Prime, or perhaps are thinking about getting a high-powered device in the near future, this is something you’ll want to check out. Read on for more…
So the very first thing you’ll notice about Riptide GP is the graphics. They are completely and utterly uncompromising in fluidity, detail and beauty. Colours are clear, vibrant and sharp, bursting from the screen with every turn, jump and stunt. The highlight is the splash effect when your jet ski creates enough of a wave to hit your rear view perspective. This creates lines of water being pushed aside from your screen, much like rain against a car’s windscreen. It’s looks just awesome – and I use that word sparingly.
There is also a very neat graphics effect when you hit Boost. This power-up, which you can earn by pulling off stunts, creates a motion-blur effect that propels you extremely fast through the water – ideal if you need to catch up with a competitor or extend your lead. But it also looks great, using an almost tunnel vision blurring that scoots you along at top speed.
On top of all this is the water itself. Never before have we seen such water detail in an Android game. In fact, such effects would perhaps only be found elsewhere on top gaming consoles. The water rolls, flicks and sways so much you’d be forgiven for feeling seasick! This is of course processor intensive, but it makes the very most of the quad core chips at your disposal. It’s something that really has to be seen to be believed, so check out the video below:
Under the Surface
Now, even good-looking games can fall woefully short without decent gameplay to back it up, right? There’s nothing more disappointing than to fire up a game of pure eye-candy but find it’s completely superficial and devoid of playability. Thankfully this is not the case with Riptide GP. Instead you get a game swarming with different gameplay opportunities.
There are three mode choices: Race, Hotlap and Championship. Race is a one-off face-off against five AI competitors, great for practicing. Hotlap lets you measure the speed of your laps, which is ideal if you want to improve your lap times and get to know the track intimately. Championship is a series of races on different tracks, in which you gain points based on your position at the end of each race. This certainly gives the game diversity and means it can be something you play casually in a few minutes or, by playing through a championship, for a more prolonged period.
There are three difficulty levels and this is reflected in the power of your jet ski. Easy lets you ride a still-nippy 250cc jet ski, Normal gives you 500cc and Hard ramps this up to 1000cc. It might seem like a no-brainer to use the faster vehicle, but the competition is really hot and you’ll have to be pretty good to come in the top three. Still, it’s definitely something to work towards.
Finally you have six different jet skis, each with different speed, acceleration and handling capabilities to choose from. You begin with three and have to unlock the others. Each jet ski really does feel different to the others, so you’ll want to try them all out to decide which is best for you and the way you race.
Starboard, Port, Bow and Stern
Traversing your jet ski around corners is an accelerometer-based affair so you’ll need to tilt in the direction of the bend. I was quite pleased to see controls are not overly sensitive so you tilt in quite a realistic fashion and this suits the gameplay well. Accelerating is automatic but on the right hand side of the screen you have a power bar, which is half-filled to begin with and gets boosted by half again with each trick you perform. These give you the motion-blur inducing speed boosts whenever you tap the bar.
Obviously things do not always go to plan and you can find yourself thrown from your vehicle at times. This pretty much always comes via a poorly executed trick. To perform these stunts, you need to manipulate the bottom corners of the screen. Using different movements you can pull off all kinds of stunts as you fly through the air. Get them right and you’ll earn extra boost; get them wrong and you’ll fall off your jet ski and lose valuable time tapping the screen to restart.
Racing games are ten-a-penny in the Google Play Store, but there aren’t many jet ski titles. In fact, if you do a search for ‘jet ski’ games you’ll get Riptide GP alongside a slew of widely panned games that you wouldn’t download if you were paid to do so. Looking further afield, you might spot Shine Runner, incidentally created by the same developer, Vector Unit. I’ve played Shine Runner before and it features lush visuals and brilliant water graphics. It’s not as accomplished as Riptide GP but is still lots of fun.
Beyond this you can encounter the likes of T-Racer HD and Return Zero. These 3D space racers are great in their own right, but don’t come anywhere close to Riptide GP in terms of beautiful coolness. Finally – and this is an interesting comparison – check out the differences between Riptide GP and Polarbit’s Wave Blaster. I remember being roundly impressed with its graphics at the time, but now Wave Blaster looks incredibly average next to Riptide GP. Times change huh?
When I got my HTC One X a couple of weeks ago, this was the first game I downloaded. It’s incredibly addictive and difficult to put down. The graphics are just out of the world and it’s soundly backed up by diverse gameplay and options. You also get superb music and sound effects which make for a wholly immersive and thrilling experience. It’s so good, in fact, that I’d almost say it’s worth upgrading your device for… almost.
Simply put, if racing games are your thing, this is as close to perfection you can get on an Android device. It looks and sounds amazing, plays like a beast and includes a plethora of gameplay options to keep you coming back for more. Just brilliant.