System: Playstation 3
Developer: SCE Studio Liverpool
Release Date: September 25, 2008
Slick visuals, a pounding techno soundtrack, fast-paced racing gameplay. Wipeout HD has everything I love in a racing title, and I am shocked that it took me this long to check it out. Kudos to Sony for making this a part of their Welcome Back package a couple months ago.
I have never played a Wipeout title before, so this is all new to me. Those who have played the PSP titles, Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse, will feel right at home here, however, since eight of their combined tracks have been remade for HD. The lack of original content may irk series veterans, but it’s pure bliss for a newbie like me.
In Wipeout HD, you pilot an anti-gravity craft through a variety of different races. Some are simple — i.e. regular lap races and time trials — but others are unique, such as the trippy-as-fuck Zone mode. The Zone mode is unlike anything I have ever experienced in a racing game. In this, you are racing alone on a track that keeps pushing you forward faster and faster until you are at breakneck speeds. The kicker is that the environment’s colors frequently change into a vibrant array of neon imagery that make it feel as if you are racing through an out-of-control acid trip. Seriously, it’s insane.
The game’s campaign mode throws all of these different types of races at you via eight different “levels”. The races start off easy enough, but they get increasingly more difficult the deeper you go. Around the halfway mark, there is a noticeable raise in difficulty, and it can become a challenge to even earn a bronze model at that point. Still, the races are quick and very, very fun, so even those who are easily frustrated will keep pushing forward.
Not enough can be said about Wipeout HD’s presentation. The game’s 1080p and 60 frames-per-second visuals are absolutely stunning, and the in-game racing is as smooth as can be. Quite frankly, this is amazing for a downloadable title. The techno soundtrack fits the gameplay perfectly, complete with tracks from some of my personal favorites such as Booka Shade and Mason.
As if Wipeout HD wasn’t amazing enough in its own regard, Sony included the Fury add-on pack in the Welcome Back package. Fury adds eight new tracks, 13 new ship models and three new game modes, all of which essentially double the single player content. Incredible.
I am smitten with Wipeout HD. This is exactly the kind of arcade racer that I enjoy, and I haven’t played such a game that brings everything together the way this does. If you missed out on getting it for free, rest assured that the bundle is still a steal at its $24.99 price tag. Brace yourself for a wild ride.