As much as I desperately want to love my Xbox One, the platform hasn’t come anywhere close to hitting its stride, especially compared to its predecessor. I actually took the time to dust off and boot up my aging Xbox 360 this past weekend, and quickly came to the realization that the console’s digital offerings were just as strong as its retail library. In a span of a couple of days, I got to revisit retro titles like Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and The Secret of Monkey Island, and more recent games such as Shadow Complex and Limbo.
Still, it’s not all that bad. Last month saw the release of Kalimba (a surprisingly refreshing take on the puzzle platformer), and a stellar port of the iOS hit Threes! (which happens to be one of my favorite games from last year). This month sees the release of Riptide GP2, a $5 arcade/jet ski racing game that originally debuted on mobile devices back in 2013.
To be honest, I was hoping that Riptide GP2 would bring back fond memories of arcade racers from years past (specifically, Wave Race and Hydro Thunder), but the game just wasn’t able to bring enough to the table. To put it simply, it’s a functional arcade racer that is still bogged down by the weight of its mobile origins.
Riptide offers up a few modes of play, with the main attraction being the career mode. Divided into nine series, each with a few events to take part in, you’ll compete to earn stars in different race types, including standard races, single laps, an elimination round where racers are cut one-by-one, and a freestyle event that focuses on performing aerial tricks.
It’s all standard fare, and the management aspects surrounding it are as by the numbers as they come.Placing higher in each event will net you more stars (which unlock future series), and the cash and XP you get from finishing a race can be used to upgrade your ride and your racer. There is some variety when it comes to performing tricks (which refills your boost meter during races), but even after you’ve unlocked more complicated tricks and stunts, the novelty of it all quickly wares off.
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this setup. After all, there are plenty of other arcade racers that are built around the same framework, including some of my personal favorites, such as Star Wars Episode 1: Racer and Wipeout Fusion. However, unlike those games, Riptide GP2 falls flat in two key areas: delivering a sense of speed, and implementing solid level design. Other than a few levels that might feature a shortcut or a hidden jump, the included track layouts are pretty pedestrian, eschewing great design for altered locales.
Outside of the career mode, there’s the oddly-included VR Challenge, an asynchronous, ‘multiplayer’ mode (and I use that term lightly) which lets you race solo through tracks in an effort to one-up your friends’ best lap times. While there might be some appeal for those who don’t have the time to get a group of friends online for a few races, it’s by no means a replacement for your standard online multiplayer, which sadly isn’t an option in Riptide GP2, despite it being available in the mobile and PC versions of the game. As a consolation, local split-screen is supported, with up to six players being able to race together.
Undeniably more conducive for quick mobile gaming sessions, Riptide GP2 doesn’t make nearly as strong of an impression on the Xbox One, and the omission of online multiplayer isn’t doing it any favors. It’s a perfectly functional title to be sure, but it’s just not very memorable.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided with.