The Wipeout series has been synonymous with Playstation consoles since the Playstation 1. The series has also always been known for adrenaline pumping speed, above average graphics and its techno themed sound track that keeps your blood flowing.
Sony has decided to bring the Wipeout series to the PS3 via a Playstation Network exclusive title. Wipeout HD is essentially everything that Wipeout fans have come to expect, but updated to represent some of the more advanced features of the PS3, such as high definition 1080p graphics running at 60fps, free online play, Sixaxis controls and a customizable sound track.
The screen shots accompanying this review do not do this game justice. Wipeout HD is truly next generation in visual prowess and has to be seen in motion in order to fully appreciate its beauty. Everything from the race vehicles, to the tracks, to the background scenery are all presented in high detail. Wipeout HD supports resolutions all the way up to 1080p so those with capable televisions are in for an extra treat. The game is advertised to run at a constant 60fps and I believe it. Even during online play the game managed to keep a steady frame rate.
The visual style is what you would expect from a Wipeout game. This is especially true since all of the 8 included tracks are taken almost directly from old Wipeout games. The tracks all have a futuristic theme with city back drops and the occasional breathtaking grand view.
The graphics in Wipeout HD certainly do not disappoint and long time series fans owe it to themselves to check out the game, if only to see all their favorite tracks with updated graphics. The bump mapping and lighting alone will impress long time series fans.
The music in the Wipeout series has always had a techno sound track that is designed to be every bit as fast as the races themselves. In this case, Wipeout HD includes 9 songs from previous Wipeout games that have all been remixed and are presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
Aside from the addition of 5.1 surround sound, Wipeout HD features most of the same sound effects that Wipeout fans are used to. There are explosions and missiles buzzing past your vehicle that all sound realistic. The vehicles themselves do not offer a Detroit Muscle Nascar roar, instead they have a slight jet engine sound as they move and are very appropriate for the futuristic vehicle design.
Once again the controls are an area that long time Wipeout fans will find themselves familiar with. The analog controls for Wipeout HD are exactly the same as all of the Wipeout games from the PS2. The analog controls are responsive and the tightness of your turns will depend on each individual vehicle’s handling stats.
The biggest change for Wipeout HD is the inclusion of optional Sixaxis control for steering and pitch. I know that almost everyone reading this review just let out a huge sigh of indifference. But I will defend the Sixaxis controls for this game. Anyone who has played Mario Cart Wii using the motion controls will instantly be at home with the Sixaxis controls for Wipeout. The first couple of laps using Sixaxis will be a bit shaky and out of control, but once you get the feel of it you will be able to steer your racer quite effectively. For instance, the first time I tried Sixaxis in the game was on a seven lap, time trial. By the time I got to the seventh lap I actually earned a new track speed record that was 1 second faster than my previous analog control speed record. Sony has apparantly learned from past mistakes as well and has made the sixaxis control method optional with anaolog controls being the default control method.
Wipeout HD offers campaign, racebox and online game modes. The campaign is the main part of the game and is broken up into 8 different events. Each event contains several different sub races. Earning 1st through 3rd place in each race will award you with points and earning enough points will unlock the next event. On top of that, races can award you with loyalty points that can be used to unlock new vehicle skins and new vehicles. Making it all the way through each event can be challenging and will definitely push a lot of gamer’s skills.
The racebox mode is similar to freeplay in other games. It allows you to race on any track that you have unlocked in single race, tournament, time trial, speed lap or zone modes. On top of that, racebox offers 2 player simultaneous play via split screen. Sony went so far as to allow the player to select vertical or horizontal split screen options.
8 player online play has also been added via the Playstation Network. Online play works and is very fun. Even on a slow DSL connection the races are smooth and there is no noticeable lag. The only problem I had with online play is that it is up to the games host to start the game, this is true even if all the players are in the lobby and ready to go. Many times I found myself sitting in a full lobby with ready players waiting on the host to launch the game. The addition of an auto launch would be nice.
Wipeout HD is only available on the PSN and it costs $19.99. I find that to be very cheap for what is essentially a full game. This isn