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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: Microsoft Game Studios
Developed By: Vector Unit
Genre: Racing Action
Players: 1-4 (1-8 online)
Rated: E (Everyone)
Release Date: July 28, 2010
Screenshots: Link
Price: 1200 Points
Written By: Matthew Prunty

August 2, 2010 - When Hydro Thunder first made its videogame console debut on the Sega Dreamcast back in September of 1999, and later being brought to both the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation console, no one had quite understood the possibilities of combining high-speed racing, a dynamic physics system (not so dynamic now) and the use of speed boats on water could do to the racing genre. For the longest time, we as gamers were relegated to cars, planes and karts to satisfy a thirst for speed. Thanks to the house that Mortal Kombat build, we were treated to a whole new experience that ranks up there with some of the greatest racing titles still played today. Fast forward a decade and we see the release of Hydro Thunder Hurricane, The sequel to Hydro Thunder created by Vector Unit in hopes of reintroducing the franchise to a new audience and to give Xbox 360 owners one more reason why that Xbox Live Gold subscription is a thing of beauty.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane is just like its brethren released last generation in the since that not fundamental has really change in the translation from pre-HD era to the HD era. The same addicting racing is here in full swing, this time offering up to 8-players being able to battle it out through Xbox Live. If there is one attribute that Hydro Thunder has ingrained into it Hydro Thunder Hurricane that countless games don’t have is the fact it’s one of those titles that can certainly liven up an afternoon, let alone a gaming session with a bunch of your friends. I’m not sure what it is about this title; however I know that whenever I felt like playing something but couldn’t figure out what, I knew I could always count on Hydro Thunder…now Hydro Thunder Hurricane to put my mind at ease.

Hydro Thunder/Hydro Thunder Hurricane is all about selecting your speed boat and blasting past your opponents via big air jumps and secret shortcuts in order to come out on top once you cross the finish line. While its formula is a bit different from the likes of Mario Kart, they both share the simplicity fundamental which in turn makes the game easy to enjoy. However, with the depth of the immersion factor of games of this generation, simply straight porting the title isn’t enough to satisfy more than just fanatics of the series and this is where Vector Unit stepped in greatly. For those gamers who like to go it alone, there are four different games modes –Race, Ring Master, Gauntlet and Championship-- to choose from. Race is self explanatory, while Ring Master is all about speeding and jumping through rings layout throughout the course as you make your way to the finish line. The further you go through the Ring Master mode, expect the difficulty level to face more challenging levels, which will test your skills like never before.

With Gauntlet, let me just say this…”you haven’t experienced anything until you take a drive through this mode.” Simply put, the Gauntlet mode is like an over the top version of the traditional Time Trials mode. Will speeding through the course, you must keep one eye on the timer, with another on the road as you must dodge exploding barrels within the water. It took several tries before I got the hang of finishing a race before the time ran out, however it’s no easy feat to say the least. Wrapping up the single-player modes is the Championship mode, which is a multi-event experience that will put your skills to the test. Those well versed in Hydro Thunder won’t find it a problem simply jumping strait into this or Gauntlet mode in order to test skills. For newcomers to the series, let alone racing games, I recommend starting out with the Race or Ring Master modes.

Thankfully the guys over at Vector Unit didn't simply port over the visual matrix of the first title and simply improve upon it for Hydro Thunder Hurricane. There have been one too many titles that have gone that route and the end result is something not of beauty. Vector Unit was able to recreate the colourful, fast-paced experience of Hydro Thunder in Hydro Thunder Hurricane, while adding the ability to experience everything in glorious HD. While the visual improvement won’t blow any minds, except maybe your parents, it does show that intense racers can also sport a colourful presentation. There are a few issues with the frame rate dipping; however it’s nothing to chuck a controller over. The in-game soundtrack is still phenomenal as it was within the original title.

When it comes to multiplayer, this is some but not that much. Within Hydro Thunder Hurricane, you have two different modes to choose from –Race and Rubber Ducky—in order to computer with friends, family and complete strangers across the Xbox Live community. Once again, the Race mode is self explanatory as you can race against of players [up to 8] to see who comes out on top. With the Rubber Ducky mode, players are divided into two teams [red and blue] in which one player from each team will be tasked with driving the rubber ducky boat in hopes of making it to the finish line without being defeated by the other team. A nice touch to add to the multiplayer experience is that from the get go, all boats and tracks are unlocked, so you don’t have to worry about playing through the single-player experience [for those online junkies] in order to have your pick of the litter.

While Hydro Thunder wasn’t the most in-depth racing experience that was on consoles at the time, it still provided countless hours of fun and challenges as you tried to do everything possible in the game without getting a reward {achievement] in the process. With Hydro Thunder Hurricane, Vector Unit was able to adapt a game designed for offline gaming for an immersive online community and did so while also adding additional content that is worthy of bearing the Hydro Thunder name. For those who haven’t already picked up this title, I recommend you do so a.s.a.p.


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