You can't fake a jet ski game. You can't just take a regular racing game, paint the tarmac track blue, and call it a day. It won't feel right.
In Riptide GP 2, the detailed courses feel alive and dynamic. These sloshing great bodies of water have unpredictable dips and unforeseen jumps. They shift and move like an angry cat in a sleeping bag, and other racers will carve fleeting grooves in their wake.
All this makes Riptide feel unlike other racers. You're not just jostling for first place with other racers - you're also wrestling with the track itself.
Splish Splash, I was takin' a bath
It's also great fun to pull off tricks like backflips when you leap off ramps and waves. There's some strategy to your airborne acrobatics, too - basic tricks like the superman can be performed on small hops but only give you a little boost, while audacious moves like the corkscrew need huge hang time to pull off but provide a big speed increase.
It all makes for a rather thrilling little racer, with plenty to keep you engaged as you hurtle around its watery courses. If you're playing on Android, you can even enhance the fun with a physical controller - every kind you can think of is supported.
But less engaging is Riptide GP 2's gruelling difficulty. You'll often feel like you're trailing behind the competition, and finishing a hot lap event in first place seems practically impossible.
Where's My Water?
It soon becomes clear that buying upgrades - which greatly improve your acceleration, top speed, handling, and boost power - and new vehicles will level out the playing field, and put that top podium spot in your sights.
Those upgrades are expensive and money isn't handed out in huge quantities, so you'll find yourself replaying old levels to unlock enough cash to buy a competitive ride.
It's not a terrible slog, by any measure, but can be a bit of a grind. Especially if you resist the temptation to expedite matters with in-app purchases. And it's frustrating to constantly be held back not by your own skill level, but by your rubbish engine or wonky steering wheel.
Water water everywhere
It also makes the Career mode feel artificially lengthened, but with eight cups, loads of events, and plenty of unique tracks, it shouldn't need to.
Riptide GP 2 also has online play, which works perfectly well, even if the ability to use your upgraded jet ski from the campaign destroys any semblance of balance.
Ultimately, Riptide GP 2 is another fun and visually impressive racer from Vector Unit, with a lot more content than its predecessor. It's just a shame that the upgrade system is constantly conspiring to mess up the game's balance and pace.