Saturday, October 4, 2008

Wipeout HD [PS3] - Review

Wipeout HD is the first installment of the iconic racer on the latest Playstation console. It has been a long, long time in coming but it has been worth the wait. Having been in development for well over a year (a long time for a downloadable title) and dogged by epilepsy test failures it finally hit the PSN store a couple of weeks ago. The game takes the best tracks and the teams of the last two Wipeout titles on PSP and gives it a HD polish.

Wipeout has been around now for 13 years and not much has changed gameplay wise. Anyone who is familar with the series will be thankful for that. The player pilots their hovercraft around large complex courses at high velocity trying to gain speed boosts and weapons. All the while trying to avoid opponents, walls and opposition weapons. The opposition AI will provide a real challenge and are actually very aggressive. The feeling of immense speed is here and I think this is the fastest of the Wipeout games that I've played. The controls will take time to get used to for those who haven't played before but perseverence is worth it. Once you get a handle on the left/right airbrake system you'll be flying around the track mere millimetres from the wall.

The one addition to the gameplay has been the addition of barrel rolls. Performed while in the air they will give you a speed boost when you land but they do cause damage so sparing use is essential. The most obvious improvement here is the graphics which are produced in full 1080p HD, hence the name. The game runs at a very solid 60fps and even at its fastest the game is silky smooth. The track design is very impressive with plenty of background details and vertigo inducing loops. This game is easily the equal of any other racing game this generation.

The sound is a very important aspect of any Wipeout game and this version hasn't stumbled here. The sound effects are very impressive. There are some good music tracks too from recognisable artists but the soundtrack is not as strong as previous games. This may be due to the fact that a budget for a downloadable game doesn't stretch to licencing more expensive artists. This isn't a problem though as custom soundtracks are supported so you can play music stored on the HDD of your PS3. One cool thing I noticed is that the sound of the music will distort if your ship is hit or if your going through a tunnel the sound will change to suit that. Very impressive.

I've mentioned that this is only a downloadable game but do not let that you put you off. There is simply a ton of content here. There are 8 tracks (which can be played in reverse configuration) and many different race modes - time trial, single race, tournament, speed lap, zone mode and online racing. There are also 12 teams and ships to master. The zone mode is something that has been in previous games and is a fan favourite. You race along and the game gets progressively faster and you just have to stay alive as long as possible. The music playing will affect the visuals on screen with the track and backgrounds flashing to the beat of the music. Very cool stuff. Throw in trophy support and this is a very substantial package indeed.

The online component works superbly and supports up to 8 racers. It is easy to find a race and one that suits your skill level. I have experienced no lag while playing the game and that was with the full 8 players. Worldwide leader boards will also have people coming back to try and post faster times.
Put simply this is a must buy title for owners of a PS3. The game is only €17.99, which is an absolute bargain. Great gameplay, amazing graphics and a lot of repayability. Go and buy.

Simply stunning. The graphics are produced in full 1080p HD resolution and it looks amazing. Equally impressive is the fact that it runs at 60fps making for a silky smooth visual experience.

Music has always been a trademark of the series and the sound here doesn't disappoint. Great sound effects and some good tunes combine to enhance the Wipeout experience. Plus there is support for custom soundtracks.

Very responsive controls and there are a number of control schemes on offer. Sixaxis controls are perhaps not as good as using the tradition dpad. Control is given over input sensitivity so there can be no complaints over control of your ship.

Quite simply this is a must buy. Excellent graphics, sound and gameplay. There is a lot of content and the online component will have you coming back time and again. Only €17.99! Buy now!

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