In this day and age of downloadable games it’s not surprising that many classic games have been chosen to either show their age or show how timeless they are. Some of these revivals are in their original formats and others have been given cosmetic makeovers and/or received additional content. Of course not all attempts capture people’s hearts as the originals did but some do re-establish themselves for the modern gaming audience. So how does the ambitious WipEout HD fare against the record of hit and miss remakes? Is it truly High Definition or Highly Disappointing?
WipEout HD comprises of the eight tracks from the PSP games, Pure and Pulse, with a hope for additional downloadable content in the form of tracks, ships, music and even game modes in the future. As always in the WipEout games, the aim is to fly round a track as fast as possible. This simple premise is split into a number of modes including time trials, single races, tournaments and speed laps where the aim is to reach a specific lap time within a number of laps. The other modes are fairly common racing game foray, but WipEout does bring something new to the table with its Zones mode. Zones challenges players to survive as long as they can around a track at a constant speed before they damage their ship too much and lose, to make things tougher for every 10 ‘zones’ they pass through, the speed of the ship increases and becomes harder to control. With no way to slow down or speed up your ship this can make for some nerve-racking gameplay. One thing fans of the PSP games will notice is the absence of the Elimination mode, a disappointing omission that would be a welcome addition and will hopefully be added in a future DLC update.
First and foremost, this game is an absolute treat for the eyes. This is proper 1080p high definition gaming running at a blistering 60fps. Comparing it to the PSP games would be pointless but in comparison to anything else on the PS3, this is easily one of the best looking games on the system. It’s hard not to admire the details in the distractingly beautiful environments, but in doing so your ship usually ends up flying off the track or bumping into the sides and drastically slowing your momentum. The ships themselves are the stars of the show and so they should be. Meticulously crafted and packed full of tiny details that are easy to miss when speeding round the track; but when photo mode is pulled up the true beauty of the visuals is revealed. It has to be seen to be truly appreciated. All of this is complimented by a suitably fast paced techno soundtrack, which, mirrors the futuristic vibe of the game. Alternatively there is the option for custom soundtracks should you prefer to blast around the track to the sounds of your choice.
Anyone who has played any WipEout game before will not be disappointed. The ever-twitchy gameplay is still intact. Corners are still things to be feared and need to be conquered with precise timing from the trademark air brakes. A new addition to the WipEout world is the pilot assist system, which prevents your ship from bumping into the walls as violently as usual. This addition works very well and despite some consideration that it is ‘cheating’. Another new addition is the optional use of PS3’s sixaxis to control the pitch, steering or both. The sensitivity can be adjusted and although it requires a steady hand to master it still provides one of the few well-implemented uses for sixaxis. All of this adds up to responsive and tight controls that may put off any newcomers to the series at first, but a progressive learning curve soon has gamers taking corners like pros.
The basic game modes don’t add much on top of what was previously available in the PSP instalments. The main single player content is found in competing in leagues that challenge players to complete an array of zone, tournament, speed laps and single races in order to collect points and unlock the next league. On top of this there is the ‘racebox’ option, which allows the choice of track and game mode as well as split screen two player, a feature which is frustratingly absent from a large amount of games these days. An online mode is also included for good measure and offers the standard options as well as the ‘racebox’ mode. This runs very smoothly and as with all online racers, provides an opportunity to see how good you really compare to real people around the globe.
The vastly improved graphics as well as the inclusion of trophy support, custom soundtracks and future downloadable content is tempting for new gamers to step into the world of WipEout. For a game that seems to be made for the fans it does little to surprise them other than delivering a high definition version of something they already have. That said, it’s still a solid foundation for WipEout on the PS3 and provides a teaser of what will hopefully culminate in the next true continuation of the series.