Real world water physics in a video game, that’s what you get from Hydrophobia. Using the Hydro Engine, created by Dark Energy Digital, Hydrophobia is a game set in the mid-21st century after an event known as The Great Population Flood forces people off land. Taking place on board a luxury cruise ship (the size of a city), dubbed The Queen of the World, Hydrophobia offers a decent story-line combined with typical TPS (third-person shooter) controls.
You control Kate Wilson, a systems engineer, who along with the help of Scoot, sets about to learn the truth and stay alive. The terrorist group known as the Malthusians (named after a political economist that predicted population growth would deplete natural resources) have bombed and boarded The Queen to murder the humans that have colonized there.
Although the Malthusians are a threat, the water is what you need to watch out for the most. As helpful as it is harmful, water plays an integral part of the game. The way the water flows in this game is surreal. Many times I found myself watching the water more than reaching the objective at hand. At one moment you find yourself ankle deep in water and the next you are pushed around by waves.
Close quarter firefights can end with you struggling for air as explosive barrels can rip a wall open and flood the room with water. If used to your advantage, you can take out your enemies in a wave with a well placed shot. Some objectives can only be completed by either draining or flooding a room. The fluid dynamics are impressive and I can draw no comparison to anything other than the real deal. You can’t help but be awed by immersive feelings as you dive down an elevator shaft amidst huge pieces of debris that are weightless in the water and tumble away effortlessly in your wake.
Only consisting of 3 acts, the 6 -7 hours spent on Hydrophobia are well worth the 1200 MS Point price tag ($15.00), not to mention the 12 achievements that come with all arcade titles. It is single player only, but it offers plenty of replay value as the environment is different every time.
The choice of different ammo and in what situation you use it makes for some interesting Malthusian kills, although some ammo is rare and tough to find. There are collectibles in the game but the urgency that is thrust upon you with the threat of flooding makes it rather difficult to explore. I found that the map is very useful as it identifies air pockets that you can use while diving/swimming in a flooded chamber, but it is very easy to become disoriented when underwater.
At times it can be hard to determine what you need to do to accomplish your set goals and having to restart due to drowning can get very old, very quick. The controls are easy to learn, the water physics are simply amazing, and the fact that this plays like a retail title makes this a must have despite the flaws. Hydrophobia is available at this time only on the XBOX 360 console as an XBLA game. There is a PC and PS3 release on the horizon but pricing is not yet available.
The water physics here are incredible and with easy to learn controls and tons of replay value, this one is worth checking out.