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Man, it's been a long time since I bought a racing game that wasn't AAA trash. It feels like I'm always supporting some greedy, lint-pocketed big publisher trying to strip away our rights to game, or take away the fun factors and put into place some jock-strap-dirty microtransaction fanfare that only appeals to the most sado-masochistic wallet carriers. That disturbing trend of exchanging fun for financial coffer-filling has become the staple of today's industry and words cannot describe the hate that fills my heart for those practices.
Imagine my surprise when I took a dive into a little known game called Riptide GP2 – from an equally unknown mobile developer called Vector Unit – for only $6.99 and found 60 minutes of my life thrown into the backseat of a car driven by a friendly foreigner named fun.
It's a 96 megabyte download. Yeah, let me repeat that: It's only 96MB to download, which is equivalent to the geometry of a fingernail and a texture on most AAA games.
I don't regret the short amount of time it took to bandwidth-bandwagon that bad boy onto my hard drive and boot it up to the start screen. Even more than that, I don't regret the $6.99 I put into Vector Unit's Steam cache for cash when I plucked a digital copy straight from the front page like I was picking up a freshly picked apple from the cart at the corner mart.
Now look, hands down this game is not a graphically infused beast of visually epic proportions. You're looking up the wrong tree if you want to see those kind of goods while you climb for a few moments of enjoyment out of life. What you get in Riptide GP2 is a visually acceptable game that looks par the course of something high-end off a mobile device. It's acceptable.
What's grand about the game is the freaking gameplay. It's unabashedly fun. In a world of things trying to strip fun away from you, that's something you should hug like a long lost relative you haven't seen in years.
I hugged this game with my attention like a long lost relative I haven't seen in years.
The game will instantly remind the old-school gamers – with a chip on their shoulder in search of something that isn't trying to ravage their wallets like some hocked up douche-nozzle at a club trying to get down the dress of a shorty – of Wave Race 64 fused with Jet Moto... literally. In fact, the jet racers seem to draw a strong semblance from the jet moto vehicles from Jet Moto, except they're only tuned to race over water, hence the whole bit about Wave Race 64.
While the controls are terribly simple to master, there's also a measure of challenge involved as players must balance between pulling off increasingly difficult tricks to keep the turbo meter filled all while out-maneuvering opponents. The real catch? You only get turbo when you do tricks and your turbo meter fills up less and less if you do repeat tricks, so you constantly have to do new tricks to keep the meter filled. That bit of micro-management while racing adds a whole new level of challenge and dynamics to the race that keeps the replay values intact.
There's a career mode that offers up plenty of challenges and events, from straight-through races to time challenges, elimination rounds and even stunt races to rack up a specific amount of score.
You earn money to unlock new rocket machines or upgrade your current jet moto with the cash you earn from winning. You can customize the colors as well as buy new tricks and attributes to help you further win races; and there's even an online mode to race against people from around the world, or you can play locally against competitors with a split-screen feature for up to four-players.
This game is legit.
After realizing that my new generation racing game selection was rather sparse – and I sure as heck won't be buying Forza Motorsport 5 until it's used and on sale so that Microsoft doesn't see a penny – it was a nice breath of fresh air to see Riptide on the Steam store, offering a throwback to cool, futuristic racing without any of that crap that has pervaded the AAA racing business.
It's just a flying shame that playing a game like this makes me feel guilty I gave EA money for their recent Need for Speed games. On the upside, if Vector Unit keeps making and releasing racing games like this, I'll keep buying them.