Hydro Thunder Hurricane splashes onto XBLA this week

Xbox Live Update: $15 water racer splashes down this week along with Alan Wake DLC; Games on Demand welcomes LOTR: Conquest, Smackdown vs. Raw 2008 & 2009; demo for Madden NFL 11 rounds out the week.

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No Caption Provided Last week, Microsoft ushered in the gloomy, dark, and stellar Limbo to kick off its Summer of Arcade release schedule. This week, the company builds upon that momentum and revs up Hydro Thunder Hurricane for Xbox Live Arcade and unleashes three new Games on Demand titles, two demos, and steep price cuts on Borderlands' downloadable content.

Hydro Thunder Hurricane (1,200 MS points or $15) from Vector Unit, is a water-based racer that thrusts players into the maritime vehicles and pits drivers against each other in both single-player and multiplayer. The game is due out Wednesday, July 28, where players can race against 15 AI-controlled opponents in the game's single-player component and battle up to seven others across Xbox Live. Additionally, the powerboat game sports leaderboard functionality, as well as a number of boats and skins to unlock to keep the action fresh. The original Hydro Thunder debuted in arcades and was later brought to the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation One.

Wednesday's forecast is for thunder.
Wednesday's forecast is for thunder.

This week, Remedy's Alan Wake received new downloadable content called The Signal, which is free for those who purchased the game new and 560 MS points ($7) for everyone else. The horror game's first batch of DLC brings players back to the gloomy town of Bright Falls where more mystery is afoot.

Switching to Games on Demand, Microsoft added three new titles to its growing downloadable library this week. The first is Pandemic's Lord of the Rings: Conquest (1,600 MS points, or $19.99). The action title, which was tepidly received, allows gamers to play as either evil or good in the Tolkein-created Middle-earth universe. Would-be purchasers should know Electronic Arts shut down the game's online servers in March, which renders the game's multiplayer component unplayable.

Also hitting the full game download hub this week are two pugilistic entries from THQ. Smackdown vs. Raw 2008, and Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 leap into the ring this week, packing everything fans remember from the games' respective debuts. The 2008 iteration includes the fighting style system, a mechanic that allows players to adopt preset abilities, and the 2009 version allows players to light the ring on fire in inferno match.

The other demo now available is for Electronic Arts' annualized gridiron simulator, Madden NFL 11. The demo grants players a first look at the latest football game from EA Sports, which touts itself as being simpler, quicker, and deeper. The demo also lets players experience the voice of Gus Johnson, the franchise's new voice talent.

For the deal-seeking loot-and-shoot gamer, Microsoft has cut the price of all available Borderlands downloadable content by 50 percent. The game's three content packs, Zombie Island, The Underdome, and Secret Armory, are now available for 400 MS points or $5 for Xbox Live Gold members.

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