Xbox Live Arcade game Hydrophobia released this summer to mixed, sometimes harsh reviews. The developer, Dark Energy Digital, has taken those criticisms to heart and will release a massive update to the game that will dramatically change how it plays.

Dark Energy calls the update, due on December 21, Hydrophobia Pure. It "overhauls many of the games systems and introduces a number of enhancements, according to the feedback we received from critics and the community." It also comes with a new price for Hydrophobia, 800 Microsoft Points. Current owners of Hydrophobia receive the hefty update for free.

For the very long list of changes from a committed, perhaps humbled developer, read on and see them in action in the Hydrophobia Pure trailer above.

Improved Graphics

  • Character dynamic self-shadowing
  • Enhanced lighting
  • Improved textures
  • Better water spray effects
  • Improved water reflection and refraction
  • Enhanced electricity effects
  • Environmental geometry tweaks
  • Additional video texture work

Physics Enhancements

  • Increased number of dynamic objects
  • More realistic character water resistance
  • Explosive forces re-balanced

Overhauled Camera System

  • Camera positioned closer to character
  • Improved tracking of the action
  • Enhanced collision detection
  • Better FOV for framing the action

Improved Movement and Animations

  • More fluid and precise character control
  • Improved character animations add realism
  • Enhanced animation transitions make the character more 'weighty'

New Climbing System

  • Continuous hand-over-hand climbing system added
  • All new, more realistic animations
  • More fluid climbing controls and movement

Platforming

  • Automatic ledge grab functionality
  • Improved swing mechanic
  • Improved jump-from-balance mechanic

Control Layout

  • Switch to a more traditional control layout
  • A to jump
  • LT to aim
  • RB to detonate enhanced Gel and Energy Rounds

Dialogue Re-Edit

  • Dialogue has been pruned
  • Irritating or extraneous lines cut

Cutscenes Re-edit

  • Cutscenes reviewed and edited
  • Overly long cutscenes shortened

Collectables

  • Emails and E-Books no longer interrupt gameplay when collected
  • Collectables re-positioned throughout levels
  • Points awarded for collectables tweaked

New Waypoint System

  • Waypoints for every objective and sub objective
  • Choose permanent on-screen waypoints or new MAVI only mode
  • Waypoints added for Ciphers and Frequency Keys with colour coding
  • Corpses with Frequency Keys glow orange for easy identification

Map Improved

  • Improved controls and button layout
  • Default view of Kate's position
  • Toggle Kate's position / objective location manually
  • Easier to navigate

Prompts

  • Prompts re-worked for better clarity
  • Prompt triggering reviewed and improved

Tutorials

  • Video tutorials cut back
  • Improved in game tutorials
  • New tutorial puzzles

Wading Improved

  • Enhanced physical character feedback from water forces
  • Improved transitions between wade states

Swimming Improved

  • Improved swimming controls, more finely balanced
  • 180 degree swim turn removed
  • Improved camera behaviour when swimming
  • Underwater combat system streamlined

Puzzles

  • Improved feedback for Cipher and Frequency Keys
  • Ciphers re-positioned for greater accessibility
  • New mission orders related to Ciphers add to the backstory
  • Existing puzzles refined where possible
  • New electric puzzle elements added

Damage System Improved

  • Kate no longer unfairly damaged/killed by unseen elements
  • Fire/electrical damage reduced
  • Combat damage re-balanced

Overhauled Damage Feedback

  • Monochrome health feedback system implemented
  • Enhanced directional damage indication
  • Heartbeat force feedback and SFX added
  • Audio ducking system improves health feedback

All New Oxygen Feedback System

  • Oxygen bar added
  • Heartbeat force feedback and SFX added
  • Phobia effect for oxygen feedback enhanced
  • Phobia audio hallucinations added
  • FOV pulse added for drowning feedback
  • Phobia warping effect removed from non-submerged sections

Overhauled Combat System

  • Automatic weapon holster/unholster system
  • Seamless integration of combat / non-combat systems
  • Improved aim reticule
  • Aim remapped to LT
  • Destructible objects highlighted more clearly
  • Destructible objects easier to hit
  • A greater supply of ammo throughout the levels
  • AI improved and enemies rebalanced
  • More enemies and more engaging combat design

Weapons Improved

  • Sonic Rounds overheat removed
  • Sonic Rounds charge time halved
  • Sonic Rounds do more damage to NPCs and are lethal
  • Multiple Gel and Energy Rounds can be deployed simultaneously
  • Deployed Gel/Energy rounds can be detonated as a group

All New Cover System

  • Smoother transitions in and out of cover
  • Easier and more intuitive to get in and out of cover
  • Toggle cover whether armed or unarmed
  • All new animations make cover system more realistic

Checkpoints and Reloading

  • Checkpoint positions reviewed and improved
  • More checkpoints
  • Automated and faster reload after death

Levels and Game Balance

  • Vent behaviour improved
  • General level design tweaks
  • AI numbers and positioning improved
  • Ammo amount and placement improved
  • Collectible placement improved
  • Gameplay balance improved throughout

Value

  • Price dropped to just 800 Microsoft points
  • Trial extended to allow players to sample more of the game for free