|Hydro Thunder: Hurricane|
|Developer: Vector Unit
Price: 1200 MS points
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-4 split-screen, 2-8 online
Hydro Thunder: Hurricane (HTH) is the latest in a growing catalogue of quality Xbox Live Arcade games, and is the perfect antidote to a bad day at work, or a bad session on a car sim-racer that expects you to do 10 laps around a boring course in a boring car, and then do it all over again the other way round or in a slightly different car. It plays a lot like but looks a heck of a lot better than I remember the original PlayStation, N64 or Dreamcast games looking. Zooming along long and varied courses in a high-powered powerboat should, of course, be exciting, and thanks to smooth, colourful graphics, lively physics and a trillion gallons of virtual water HTH is rarely less than that, and just about every lap of a track will feel different.
Apart from single races there are Ring Master (pass through as many rings as possible as you race around the circuit), Gauntlet (try and get to the end of the track without hitting the floating hazards, exploding barrels or collapsing scenery) or championship modes. There are 8 stylized and themed tracks, the weirdest of which is Area 51 which starts off at the Nevada airbase before transporting you to an alien planet and back during a circuit! Successful races earn you new boats, new tracks and new race modes while new boat skins can be unlocked by finding the 10 secret packages on each track. Each track/event can be played on three difficulty settings (Novice, Pro & Expert) — you can get by with just slick driving to win most Novice events but Pro means you need to learn the shortcuts and pick up most of the boost bonuses along the way.
HTH plays like a throwback to the high-adrenalin arcade games that we all used to pump coins into years ago before home consoles had the power to reproduce convincing and spectacular visuals. It’s simple to play but very hard to master, and cool (well, wet anyway) and fast enough that if you whack some dance music on (the in-game music is mostly dire) then it could even be your 360’s answer to WipeOut.
- Fast & smooth.
- 4-player split-screen.
- Competitive and playable online racing.
- Maybe gets too hard too soon.
- The scenery won’t make you want to go sight-seeing.
- A replay mode would have been nice.