Vector Unit has cultivated a reputation as one of the most consistently solid developers on Android, so a new release from them is always a good thing. But when it's a new entry in the Riptide GP series, then it's time to call the boss and tell him you're (cough, cough) "sick." Riptide GP: Renegade is the third installment, and SHIELD Android TV owners can play it right now, only a few days after the PC and console release. A wider mobile release is coming later.
Renegade keeps the same basic setup from GP 2: race around in super-powered jet skis, do tricks when you hit a big wave or a ramp, get boost, and race around even faster. But while GP 2 included some rather steep in-app purchases, and a system at least somewhat tilted towards encouraging those purchases, Renegade is a full premium game: ten bucks, no ads or IAP. There's also a heavy focus on Career Mode and its science fiction story. You play as a racer who comes back to the sport after two years in jail, looking for revenge against the racer who set you up. The story has a lot to say about robot leagues and AI-powered racers, but since most of your opponents look the same and the story plays out in text-based snippets, it's hard to get too invested in the narrative.
The third entry in the series offers the aforesaid career mode, quick races and challenges, online multiplayer, and (on the SHIELD at least) four-player splitscreen co-op. While the mechanics of the game remain the same from previous entries with only the sci-fi makeover of tracks and vehicles to distinguish it, the difficulty level seems to have been increased by an order of magnitude. You'll need a fully-upgraded jet ski to be competitive in the quick play mode (including splitscreen), and after the first few career mode tracks you might as well give up once you make your first mistake. Premium game or not, it takes quite a bit of grinding even to be ready for the first boss.
Though the riders themselves seem a bit drab, the water physics and stages are elaborate, recalling classics like Hydro Thunder. The price is also pretty reasonable, considering that the PC and console version (which looks identical, save for some extra effects and high-resolution textures) is going for $15.