Hop on that jet ski and command the waves in this spiritual successor to Hydro Thunder.
"Wow." "Holy crap." "Oh my god." Those are but three reactions we had upon seeing the outstanding visuals in Riptide GP, the latest title from Vector Unit, the same talented studio behind the critically acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade game, Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Suffice to say, if you love that console hit, wait until you get a load of this thrilling jet ski racer.
Hydro Thunder's influence can seen immediately, both in track design and the jaw dropping graphics. Need a fancy looking app to show off your snazzy iPhone 4S or iPad 2? Look no further.
This is, without question, one of the finest looking games for iOS and Android. Tracks feature moving set pieces (trains, satellite dishes), shortcuts, light that reflects off vehicles/riders and most important of all, water that reacts dynamically to the action. Take the lead, and it becomes a fine sheet of glass. Fall behind, and the racers in front produce waves that launch your jet ski into the air. Cutting edge stuff, given the respective platforms.
The fact that the action maintains a consistent speed, with little dips in frame rate here and there, is a testament to Vector Unit's outstanding abilities. Races are fast paced and intense, as you physically tilt the device to steer, careening around turns and flying off ramps, where the opportunity arises to perform tricks, thereby earning boost power, by sliding your thumbs across the screen in various directions.
That said, Riptide GP is a game with room for aggressive expansion. The biggest omission is a lack of multiplayer, which we'll partially forgive since the game was apparently designed by two people in less than five months, which is probably some sort of achievement. That notwithstanding, online or even wireless multiplayer would have greatly enhanced the package, though the option to post to OpenFeint and Game Center definitely adds a nice addictive quality to what's here.
There's also a conspicuous lack of tracks. You receive 12, but six are merely the first batch in reverse. We'd also like to see more jet skis; the game comes with six.
As for modes, Championship is your standard "race to earn medals" affair, while Hot Lap challenges you to beat your best lap times. Race, on the other hand, does just that, letting you hop into a contest with little effort.
Ultimately, Riptide GP is a graphically intense and fun racer that'll keep you wet, wild and fully engaged for several hours. Definitely worth $4.99, and congrats to Vector Unit on such a artistically impressive and fun effort. Now bring on the updates.
Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.
What's Hot: Near Hydro Thunder Hurricane quality graphics, speedy gameplay, OpenFeint/Game Center support, gnarly wave effects, universal.
What's Not: No multiplayer, not enough vehicles and tracks, only one control type.