WipEout HD PSN Review

The worst thing you could say about WipEout HD would be that it is to some extent a rehash of older games in the series, and to be honest that would be a fair criticism. However, saying that does a gargantuan disservice to the work Sony Liverpool has put into the game. Yes, the tracks may be remakes of what was on show in the previous games, namely the PSP versions, but there is much more atop of that to make the game very much worthwhile.

The initial wow factor for the game is definitely the graphics, as the game runs at 60FPS while played at 1080p. These silly numbers may not mean much to some, but put in simple terms it means your eyes will bleed from the amazing graphics on screen as WipEout HD is a true high-def game. More so, it is one of the few titles available today that lives up to the outlandish promises made in the run up to the launch of this generation’s high-def platforms. However, no game lives on graphics alone, so it is good to see WipEout HD also impresses in the gameplay department.

Campaign mode will probably be the first port of call for most people, where you start with the slowest of crafts and race on tracks with sweeping easy bends and then go on to work your way up to the top. Thankfully, just like the PSP games, the races in WipEout HD’s campaign are unlocked via a grid system, which means you don’t have to go through each race linearly, and possibly end up getting stuck on one.

Because of the nature of the grid layout if you get bronze or better in a race all adjacent challenges in the grid will be unlocked, which gives you the option to pick and chooses what type of event you want to take on next. Thankfully the events are made up of more than just a collection of races, which keeps things exciting throughout the game, as you can pick between lap time trials, course time trails, competitive races and zone races. If you accumulate enough points in these events you move to the next tournament – of which they are eight available – which boast tighter bends to navigate, and faster crafts to pilot.

When on the track things are pretty familiar if you played some of the earlier games, as the same weapon pickups, boosters and controls are available. In a competitive race you are still up against 8 other AI players, and you can either try to take them down with weapons or boost your way to the front. The weapon pickups and boosters are cleverly positioned on the track, meaning there are many times you will have to pick between one or the other in a split second tactical decision. When racing a time trial the pickups are completely removed and only boosters litter the track. To succeed in these events you’ll have to memorize where the booster are, and hit every one to try and shave femtoseconds of your time to get that illusive gold medal.

Then there is Zone mode, which is easily the most interesting mode in the game, and looks every bit the part as well. In zone you start of at the slowest speed available, and as you drive around the track you move from one zone to the next. Each zone you move up means your speed increases, and everything gets much more frantic the longer you play. You then have to try and keep racing for as long as you can without crashing, as the game keeps moving you on and on to the next zone. This may sound great in its own right, but it is in fact that way this mode is presented that takes it to the level of awesomeness.

The awesomeness comes from the fact that zone tracks are completely stripped of the textures that make up normal racing tracks, and are instead replaced with a range of bright vibrant colours. As you race, and move up from zone to zone you will eventually hear a whoosh sound, and then the whole track changes from one colour to another. For example, it may start a pinky/orange tinge, then down the line change to a myriad of vivid beautiful blues and greens. This keeps happening throughout the whole course, and will keeping going until you end up crashing.

One true change for the series is the new option to control crafts via the Sixaxis motion sensing feature. There are two options here. One is to completely control the craft with the Sixaxis, and the other lets you the pitch of the craft with the Sixaxis and leave the other joypad controls intact. Interestingly, this option does not seem to be completely useless, like it was in other PS3 racers, and with some practice a few people may end up preferring it. I managed to come forth once with full Sixaxis controller turned on, which was an achievement for me! In other good news the race announcer, who shouts out the name of the weapon you pick up, what lap you are on, or where you finish, sounds like a computerized version of Keeley Hawes. Hooray!

Of course, WipEout would not be WipEout without some Avant-garde, electronic dance tunes, and WipEout HD is no different as there is a nice selection of tracks that perfectly suit the game. There are even parts of the track that light up in time with the music. However, if you don’t find anything in the official soundtrack you like, then there is a fantastic custom soundtrack option available that will play songs you have set up in a playlist when you race, switching back to normal sound effects as you browse menus.

For a series aficionado WipEout HD is an instant pick up, as it is the most immaculate incarnation of the series yet. Equally, newcomers should find it a nice place to hop aboard, as it offers a nice cross section of what the much loved series is all about, which is all delivered with beautiful and crisp presentation.

I did not even have time to fully discus the game’s online options, which by the way I found were mostly lag free, the trophies support, which is probably the best for a PS3 game yet, and the Photo Mode which you can use to output 1920×1080 images to an SD card and do whatever you want to with them. Maybe even get a poster printed?

All said and done, I would happily pick up WipEout HD as a full priced game from any store, as it is just that damn good. So for a paltry £11.99 it should be considered a absolute steal.

9/10

by

Version tested: PSN

Developer: Studio Liverpool

Publisher: SCEE

Genre: Futuristic Racer