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HYDRO THUNDER HURRICANE PREVIEW TIME!

2:00 PM on 05.28.2010 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
  @CTZ

OH YEAH! IT'S HYDRO THUNDER HURRICANE, BABY! WHY AM I YELLING?! BECAUSE THAT'S HOW YOU TALK ABOUT RETRO ARCADE RACERS. YOU HAVE TO YELL! BOOM!!!

The beloved boat racing series has been brought back by the very small development team at Vector Unit, and stays true to the roots of franchise. Everything is built from the ground up, yet Hurricane maintains the over the top, kick-you-in-the-face attitude feel of old school arcade racers. For your youngins, just think Burnout, but on water.

Boost past the jump for a look at all that Hydro Thunder Hurricane has to offer.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane (XBLA)
Developer: Vector Unit
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
To be released: 2010

There are four events on offer in Hurricane's single-player mode:

  • Race mode: Standard race mode against 15 AI players.
  • Ring Master: Race through rings littered throughout the level. The size of the rings and challenges differ based on the difficulty settings.
  • Gauntlet: Fills the course with a ton of explosive barrels.
  • Championship: A mixture of everything.

The eight available tracks are full of life to the point that it's almost easy to get distracted by everything that's going on. Levels offer multiple paths, various hazards, and some courses will even introduce fresh obstacles with each lap. The first couple of stages are pretty innocent, but later levels up the insanity meter -- one course sees you briefly traveling to an alien world!

Every course is littered with power boosts, which are your best bets to winning races. White/blue boosts are the standard, with red boosts offering more fuel, but are placed infrequently throughout races. Players can also find green pick-ups that will trigger ramps or open up shortcuts.

The beginning of a match can be pretty tricky. The first boost is important, so boats will be plowing into each other as they scramble. Even if a player is maintaining a steady lead though, one simple mistake can put them behind, so it's always anyone's game.

Hurricane will feature boats from the past, such as Razorback and Rad Hazard, and each of the rides have different stats for speed and handling. There are three classes of boats -- novice, pro, expert -- and you'll even hear "You're crazy!" when selecting an expert level boat. Different skins can be applied to boats as well.

Arcade games like this were all about multiplayer and that's where you'll find the most fun here. Up to four players can play together through split screen, and eight can race against each other online. All levels and boats are on offer, with the addition of a giant drivable rubber ducky only in multiplayer -- quacking noises and all.

Every race will earn you points that go to gaining trophies and unlocking a slew of items; new boats, tracks, and even Avatar Awards are all obtainable. Expect more items in future DLC packs too. On top of all this, there are also leaderboards in place giving extra incentive for players to keep the best scores.

What more is there to say? This feels and plays like Hydro Thunder of the past, just better in every way possible. You'd be stupid to pass this one up when it's released later this year.

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