Hydro Thunder Hurricane
Posted 2 years ago By - Mark Melnychuk
Right now gamers are enjoying the sweltering line up of Xbox Live’s annual Summer of Arcade. This means plenty of days spent indoors, as well as some heated competition between the games themselves. Hydro Thunder Hurricane, a remake/sequel to Midway’s arcade classic, is one of those competitors. While it is a proficient water racer, there may not be enough here to save Hydro Thunder from slipping beneath the wake of some of the other sweltering titles released during XBLA’s summer event.
For those not familiar with the franchise, Hydro Thunder is all about racing boats with engines that transform into massive outboard motors, allowing racers to speed boost past their opponents. Boosting is earned by collecting red and blue icons hovering above the water, and is essential if you’re considering a first place finish. It’s not a combat racer per se, however the game is plenty treacherous since boats can explode if they hit an obstacle with enough force. Thanks to a variety of hazards scattered around the intense tracks, the racing is a glorious arcade-fueled blast.
The boats are divided up into Novice, Pro and Expert classes. Higher class boats will have much stronger performance, but they’ll also take more skill to maneuver. The strategy behind using each boat also varies, as some hug the water more while others can take corners at a sharper angle.
Other highlights of Hydro Thunder Hurricane are the tracks themselves, which are brimming with all sorts of insanity. A total of eight are in the game, ranging from ancient Babylonian cities to Area 51 itself. Plenty of ramps and secret shortcuts are packed into each track, which are enhanced by crazily scripted moments such as driving under a Viking god smashing ice cliffs or being teleported to an alien world. If anything, Hydro Thunder Hurricane marks a fabulous return to a time when games didn’t take themselves so seriously.
Naturally, all these awesome boats and locations have to be earned by gaining credits, and this is where Hydro Thunder’s gameplay starts to feel like a chore. Credits can be earned by placing at least third in regular races, but players will also have to enter the salt mines and slave away for more points in less interesting modes such as Ring Master and Gauntlet. These timed runs through the same tracks get boring fast.
Luckily, it`s possible to win credits when competing in online multiplayer with up to seven other players. A full room of aggressive live opponents makes for some chaotic matches. Sadly, it’s hindered by a lack of modes, with just one other game type besides the standard race routine.
Hydro Thunder wouldn`t pass visually for a full retail release, but as an XBLA game it looks pretty good. The water effects are top notch, and the transforming engines make for a variety of boats that are so over-the-top they almost resemble space ships.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane shines with its crazy core racing mechanic, but falls short because of a repetitive single player component and meagre list multiplayer options. Paying $15 for what is essentially a throwback title also seems a little steep, given that the game`s design doesn`t push the series much further from where it started in 1999. That aside, it still plays well. I`d recommend Hydro Thunder Hurricane for any diehard fan of the franchise, or someone looking for a fun racing game to play with friends. Meanwhile, those yearning to spend their money on the newest experiences XBLA has to offer might have some better choices.
+ Tracks are original and creative
- Not enough gameplay options in multiplayer
- Doesn’t really break any new ground for the series
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Release Date : 2010/07/28
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Microsoft Game Studios
Developer : Vector Unit
Category : Arcade
ESRB : E
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