HYDROOO THUNDERR!! That hyper-loud voice should be familiar with anyone who was a fan of the original Hydro Thunder game, part of Midway’s series of “Thunder” racing games. Well after 10 years from its first release, the sequel is out from a company called Vector Unit who brings back the insane boat racing action in the form of Hydro Thunder Hurricane. The game is available on Xbox Live Arcade for 1200 Microsoft Points and the thrills of the adrenaline packed racing series with crazy transforming boats comes back with a new look. But can it hold up to its predecessor? Hit the jump to read the rest of the review.
For fans of the original arcade game, Hydro Thunder Hurricane screams of its late 90s prequel in both looks and style, which may confuse some at first if they don’t understand that this is a sequel. For one, the boats are all the same, from Damn the Torpedoes to Rad Hazard, but have a new look to them, re-designed and upgraded from their earlier forms. The levels take on the same approach, with design and name changes, but still adhering to the original track style. At first glance to many this could look like an HD remake of the classic but in fact it is a new game in the series.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane separates itself by bringing a slew of new features to the original game. While the original Hydro Thunder was a racing only game, Hurricane allows players to experience more than just racing NPCs. There are 4 game modes in single player: Racing, Ring Master, Gauntlet and Championship. Racing is just like the classic gameplay of a 16-player race for the finish. Ring Master consists of a checkpoint style racing game where your objective is to hit all the rings and beat a set time. Gauntlet puts you against the clock on each level while racing through water infested with exploding barrels. Championship is a mix of game modes and tracks. Multiplayer is also included in this version of the game and will be covered later in the review.
The racing mode consists of boats tearing through 8 tracks with a choice of 9 boats, ranging from novice to expert, that take you from the canyon river of Lake Powell to the secret confines of Area 51. The game plays out just like its predecessor with over the top tracks that are out of this world. Huge courses strewn with blue and red boost medals make up the majority of the gameplay as you race against the computer.
Multiplayer adds a whole new dimension to the game with the same great ability you could enjoy at the arcade when they had multiple machines hooked up at once. Racing through the same courses as single player you are pitted up against 1-7 other opponents in what can be an 8 player boost brawl for the finish. With the inclusion of a rubber ducky multiplayer-only boat and rubber ducky game type, online play offers the great fun of single player but with more competition.
If I can say anything about Hydro Thunder Hurricane online it would be this: No matter how good you think you are at a game, there is someone out there that is better. With online players posting some crazy times and mad skills with the boats you are sure to have a great time if you like racing competitively and testing your skill. Both local and online multiplayer are options that allow this game to stretch further.
With 15 achievements and extra boat skins to unlock, Hydro Thunder Hurricane can keep you busy for a while. But if you happen to want even more content, there is already DLC out for the game. The “Tempest” DLC adds 3 new levels and 2 new boats, plus extra skins for your current boats. The DLC does come with one drawback: it’s pretty much required for online multiplayer. Even with the free version that allows you to race with people owning the DLC you still will have to sit out if your lobby decides to race on one of the 3 new tracks. To be able to play the new tracks you will need to purchase the DLC on Xbox Live for 400 Microsoft Points. Overall the DLC is worth it if you want to experience more crazy tracks and experience multiplayer to its fullest. If online isn’t really your thing you can skip the DLC, but don’t expect to get all the achievements, as getting 100% out of this game practically requires you to download the expansion.
Overall I give props (no pun intended) to Vector Unit for producing a great sequel. I would recommend picking this game up to anyone who was a fan of the series. Though not too original in its content overall, the developers leave you with new content following the old feel of the original. A fun racing game that’s family friendly and should please anyone. Overall I give Hydro Thunder Hurricane a B on the GamerSushi grading scale. Have any of you picked this up on Live? What are your thoughts?
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