Generally favorable reviews - based on 32 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 32
  2. Negative: 2 out of 32
  1. 95
    It's not often that you run across a good XBLA with flair all its own, but Undertow has it in spades.
  2. Spend your 800 Points with a smile, and dive deep. [Oct 2007, p.70]
  3. Speaking of looks, this game is quite visually impressive. It looks great, especially for an arcade download. The lighting effects are spectacular and really give off a great underwater ambience.
  4. If you liked Geometry Wars then you will probably like Undertow and I highly recommend coughing up the 800 points to play it.
  5. Undertow is a whole lot of fun, and it delivers a full size game in a small package. The classic arcade action makes it easy to pick up, but it manages to deliver enough depth to keep you engaged.
  6. With solid gameplay, a fun story, and a great online component, Undertow is a great addition to anyone’s Xbox Live Arcade library.
  7. While the gameplay is easy, we found the level of difficulty to be perfectly balanced and the vehicle upgrades to be a welcome addition to the standard shooter.
  8. Undertow stands tall above all other Xbox Live Arcade games as the best of the bunch and accomplishes this by being pure fun in a ten-dollar package.
  9. Undertow is a unique and addictive game. It really embodies everything I want to see in an XBLA game.
  10. Undertow is one of those rare surprises that at some times feels like a casual game—not because it’s easy to win, but because it’s easy to play—yet still delivers solid gameplay across its scope. And with Chair promising to support the game with new maps for players to download after its premiere, you have to expect that there’ll be reasons to dive into the Undertow ocean now and again.
  11. 87
    Undertow is a perfect fit for the Xbox Live Arcade. It's fast, fun, attractive and can support 16 players online. The concept is distilled down to the basics, letting the idea and its execution speak for themselves.
  12. Undertow is one of those great games where the demo and description do not do it justice. It is one of the most addictive, challenging, and deepest games Live Arcade offers.
  13. Although the concepts may not be new, the setting and general feel of the gameplay help it to become one of the best original Live Arcade games. Why is no one is playing it.
  14. There are a few shortcomings: although the maps are gorgeous, many of them look and feel a bit too similar. The gameplay can also get repetitive with only two game types.
  15. All this comes wrapped in what is arguably the best audiovisual package on Live Arcade, with lighting and water effects are so smooth and nuanced that it’s easy to forget, maybe even hard to believe, that this is a downloadable game and not a fully-realized retail release.
  16. In the audio department the sound effects and music are passable, but not really anything worth paying much attention to. They get the job done, but never really push the boundaries, with most of the sound effects feeling very generic.
  17. All in all, Undertow is an enjoyable original XBLA title. And for the price of 800MS points ($10), this game is a steal.
  18. It's the deceptive simplicity of Undertow that makes it compelling - that and the easy-to-learn rules and controls.
  19. Undertow is a fun, no-brainer and is a welcome addition to Xbox Live. Make sure you convince a couple of mates to fork out for it as well and you'll have a blast.
  20. 80
    Undertow is among the better XBLA games and one of the best originals to arrive so far.
  21. 80
    The content itself is rock-solid, and offers an absolutely unique take (visually, as well) on years of carefully refined multiplayer notions. Undertow isn't quite a must-buy, but it's easily one of the more sensible ways to spend $10 online.
  22. Arcade shooter meets online first-person shooter and the results can be pretty enjoyable.
  23. A solid, fun and at times entrancing shooter that stands head and shoulders above most titles on the service in the graphics department.
  24. Supporting up to 16 players, online versus battles tend to be extremely chaotic and fun, while still requiring a decent amount of strategy for success.
  25. Undertow is a good fit for the Xbox Live Arcade. The action is fast and uncomplicated, it has plenty of options for the single-player and multiplayer experiences, and the tight controls do a good job of making the player want to partake in the action.
  26. The main campaign is short on the standard difficulty, but it can become a frustrating experience on the Ultra mode unless you've got a buddy to help you out.
  27. A very beautiful, very enticing Arcade title, but one that can quickly lose its luster after some time.
  28. It's safe to go back into the water with Undertow, an under-the-sea XBLA shooter with solid multiplayer modes of play.
  29. X-ONE Magazine UK
    If only the single player campaign was more entertaining. [Issue#29, p.117]
  30. games(TM)
    The purpose of a review is to help the reader to decide how best to spend their money, and there is little in Undertow’s familiar mechanics that can’t be found better executed elsewhere. [Jan 2008, p.130]
  31. Xbox World 360 Magazine UK
    Call it a failed experiment, but a worthy try. [Jan 2008, p.94]
  32. Hardcore Gamer
    Undertow is an obnoxious, aggravating mess that, while trying something clever by combining a 2D twin-stick arena shooter with team-based gameplay, fails to be any fun whatsoever. [Spring 2008, p.61]
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 37 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 37
  2. Negative: 6 out of 37
  1. Jun 26, 2011
    now for a free game you would think its hard to complain about it since you didnt pay any thing for it but this was givin by MS as a sorry fornow for a free game you would think its hard to complain about it since you didnt pay any thing for it but this was givin by MS as a sorry for when XBL was messed up for 12 days . well it was more of a slap in the face . the game is just so mind numbinly boring and the controls suck. graphically for a arcade game it doesnt look to bad thats about the only good thing i can say about this game . all you do is swim around shooting crap ... that was fun... 25 years ago ... Full Review »
  2. PedleZ
    Feb 1, 2008
    Pros: Some nice graphical effects provided by the Unreal engine, decent level design, both local and online coop play is supported Cons: Pros: Some nice graphical effects provided by the Unreal engine, decent level design, both local and online coop play is supported Cons: horrible cutscenes, goofy story, poor camera views (it's easy to lose sight of your character behind objects), extremely short campaign, humdrum achievements (10K kills is TEDIOUS) Full Review »
  3. InvaderPhlegm
    Jan 19, 2008
    I don't even know where to begin with this one. This is easily the best XBLA title out there and does more to live up to the promise of I don't even know where to begin with this one. This is easily the best XBLA title out there and does more to live up to the promise of what XBLA could be, than any other game on the service. The demo was kinda weak, and if no one bought it based on the demo, it's understandable. However, what comes after the demo is pure videogaming bliss - definitely a game not to be missed by anyone with a pulse who loves videogames. There is more going on with Undertow, than a lot of premium ($60) titles, and the 16-player online mode kicks more ass than a room full of feet and donkeys. This is certainly a AAA first effort by new developer Chair, and if it is any indication of their dedication to making the best games around, then I for one cannot wait to get my hands on their next title. I've got a very good feeling about Chair. If Undertow is their idea of a virtual console game, then watch out for when they start releasing premium content titles. These guys are easily going to be in the same ranks as companies like Valve, Infinity Ward, Bungie, Irrational Games, BioWare . . . you get the point. Anyway, if you have the cash, get Undertow, it is easily the best $10 you will spend on Xbox Live. Full Review »