WipEout HD Review

By Mike on 10:50 am

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WipEout HD is probably this year's most anticipated PSN title. Originally set to be released in the Spring of 2008, the game suffered frequent delays. Now it's September and... the game is finally out. Currently, it is only available from the Playstation Store for the princely sum of $19.99. For those who don't know, Wipeout was one of the original 3D anti-gravity racers. The game first appeared on the original Playstation, PC, and Sega Saturn way back in 1995. WipEout HD is the sixth console version in the series. The game spans several racing modes in futuristic anti-gravity racers, complete with combat racing action.

Wipeout HD borrows heavily from the two recent PSP outings: Wipeouts Pulse and Pure. All the tracks from the PSP versions have been transfered over, with Pure getting more attention than the newer Pulse. Gameplay is also pretty much identical to the PSP titles except with a couple notable differences. As with the PSP version, you use the left analogue stick to pitch and yaw your racer. The X button controls your thrust. L2 and R2 control your left and right air brakes respectively. The square button is used to attack. The differences I mentioned take place in how the craft is controlled. For beginners, there's a new pilot assist feature. This is really helpful since it basically prevents you from crashing into walls unless you do something really stupid. The second feature is the introduction of Sixaxis control to steer the craft. You can either set motion control to pitch the craft or to both pitch and yaw. I found the motion control to be a bit more difficult to use than the analogue stick but some might like it.

The game features two modes: a campign mode and a racebox mode. There are eight campaign tickets which get increasingly difficult as the game progresses. Once you pass the first couple of campaigns, be warned that WipEout gets brutally difficult. The game is a true test of endurance for racing fans as the speeds increase with each class. Those being Venom, Flash, Rapier, and Phantom. The classes are the same as the PSP versions, ranging in from 460km/h at Venom class up to a white knuckled 800km/h in the Phantom level. Race types are also the same as the PSP titles so I'll just copy and paste from that review. Race types include single race, head-to-head, tournament, time trial, speed lap, and zone. The first four are self-explanatory. Speed lap involves getting the fastest lap time in a series of laps. Zone is extremely fast paced with all racer stats maxed out. The computer increases the speed for each 10 second zone you complete. The goal is to survive as long as possible, which is harder than it sounds. Missing from WipEout HD is the Eliminator mode featured in Pulse. This mode was a combat mode that saw you racing to take out all your opponents while they tried to do the same. For racers, there are 12 teams you can choose from with 8 to start with. Ships and additional liveries are unlockable by beating certain challenges in campaign mode or getting team loyalty points. Weapons in game are the same as the PSP versions and function in the same manner. For multiplayer, the game supports up to 8 players online or two players in split screen. Additionally, the game also includes trophy support, giving you a wide array of challenges to complete from easy to utterly brutal.

Graphics is where WipEout HD really shines. As I said, it takes what we saw on the PSP and pumps it up on steroids. The game supports full 1080p at a blistering 60fps, something that is unheard of for a downloadable title. As far as I know, the only other game that supports those resolutions on the PS3 is Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. As you'd expect from WipEout, what we have are clean, futuristic, and dangerous tracks. The graphics are razor sharp and the lighting is perfect. There are absolutely no frame rate or tearing issues at all. WipEout HD is probably one of the best looking racing games on the Playstation 3, probably tying GT5 in graphics quality and performace. Unlike GT5 though, your ships look more realistic. Though damage isn't rendered, your craft do at least look reasonably weathered.

For audio, the game features sound in Dolby Digital 5.1. The music in game has been directly copied from WipEout's Pulse and Pure, which is in a futuristic techno style. The game does allow for custom sound tracks though, allowing you to use any album folder or custom playlist on your PS3's hard drive. However, the game only supports playback of MP3 or AAC files. Playlists are selected through the game's audio options menu rather than using in-game XMB.

WipEout has become the benchmark for anti-gravity racing games. While WipEout HD borrows its content from the two PSP outings, what we have is something that is truly a spectacle to behold. The racing is fast paced and brutal and is sure to wet the appitite of hardcore racing fans. The new Pilot Assist mode is a huge improvement over past titles since it opens the game up to more casual racing fans. The game runs in full HD at 60fps, making fast and immersive gameplay. The controls are kept simple and are tight and responsive. Overall, WipEout HD is probably one of the best, if not the best PSN titles we've seen so far. Furthermore, the game is only $20, which is a considerable bargain considering what you're getting. The full game weighs in at just under 1gb. I'd definitely pick this up if you're looking for a racing challenge.

What Works
-Razor sharp full 1080p graphics at 60 frames per second
-Fast paced gameplay enhanced by sharp, simple controls
-Pilot Assist mode helps beginners and causal racers get into the game
-Support for custom soundtracks
-Trophy support with a wide variety of challenges
-Doesn't mess with a winning formula

What Doesn't Work
-Tracks and teams identical to PSP versions. No original content, yet.

Score 9 out of 10

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