Wipeout HD Review
The Wipeout series has been a a staple in gaming since Sony’s Studio Liverpool, formally Psygnosis, created it back in 1995. Studio Liverpool has been one of the foremost racing developers with their futuristic racer at the forefront. Now they are bringing their well received PsP games to the Ps3 in the form of Wipeout HD.
It is unclear when in the wipeout story Wipeout HD takes place in, but since it is a HD version of the psp games it is most likely set in the year 2207. For those who don’t know racing has taken the form of the FX400 anti gravity racing league. There are eight teams who compete in a race but there are more companies in the league. That is basically the story of Wipeout HD, even though you would never know any of this without previous knowledge of the series. With racing games however a lack of story is excused.
Wipeout takes place in futuristic race tracks with anti gravity ships. At higher speed settings the game move extremely fasts but on lower will seem like a normal racing game. The game sports a number of modes ranging from Tournament, Single Racer, Speed Lap, Time Trial, and the grand daddy of all modes, Zone. Like the previous wipeout title, Pulse, HD uses a hexadecimal grid for the campaigns. How these campaigns work is that completing a race next to a “locked” portion of the grid will unlock giving you access to that race. The goal is to complete enough races in a Campaign to move on to the next. This is very much simplified from Pulse, in a good way.
There was a point in Pulse where the number of grids within a campaign would be ridiculously large and almost endless. The game sports 8 Campaigns that increase in size each time you move up. Completing grids and moving onto the next for the most part isn’t too difficult until you past the benchmark of the 4th campaign. After this races become more difficult to finish which makes moving on more difficult. However this is a welcomed challenge as Pulse was never hard enough to give you a challenge in any reasonable amount of time.
For the most part the race modes are the standard fare of racing, with the exception of Zone. Now I’ve given praise to Zone mode in Pulse before but Zone in Wipeout HD is an entirely different beast. Zone mode has the player pilot through and endless race with the speed of your ship increasing at intervals. The goal of zone is to survive as long as possible, which I can tell you, is not as easy as it sounds. What makes Zone mode so different in HD is the presentation. In Pulse Zone looked much like a normal race, just with different rules, in HD the presentation makes Zone a unique racing experience. As you go through the level the color set of the level will periodically change making it an ever changing world in a sense. Not only that but the beats of the music will play behind the ship making the music blend into the physical race. As the speeds get higher the game almost becomes surreal with the ever changing colors and beats.
Now then, there are a few maneuvers in controlling your ship. A big new addition is the Pilot Assist option. What this does is to move you away from the edge of the tracks. It is a very handy tool meant to help new and medium skilled players. However in certain circumstances, and in higher speeds it becomes more of a hassle rather than a help. What happens is that at higher speeds controlling your ship is more difficult so turns are wider and you are more likely to hit walls. With Pilot Assist your ship might wildly be swinging around, reducing your speed and make it hard to race. There is also a barrel roll that isn’t essential, but mastered it can turn the tide of a race.
The online system, nay the entire menu set up is extremely slick and streamlined and really hits with the style of the game. The online mode has players choosing a lobby created by other players to participate in a race. The game might have been helped by a simple, “Auto Join” system but it is not a big deal. The lobby system works well and online racers are extremely smooth with absolutely no lagg or errors I’ve found. Photo Mode also returns allowing players to at any point take pictures of the race(I Should note that every screenshot in this review is taken using Photo Mode). The game also sports Trophies and Split Screen play. Trophies are well balanced with a number of easy to obtain trophies, but also some really out there ones. Overall though they work in balance making it fun to try some of the crazy ones.
Superb, Superb, Superb. The visual presentation is mind blowing. Wipeout HD is the best looking game I’ve had the pleasure of playing. From the moment you get into your first race you will see the immense detail of the game and it makes the game all the more enjoyable. Everything from the tracks to the ships look incredible and really show how a HD enabled game should look like. The audio has also been given a similar treatment, with the superb soundtrack of the PsP games brought out in quality that the PsP just couldn’t match. Not only can you use the extremely well done soundtrack, but also the game sports custom sound tracks so you can play your own music.
Wipeout HD is a superb racing experience that I recommend to anyone who has a remote interest in the genre. The presentation is absolutely mind blowing, the gameplay is tight and extremely enjoyable and just overall it is a fantastic game. If you’ve played the PsP games before, you’ll soon forget you did with how well this game was made. If it isn’t obvious by now what I’m giving it, here’s a hint.