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'Limbo' stuck in the middle / Hydro Thunder Hurricane

Nov 5, 2010

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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LimboIt's happened dozens, if not hundreds of times before: someone tells you about a game that looks amazing, has rock-solid mechanics, and is downright fun as hell to play, but has no multiplayer and only takes about four or five hours to complete. Therefore, the reasoning goes, it's barely worth more than a rental.

We've got news for you, folks - some games simply can't be judged solely on hours played. Limbo, an Xbox Live Arcade exclusive, is a perfect example of that.

Though you'll still need to bring your gaming skills to the table while playing it, traversing Limbo is more about the experience than anything else. It's a game that has a haunting atmosphere that doesn't rely on cheap scares, overdramatic one-liners or a swelling score.

In fact, it's as minimalist a game as they come. There is no voice acting in Limbo, no narration, almost no music, and no colour. The game is completely in black and white, which adds wonderfully to the atmosphere. You play the game as an unnamed little boy who is stuck in limbo and is trying to find his sister.

LimboThere's nothing complicated about the gameplay itself. You move left or right and climb with the left analog stick, jump with the A-button, and grab things with the X- or B-Button. Using these limited controls, you'll have to make your way through Limbo while avoiding traps.

These traps come at a near constant pace and dying happens early and often. Simply jumping too far down a vertical drop will result in the boy's life coming to an end. This game is chalk full of trial-and-error, so be forewarned if that's something you hate.

The game's opening level is simply brilliant and culminates in a battle with a giant spider that chases the boy throughout the level. Sadly, as Limbo progresses, this originality becomes less and less apparent. Developer Playdead relies on seemingly random tricks such as altered gravity and mind-controlling creatures to mix things up. The final act is nothing more than a test of the player's timing.

The whole game will take most players two or three hours to complete, with a few hidden items the only real reason to replay. As mentioned earlier, that's not a slight on the game. As it is, Limbo seems to lose steam by the end, so adding even a few extra puzzles could have really hurt its cause.

As a game, Limbo has its share of faults, but as a narrative experience, it's very powerful and well done.

 

Limbo
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Playdead
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://www.limbogame.org/

Rating: 7.5 / 10

 

Hydro Thunder HurricaneIf you're tired of photorealistic racing series like Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, where the physics are a little too accurate and the ground is a little too ... asphalt-y, it may be about time to look to the water.

Available on Xbox Live Arcade, Hydro Thunder Hurricane is touted as a sequel to 'Hydro Thunder', which was released more than a decade ago in arcades and on several home consoles.

There is nothing about 'HTH' that you haven't seen before in racing games - boosts, powerups, crazy courses with multiple paths and shortcuts ... it's low on originality, but high on playability.

Arcade racing experiences like 'HTH' can't be muddled down by ultra-realistic controls, and luckily, this one is not. You pick a boat based on your playing preference (better top speed, or quicker acceleration? Better boosting, or sharper handling?), and it's off to the races - literally.

Hydro Thunder HurricaneThough the waves are always choppy and there's never a shortage of rival boats to deal with, rarely will you find yourself lost or completely turned around. Regardless of your ride, you'll find that controls are fairly slick, allowing you to enjoy the experience as opposed to fighting to stay on course.

There are several game modes available, and completing them in the top spot or close to it will give you credits which allow you to buy better boats, while opening new modes and maps.

Of course, it's not a racing game on Xbox Live without multiplayer, and 'HTH' doesn't disappoint, allowing for local play via splitscreen or up to eight players online.

As much game as there is here considering it's a downloadable title, there are still some limits, so things like voiceovers and graphics seem to be missing a bit of polish. In addition, as fun as the game modes are, they start to feel somewhat repetitive before long. DLC is sure to help keep things fresh, but that also means extra cost.

We've seen a lot worse racing games, and Hydro Thunder Hurricane gets the job done ... just don't expect any sort of revolutionary or even evolutionary experience. Just expect a lot of water and a lot of boosting.

 

Hydro Thunder Hurricane
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Vector Unit
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site: http://www.xbox.com/en-US/games/h/hydrothunderhurricanexbla/

Rating: 7 / 10

 
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G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.