Hydro Thunder Hurricane Review (Xbox 360)
It has been 11 years since Hydro Thunder graced us with its presence. Now with HT Hurricane available on XBLA, the speedboats are ready to make their dramatic return to stardom…err…mediocrity. Yup, I said it. The once proud title of Hydro Thunder has fallen into mediocrity (not to mention repetitiveness) and possibly even further. If you want to do the same thing over and over again, flail your boat across the screen and explode on random barrels of TNT then this game is for you.
Hurricane? More Like a Wind Chill
The gameplay of HTH seems the same as the original, but somehow it feels like the game is not up to par. The game, for lack of a better word, is stale. Sure, the game can be fun for the first few races because of the arcade-like and nostalgic feel it gives out, but after 20 or 30 races boredom will become the kingdom of your console.
One of my main gripes with the game is the controls. The HT developers prided themselves on the boat ratings, which included the vehicle’s handling. Each boat had a different ranking for control, so some were easier to use than others. But with Hurricane the developers take the handling to another level. Each boat jumps from one end of the screen to the other, crashing on waves and nose diving next to cliffs. Very rarely will you complete an event without experiencing something annoying with the handling.
The HTH crew does attempt to cover up the mediocrity of this game with four different game modes. I like to call them feeble attempts at variety: Race, Ring Master, Gauntlet and Championship.
- Race is, uh, a race.
- Ring Master brings you into a whole new world; that world is one with rings that you get to drive through. Sweet, right? Wrong. You miss a ring, you're docked one second.
- The next mode is by far the worst: Gauntlet. Gauntlet places TNT barrels across your map. If you hit a barrel, you will explode, which sets you back a couple seconds that could be the difference between earning a medal and not.
- Finally, Championship takes center stage. Championship combines two of the three previously mentioned game modes. Each event is worth so many points, and after two events your tally is added up to see if you have made the cut.
Hold the Reality, Please
The presentation in HTH reminds me of the original HT. It looks the same, it feels the same, and it is the same. The graphics are slightly enhanced from the Dreamcast version just because of the technology now and then. The boats don’t seem to have any glaring characteristics that stick out; they are boring and matte.
The biggest problem with the presentation in HTH would be the water. When racing in a storm, the water will constantly rise quickly, causing your boat to go out of control unless you time a boost jump just right. It sounds like a great idea having the water be so dynamic, but the water is a solid color. It blocks any and all view of the map, causing you to either go off course, miss a ring or crash into some TNT. I think this may be an attempt at realism, but this is an arcade game. Arcade games are supposed to throw reality out of the boat.
Online play is the bright spot. The player traffic is consistent enough to play as often as you want, and the servers are some of the best I’ve played on. In addition, for the most part the users are very skilled and friendly. All in all the online is one of the better parts of the game.
I hate to say this, but this game was a huge disappointment. When it was first announced, I was the first in line to pick this up after spending countless hours on the original. But maybe I grew up and the game does not appeal to me anymore, or maybe the game really did take a huge step back. Without any depth and replayability, this game is going to do nothing but sit on my hard drive with plenty of Achievement points still yet be earned.
In the Water: Handling is a weak and frustrating point to a very bare game.
Visuals: Under par, even for an XBLA title.
Audio: Nothing special, but it is reminiscent of the original. Props.
Entertainment Value: I’d rather dig out my Dreamcast and play the original.
Learning Curve: It’s a quick learn.
Online Play: Probably the best part about the game thanks to the servers and users.
Score: 4.0 (Bad)