Giant Bomb Review

41 Comments

Hydro Thunder Hurricane Review

4
  • XBGS

Look past the dull single-player modes and get online if you want to have a great time racing boats.


 You'll get out of the water... a lot.
Hydro Thunder's style of drift-heavy powerboat racing translates pretty well to Xbox Live Arcade in Hydro Thunder Hurricane. Hurricane's not quite a sequel, since it's developed by an entirely new crew, but it's a faithful update to the Hydro Thunder mechanics. With pretty good online play for up to eight racers and eight tracks to choose from, Hurricane's racing is a lot of fun.

Racing in Hydro Thunder Hurricane is all about learning the tracks to figure out where the best shortcuts are and collecting canisters of boost that keep you moving fast. You typically don't get much boost from one item, though, so you're sort of always on the hunt for more. All the while, you're racing against other boats that are trying to do the same thing, which usually means you're bumping each other out of the way at all times. It also means that everyone who wants to win is using one of the three expert class boats, which are faster than all the rest. Maybe the online would have benefitted from a class-lock option to force everyone into similarly built vehicles, but as long as you don't mind seeing six of the eight players in your race piloting "Rad Hazard" every single time, it's not a big deal. However, it does mean that you'll need to learn the tracks offline before you even think about winning an online race in the squirrelly expert boats.

 From realistic-looking spots like this one to Area 51, you'll experience a variety of locations across the eight tracks.
Offline, you can race against artificially intelligent boats on those same eight tracks. Racing the AI isn't nearly as exciting as squaring off against real people, since the AI boats aren't especially aggressive. You just start at the back of a pack of 16 and need to work your way to the front before the race ends. There are also extra events that put you on the water by yourself and have to race through rings or avoid exploding barrels for online leaderboard times. Lastly, there's a championship mode that puts all of the single-player events together in multi-race chunks. I found the ring master and barrel-dodging gauntlet events to be extremely boring. Offline, you'll need to grind out credits to unlock boats, tracks, and events. Online, everything except the different skins for your boats are available immediately, so the unlock progression is a little needless. That said, it's weak that you have to place in the top three spots to earn any credits at all online. If the rise of persistent first-person shooting has taught us anything, it's that you should probably progress a little bit just for putting in the time.

Visually, Hydro Thunder Hurricane approximates the look of the original game. It's bright and colorful, the waves whip around, and there are lots of things going on in the background, like stealth bombers taking off or a giant viking doing... whatever it is that giant vikings do when they see a tiny boat race.

While I found most of the single-player modes to be a bit of a drag and the way things get unlocked for single-player could have been handled a bit more smoothly, the online multiplayer is what earns Hydro Thunder Hurricane its keep. It's a fast-moving and thrilling online race that offers just enough content to fit with its downloadable-sized pricing. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
41 Comments
Edited by FreakAche

I loved the Dreamcast one, but I'm still debating if this one is worth it.
 
EDIT: First! (Sorry, I just had to say it)

Posted by JayCee

Boats!

Posted by Seppli

From what I've seen of it... not enough waves.

Posted by tds418

I agree with this review pretty much 100%. I've put at least half a dozen hours into the multiplayer and have barely touched the single player. It's a great game though, definitely worth a purchase.

Posted by Cold_Wolven

The only reason I'd get this game is so I had all 5 summer of arcade titles and get the bonus 1200 points. Then again I'd be wasting points by buying this game so what's the point?
Posted by Diamond

Good review Jeff.  Very true about Rad Hazard-only play.  The thing that has me coming back to the single player is the leaderboards.  I've lost a lot of my top positions, but I'm still in the top 10 on every track (I believe).
 
My review if anyone's interested.

Posted by Icil

Wish you had a sentence with the price in there, but I had to go and click a whole 'nother link to find out the price. 
 
I don't think I'll go for 15 on this one. I bought Worms for 10, and I feel too gypped by XBLA purchases at the moment to go 10 or 15 in the near future.

Posted by hagridore
Kinda surprised by your reaction to it, Jeff. I found it slow paced, with the boost not helping at all. Visually, it can get bad (causing steering straight into walls like in the QL.) And the constant beeping and "hey, boost brah!"
Posted by TheLawnWrangler

awesome! I was a big fan of the arcade game, so this is great news that this is better than 3 stars!

Posted by RoyCampbell

Such a rad, gnarly, tubular, and awesome game. Hydro Thunder forevs.

Posted by Sil3n7

Clearly viking was the word that needed to be linked.

Posted by MetalBaofu

Nice....I kinda liked what I played from the demo.  I would be tempted to pick it up if I had a bunch of people to play with locally(which I don't), or if I didn't think the online would be dead in a month or so(like with most XBLA games).

Posted by Kraivyne

I really enjoyed HTH, especially the water physics. Would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun arcadey game to play online.

Posted by teh_destroyer

I like the online, it would be cool to have a Thursday Night Throwdown on this :).

Posted by granderojo

I like how a lot of reviewers pumped out reviews having never played this multiplayer, which seems like a huge disservice to the game.

Posted by ImperiousRix

Definitely want this.  I love me some Hydro Thunder whenever I head to the arcade, and I love these enhanced remakes.  Gotta head to the store for some MS Points!

Posted by WorldDude

"You'll get out of the water... a lot."
 I wonder if this is some kind of reference to LordKaT's ThatGuyWithTheGlasses.com series, Until We Win. I can't be the only one who thought of that when they read it.
 
Anyway, great review! Still need to download the trial myself.

Posted by Willy105

Sounds great!

Posted by DG991

Great review jeff, I also enjoyed the quick look.  

Posted by TripMasterMunky
@FreakAche said:
" I loved the Dreamcast one, but I'm still debating if this one is worth it.  EDIT: First! (Sorry, I just had to say it) "
I'm not sure what's more annoying; people saying "First!" or people apologizing about saying first, and then continuing to do so.
Posted by tactis

Game is pretty good mostly bought it to have more 4 player split screen games when my friends come over good stuff.

Posted by fox01313

Liking the game though I think that the hidden packages somewhat take away from the fun of the game. Unlockable skins is a good thing but the way that you have to ignore the race at times to get to some of them, some of the early ones I found were pretty much only attainable by backtracking. Less hidden packages on the shortcuts would have been good, agreed with Jeff on the gauntlet/ring events being less fun than core of the game (racing). Now I just need to find beer wench who will sit nearby with a water spray bottle when playing this to make the racing more immersive with occasional water spray. 

Posted by harris

Nice review, maybe I'll pick this up when I need a break from SC2.

Posted by Shaunage

I had a Dreamcast but never played the original. Maybe I was missing out.

Online
Posted by ChaChaTrevor

Crazy fun game. The track environments are a blast. I gotta disagree with Jeff, the single player is not that boring.  The gauntlet mode can be challenging at times.

Posted by nickux

This game seems to be somewhat divisive amongst reviewers. Arthur of Rebel FM didn't seem to like it so much but to each his own. As someone who never played the original I'm not sure if the nostalgia-factor would sway me on this one. Either way, a very good review by Jeff.

Posted by Dig_Douglas_III

This game brings back some fond memories.
 
Its worth it for the nostalgic effect.

Posted by Bluethunder35

Seems like the game is getting strong review scores everywhere except at "that site". Still, $15 is too much at this time. I will buy this when it goes on sale, though. I want to wait until I see what the other $15 games arriving this month are like.

Posted by positron

Higher than I expected.

Posted by fedorajay

I'm loving the demo but $15 is a bit too high for the budget I'm on right now. Give it a couple months and I'll probably pick this up. I hope the online community will stay strong but I have my doubts.

Posted by haggis

I guess I was hoping for a better single-player experience. Oh well.

Posted by Allison

This is making me want to hit a Boomers or Dave & Busters and sit behind a grungy Hydro Thunder machine and have my head blown.

Posted by hedfone

cool

Posted by Nettacki

Hydro Thunder, eh? Maybe I'll get it if it goes down in price...

Posted by soroxas94

love this game

Posted by dunderri

This game is very addicting, even in the single-player modes.

Posted by henrik_zwomp

I did not think this game would get 4 stars. Looked boring in the Quick look.

Posted by RetroMetal

I love this game.  It's probably my favorite XBLA games in years.

Online
Posted by BroMagnon

Makes me want to dust off my  Dreamcast...
Posted by SharkMan

wish it was cheaper, but finally a samescreen multiplayer racing game on xblm.