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When you think of water-based racing video games, the most recent title that should pop into your head is Hydro Thunder Hurricane on the Xbox 360. Well strangely enough the developers of that, Vector Unit, have treated us to the sequel of a popular mobile game in the form of Riptide GP2 on Xbox One. Will we bask in this exciting water sport on offer here or simply want to dry ourselves off and throw in the towel?

Basically, we are looking at a racing game, using Hydro Jets which are jacked up with rocket boosters, whilst the riders attempt to pull off tricks that Tony Hawk would be jealous of, but I‘ll come back to those. You have three choices of where to begin; the Career, VR Challenge or up to six player split-screen. For now I want to focus on the Career.

Career is the meat of Riptide GP2, here is where most longevity will come from especially as a solo gamer. The aim is to play events, earning up to three stars for your performance in these which will then unlock the next set to attempt. It’s not all straight forward racing because let’s be honest that could get boring real quick. Instead, for the most part, they switch it up regularly to prevent the same event styles being one after another.

There are standard races which tend to be competitive till the very last corner and keep you on your toes because one crash or terrible corner late on could see rivals overtake you for the glory. Then we have the slightly more tense Elimination type; every so often the last positioned racer will be eliminated from the race so making your way to the front of the pack early is really important. Both of these events have you surrounded by racers chomping at the bit and with that, this allows the excitement of the roughly two minute long races to continue throughout.

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Now onto the more relaxed Freestyle, the object being to score as many points from doing tricks as possible in the allotted time. Depending on the difficulty, some may be worth more than others or could even score less if repetition occurs and in a way that forces you to remember the different combinations to perform them.

Last but not least is the type I’ve always associated with being entirely a test of your ability and that is Hot Lap. The requirements here are to set a lap time equal to or faster than the times shown for either one, two or three stars. It’s not as fun speeding around the tracks on your own, however it does help you become familiar with some of the trickier ones.

This will take you through a total of 63 events and it may sound a large amount to get through, fortunately it never feels like any kind of chore though due to the quickness in which they can be finished. It helps a little that along the way you can level up and earn cash so you can get yourself a new hydro jet or add a few tricks to the arsenal (performing these adds to a speed boost meter) to not only freshen things up, but also give you an edge over the competition.

Where does one go once that’s complete? VR Challenge apparently, however the enjoyment here depends on two things… the first being your competitive nature and the second, whether your friends have Riptide GP2 too. It’s basically time trials on each track and times will compare with those set by people on your friends list.

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That’s the only form of competing with online friends on Riptide which is a slight disappointment. Feel free to get them round to your couch for a few races though as it offers up to six players a chance at showing off their skills in a local split-screen mode. Given the speed of play and the way things can change at the use of the boost meter, it’ll be a whole lot of fun that’s for sure.

Racing on all water-based tracks could get samey, yet with 13 different track variations included I can’t stress this enough that it really doesn’t feel repetitive. Sure there are one or two that are a pain in the neck to navigate but I wasn’t thinking “oh not this one again”. They range in themes from ice caverns to an elevated city and even a strange facility that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi film.

One of the last and most important aspects of Riptide to mention is of course that the physics can have a big impact of the outcome of events. The waves when calm can be easy to zoom over without too much trouble and only taking a ramp jump will cause any real negative effect as you bob up and down after the landing. Further on into the career you’ll notice the trickier tracks have bigger waves that can either be used to trick off or can seriously hinder your control of the hydro jets. I think they’ve nailed it with the water physics more than any other racing game that has incorporated them before.

I dare say my expectations were exceeded in Riptide GP2 as it was exciting to play even after my tenth event in a row. Vector Unit have kept the durations almost the perfect length to get the most enjoyment from the Career. It may have only taken around six hours to clean up on all the stars but given the price it’s still brought great value. My only real major negative is the lack of online multiplayer as this could’ve added a whole new layer of fun.

For £3.99 I’m not sure why you’re even waiting, it’s a very good pick up and play racer.

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