Its the late nineties; arcade machines littered restaurant aisles like the Octo-Mom has random children. The pure classics- like Crazy Taxi, Pac-Man, Daytona USA, and the one that seemed to be in every American eatery and shopping center, Hydro Thunder. From its roots in seat style arcades to down-loadable title on XBL, I’ll be giving you the splash (pun intended) on its latest installment, Hydro Thunder Hurricane from developer Vector Unit.
The download took only a minute or two, and a small update is necessary to start the action. Word to the wise to those who enjoy online multiplayer, download the free content so you can play all the tracks, including extra DLC content. Just note that you cannot host a multiplayer game on the DLC tracks, but you can play them from another host. As Budz McGee and myself loaded up a multiplayer race, I found it difficult to party up and join a race together, but with a little bit of patience and persistence we were finally matched into a lobby. Right out of the box and in the thick of racing most who are familiar with the genre will have a leg up on the competition, the natural reaction of using the trigger/gas left stick/steer will be right at home. Like any other racing game, it takes time to be able to find what boat works for you. With that, this is where I figure I’d get the most annoying and frustrating part of HTH out of the way. Most of you will find as you progress through the game or multiplayer you will unlock faster and more agile boats. Once you unlock “Cutthroat,” the game pretty much ends in my eyes. You don’t even need to seek out the coveted turbo boosts, or secret track short cuts to win. The challenge and excitement of head to head boat racing is left in the wake of this beast. With modes like racing, gauntlet, and championship single player modes, the replay-ability of all 8 tracks is constant with XBL leader boards, showing friends’ top times.
The tracks are per-norm for the Hydro Thunder name, like Area 51, the canals of Paris, South-American Jungles, and my personal favorite Lake Powell. All it was missing was co-eds and camera crews from Girls Gone Wild (watch out for kegs in the water, seriously.) Each track will have its own little ambient and landscape effects, some small like a fishing boat trying to run you off the track to a giant Nordic god attempting to smash your skiff with a monstrous hammer. Most complain about the “water effects look like they are straight out of wave race 64.” This is where I remind the hecklers that this is an XBLA title, with the whole game around 450Mb. I find myself indifferent on the quality of the graphics, but more of a stickler on physics. The speedometer claims your doing ‘300’mph, but I feel that I’ve gone faster on my little cousin’s Barbie Power Wheels off a loading dock. Another thorn in my side is when you draft other boats or that snobby french police boat, they emulate the effect with “speed lines” that you would see in a cheesy cartoon like Speed Racer. On the good side, the game is quite forgiving with slamming into walls, other boats, and the occasional landscape obstacle, so those who aren’t racing savvy will still be able to hack it with the pros.
All in all HTH is a decent title with it being on sale on the XBL marketplace, and it actually has a decent amount of content and gamers online which really caps off the value of this game. If your not a fan of the classic arcade racers I suggest looking elsewhere for your next fix.
Played On: Xbox 360
Approximate completion time: 7 hours
Gamer Score Earned: 95/200g
Price Bought At: 400msp
Recommended price: 800msp, but a steal at 400msp