Hydro Thunder Hurricane: Tempest Pack DLC: review

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  • Format: XBLA
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
  • Developer: Vector Unit
  • Players: 1-4 (offline), 2-8 (online)
  • Site: http://www.xbox.com/

Hydro Thunder Hurricane wasn’t quite the retro revival fans had hoped for, and the Tempest Pack DLC doesn’t mess with the formula. This set of three new tracks and two new boats isn’t going to change anyone’s mind but taken on its own merits, it offers some of the biggest thrills in the game.

The pack includes new events for the new tracks in singleplayer, including standard races, ring master challenges, gauntlets, and championships. Along with those events there’s two brand new boats, and expert class versions of the novice and intermediate class boats. These must be unlocked, requiring a staggering 200,000 point milestone in order to get them all.

Thankfully, if singleplayer isn’t your thing, these new tracks can be tackled online and points can be earned towards new boats there. Vector Unit cleverly included the tracks in a free update for multiplayer, so there’s no worries of splintering the online population.

PhotobucketThe first of the three new tracks takes place in the lost city of Atlantis. It features three quick laps filled with dynamic elements. There’s a good flow to the track and the ever-changing shortcuts are fun to nail, but ultimately it’s probably the weakest of the three. There just isn’t much separating it from the game’s original selection of maps.

Castle Von Boom, the second track, is much more interesting. Here the arcade-y gimmicks are in full swing, and the bombastic nature of this track makes it one of the most faithful to the original Hydro Thunder. You’re essentially racing three laps through a repeating figure-8 with shortcuts, as well as jumps and exploding barrels in your way. But if that wasn’t enough, the track also loops back on itself, forcing racers to drive back through the same course again, and straight at the boats racing in the other direction. The resulting madness has you ducking and weaving between rival boats, exploding barrels, and player-activated cannon balls.

The last of the three tracks is also the best. Bermuda Triangle takes you to that infamous danger zone, envisioning it as a swirling vortex that teleports you into an abstract world of floating islands. The action is insane, with the opening third of the race sending you barreling toward the aforementioned Triangle, over waves, and around a spiraling oil rig. From there you’re launched into the vortex where you bound from one suspended lake to the next until you come out the other side. Upon return to reality, two giant ships fall from the sky and you ride the resulting waves to victory.

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The content of the Tempest Pack is relatively excellent – you just have to consider how much you enjoy Hydro Thunder Hurricane to begin with. The problems still persist – issues like overly punitive physics, poor framerate, and ugly graphics still sour the experience even here. Play online and you’re met with the same annoying variable boost that makes racing at the front of the pack an unrewarding chore. The game is still what it is, but if you don’t mind it, the Tempest Pack is a must-have.

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Written by Joe D

Inspired by a love for obscure Sega Saturn games in the 90s, Joe is pretty much open to anything gaming has to offer. What he looks for in a game: creativity and strong design, or sometimes just an overwhelming sense of style.

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