Purchases and upgrades
Between races you can upgrade and customize your hydro-jets (jet skis) to give you an edge. Riptide lets you use your race winnings to buy upgrades for acceleration, top speed, handling, and improving your boost. Each upgrade to a single skill costs more than the one before, so you'll need to keep racing to earn more cash. Like many games these days, you can buy in-game cash with real money, but I found you can definitely earn it on your own with a little patience.
As you progress, you'll also be able to buy new, cool-looking hydro-jets with more power and better maneuverability. The hydro-jets are expensive, so you'll need to balance the need to upgrade an old hydro-jet with saving money for new ones. Buying new hydro-jets is where the temptation to use real money for in-game cash is difficult to ignore. But with a racing game of this caliber, it won't be that hard to continue racing to slowly earn the money.
Boost is the key
You can choose from a few different control systems in the settings, but it's important to note that none of them lets you control the throttle. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, because you need to concentrate more on making smooth turns and pulling off amazing tricks in order to build boost power. While throttle control would be nice, it's the boost ability that gives you an extra burst of power for higher jumps and careening past your opponents. I stuck with the default control system that lets you tilt to steer and use gestures for tricks, but there are gamepad options for steering if that's your preference.
So, what's the drawback?
Like any jet-ski racer, I can't help but compare Riptide GP 2 to the ancient, yet amazing, Wave Race 64. While the graphics for Riptide are obviously better than what we had on the Nintendo 64, for raw gameplay I think the comparison is valid.
The different game types and outlandish tricks keep the gameplay interesting in Riptide, but one feature in Wave Race 64 could have added to the fun in this game: forward and back tilt controls. Wave Race let you dive into the water and shoot back out, giving you the opportunity to create air for a trick, while you'll only be able to perform tricks off of ramps and occasional large waves in Riptide. It's not a huge drawback, but it's a feature I continue to miss in water-racing games to this day.
Overall, Riptide GP2 is an excellent water racer that looks as good as it plays. With online multiplayer, upgrades, and several tracks on different worlds, it has a ton of replay value.