Longtime Nintendo fans have fond memories of Wave Race 64, the 1996 N64 game that impressed players with its - at the time - realistic water effects and physics; jaws literally dropped. We never expected this to happen again, but then we played Riptide GP2 for iOS and Android.
We hope you own a high-end device to experience everything Vector Unit's beautiful game has to offer, because it is without question one of the most captivating apps we've seen, and it begins with the water. It pitches and rolls, swells and reflects each visually stimulating environment better than its predecessor. Charging through calm waters gives the illusion of slicing through glass, while hitting a large wave propels your rider a good 10 feet into the air.
The fact that the game's performance remains consistently good with several racers jockeying for position is even more impressive. If Riptide GP2 stutters we've yet to witness this, even during four-person online matches; one of the game's new features. Plowing through churning waters, sailing high above the tracks, pulling off an assortment of cool tricks and screaming around nasty turns work without a hitch in gameplay; to be fair, we used an iPad 3, and Vector Unit provides the option to tinker with graphical effects if you run into trouble.
The developers went with tilt as the primary control method, and we think the game handles wonderfully. That said, you may switch to touchscreen steering if moving your arms is too much of a chore and/or embarrassment.
As for the heart and soul of the game, it works similar to competing racers. You level up to earn cash, used to upgrade your current vehicle and buy additional watercraft. In addition, race types include time attack, the usual beat everyone to the finish line and elimination, where the last-place competitor gets eliminated every 15 seconds. Nothing revolutionary by any means, but certainly acceptable given the $2.99 price tag and promise of updates.
The only criticism deals with the menus, where you might accidentally jump into a race instead of cycling through the list of events. Aside from that minor irritation, Riptide GP2 is about as close to perfect as mobile games get. From the outstanding water to the Career and Online play, you'll struggle to find better racers on smartphones and tablets. We can only hope there's even more content in the months to come.
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