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Hydro Thunder Hurricane Review

See PixlBit's Review Policies

On 08/20/2010 at 09:09 AM by Nick DiMola

Hydro Thunder's return is a glorious one.

For arcade racer fans who loved the original version and love to perfect their run times and scores.

It's somewhat astounding, but it has been longer than I can even remember since I have had the opportunity to sit down with a solid arcade racing title. Hydro Thunder Hurricane has allowed me to fondly recall a time when the only thing players need to concern themselves with is finishing the race in first place. It's almost liberating to not have to worry about anything else, especially after playing so many titles that make players worry about so much more.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane is the follow-up to the classic arcade title, Hydro Thunder, a game in which players navigated super-powered speedboats through exotic tracks complete with shortcuts and boosts around every turn. Hurricane is no deviation from the original formula, players are simply treated to a new set of boats, tracks, and goals, as well as some more impressive visuals and water effects.

The game is comprised of a few different modes, all of which task players with either coming in first place amongst a group of 16 racers or making it through a succession of rings in the fastest time possible. As players clear races and challenges, they are awarded credits which unlock a variety of things in the game, from races to boats, across each of the modes. Even after players complete any of the challenges, they can be replayed to earn more credits, essentially allowing even the less experienced player to unlock all eight of the unbelievably unique and interesting courses in the game.

In addition to these single player modes, players have two great options for multiplayer. Local four player multiplayer has been included, something that we rarely see this generation, as well as your typical eight player online multiplayer. Both offer players a great way to enjoy the game with friends, either through Xbox Live or on your living room couch. Leaderboards are also offered, allowing players to see how they stack up in the world and against their friends.

All of these constructs merely provide players a way to get in a boat and race, and this aspect of Hydro Thunder Hurricane is simply unquestionably spectacular. The high speed races, while simple in their goal structure, are quite complex in navigating the track in the fastest way possible.

While racing through any of the tracks in the game, players must keep a sharp eye for possible shortcuts, and the shortcuts are plenty. Some provide huge gains while others might actually slow you down. In passing through these shortcuts, players will also want to take note of which ones contain boost pick-ups, and understand how those might enable them to reach a different more difficult to reach shortcut up ahead.

As you might imagine, some serious thought was put into the design and creation of each track. While the game only features eight unique tracks, after many playthroughs, it's likely that players will still be finding new paths in the levels. Furthermore, all of the tracks are extremely interesting and themed around a singular concept. All of the levels have moving parts and these have an effect on both the race and how players pilot the waters.

Everything that moves in the water will affect the wave structure, which in turn modifies how players steer through the level, and in some instances might cause a path deviation unexpectedly. As such, it becomes critical for players to get a good feel for their boat and exactly what it's capable of doing. This adds a whole new layer of complexity to the equation that is almost entirely transparent to the player. As players make their way through the various courses and modes, they will figure out which boats they like the most, and which are suited best for a given level.

The inherent goal of any race is to obtain a gold trophy, but Hurricane subtly provides a secondary goal to all players after they have made it through a challenge once; beat your friends. During each race, the HUD will tell you at each checkpoint in the level how far behind or ahead of one of your friends you are. For me this created some weird alternative challenge, that pushed me to not only win the race, but to also find the fastest route to beat my challenger. Thankfully, even after overtaking a friend's time, the game flashes some other faceless Xbox Live challenger to overtake in the leaderboards. This simple concept had me trying to find perfect route and race the perfect race to claim top dog on the leaderboards, which is not something I often find myself doing.

Part of Hurricane's success is the simple goal with a complex track, as well as the typically short race times. In a matter of just a few minutes, players will rip through an entire race and be ready for the next one. With a low barrier of entry, players can hop on at any time and try and race through a track faster than they have before. If not that, players can simply traverse the tracks looking for spinning tokens that are scattered throughout the levels. I'm not quite sure of their purpose, but they are still fun to find and collect.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane has provided a great step back in time to the arcade glory days. Thankfully the whole world has the opportunity to play, so the leaderboards that were once localized to a single machine are now spread out to all who play the game. Players who enjoy racing games with a simple purpose and a high level of replayability will find themselves enjoying the fast-paced, addictive qualities of Hydro Thunder Hurricane. If you don't see yourself pushing through tracks multiple times to achieve the highest score possible, Hurricane might have some seriously limited appeal, but your first run through should still be a blast.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Our Take

Nick DiMola Director

08/20/2010 at 09:22 AM

For me personally, this game is a 4.5/5, but due to the extremely limited appeal and the wording of our review policy, this game fits snuggly in the 4 star rating.

The bottom line is that this game is an absolute blast if you enjoy arcade racing games based on perfecting your runs. I'm itching to play the game right now as a matter of fact.


08/22/2010 at 11:23 AM

To the reviewer, I think it`s terrible that you`re not posting this as a 4.5/5 score even when you admited that the game deserves it.

You never know which games appeal to a specific person, since no game really appeals to everyone. I think that a reviewer should not intentionally reduce a score just because it has supposedly limited appeal, since that is just assinine.

A review should be solely based on the reviewer`s overall experience and not some baseless opinion whether or not the game potentially will appeal to many people.

Nick DiMola Director

08/22/2010 at 07:50 PM

While I understand your point, that flies in the face of the review policy set in place. The bottom line is that the game does, and will have, limited appeal for the majority of people who play the game. Simply because I can overlook the repetitious nature of the game, doesn't make it any better.

Part of my job as a reviewer is to have enough insight to know when I'm overlooking a flaw due to my own biases. The game has a very limited number of tracks with little to do aside from racing to the finish. That's a massive issue for all players who don't enjoy an extremely one-dimensional experience.

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