For a few years now, the Xbox 360 Summer of Arcade program brings us five weeks of awesome games that can range from unknown, yet highly anticipated titles to sequels of games that truly deserve them. So far this year we have had both with Limbo (the highly anticipated unknown) and, with this week’s Hydro Thunder Hurricane, we finally get a sequel to the arcade hit.
Some of my fondest memories of going to the arcade when I was a kid were when I played Hydro Thunder. There was just something about the game that kept pulling me in and I kept answering that call. This was unheard of for me because I really can’t stand racing games. But for some reason that I still can’t put my finger on, I kept playing it. I think the big part of it was the arcade units had a fan that blew on you as you were racing to simulate the feel as though you were racing at high speeds through the water. For a kid, that was awesome. It totally immersed me in the game. Other than that, I think the biggest draw was the simplistic, yet fun, gameplay.
Hydro Thunder Hurricane brings that simplistic gameplay to the 360 and is just as fun as the original. Not much has changed from the original as far as core concepts are concerned. The premise is the same: pick a boat and boost your way through choppy waters and huge jumps to the finish line. But Hurricane brings a few new modes that will keep you racing for a long time.
If you are a loner and just want to play single player, you have a good amount of options. You can choose Race which is self-explanatory, Ring Master which has you weaving and jumping through increasingly challenging slalom courses and if you chain together multiple gates, you earn boost. For the most part, I had a lot of fun playing this mode but I didn’t lie when I said that the courses get challenging. Playing through the courses towards the end took a lot of patience and self-control to not break something.
Then there’s Gauntlet. To put it simply, this is extreme time trial. Not only do you have to worry about the clock but there are exploding barrels you have to watch out for. Needless to say, after a couple of tries with this mode, I had to walk away. Timed anything isn’t my cup of tea so I could have done without this mode. Finally there is Championship Mode which is multi-event and is pretty tough. For all you perfectionists out there, each of these modes have different amount of trophies you can win so if you want to try to get them all, go for it-but only if you have enough patience. Later tracks get very hard.
In the multiplayer mode, there aren’t as many different modes. In fact there are only two: race and Rubber Ducky. Again, Race is self-explanatory. In Rubber Ducky, players divide into red and blue teams each team then selects one player to drive the Rubber Ducky boat and then does everything in its power to get its duck across the finish line first. Even though there are only two modes, every boat and track are unlocked and ready for you to race unlike in the single player modes where you have to earn them.
The controls are simple and straight-forward. If you have ever played a racing game on the 360 you will have no problems with the controls. Each boat of course will have different degrees of difficulty depending on its handling. If you choose a boat with low handling, you will most likely be all over the waters. If you choose one with high handling, you will be taking turns like a pro.
Everything I loved about Hydro Thunder has returned with Hurricane and more. The fun and addicting gameplay, the huge selection of boats and courses, and the speed all make for a great day of racing. Throw in some new single player and multiplayer modes, Hydro Thunder Hurricane will keep you racing until your fingers fall off.
Review copy provided by publisher.