Friday, September 26, 2008

WipEout HD Review

WipEout HD, first announced back at E3 '07, is the latest entry in the venerable WipEout franchise. The game is from Studio Liverpool, the same team that brought us the excellent WipEout Pure and WipEout Pulse games for the PSP. In fact, WipEout HD is largely a remix of those two games.

For starters, there are 8 tracks in WipEout HD. Four of them are from the WipEout Pure disc. Two of them were from the WipEout Pure downloadable content. And the final two are from WipEout Pulse. The 12 racing teams and their ship desings are all from WipEout Pulse. And even the piddly nine music tracks actually make up a little over half of WipEout Pulse's soundtrack.

The single player campaign plays out much like WipEout Pulse as well. The game is divided into events, and each event has a certain number of races laid out in a series of cells. Races come in several types. There's your tradition WipEout races where you grab weapons and compete with a number of other racers to be the first to cross the finish line. Zone is a where you slowly accelerate and see how long you can survive before you crash into enough walls that you run out of energy. Fastest Lap events five you seven laps to try to set a gold medal time. Time trials are a standard race, but against the clock instead of other ships. And tournaments are a number of races strung together where you compete for points. Clearing races with at least a broze medal will open the cells around you, and give you 1, 2, or 3 points based on your medal. When you have enough points, you'll unlock the next event.

You might be reading this and noticing that this is a smaller WipEout. Fewer tracks and less music than either Pure or Pulse, fewer teams than Pure, and no new content. As you notice this, you might be asking yourself why you wouldn't just play the PSP games and be done with it.

The best answer I can give is because it's not the PSP, it's the PS3. Online mutliplayer with voice chat. Local splitscreen two player. Simply stunning high-definition visuals that make even the PSP games look like garbage. 5.1 surround sound. In-game music effects (the lighting on Zone races pulses to the beat). Trophy support. There's even SIXAXIS support, should you choose to use it (the WipEout purist in me says no). Custom soundtracks (which means that I'll trade the game's soundtrack for, oh, I dunno, EVERY WipEout soundtrack thus far). And the fact that it's just a lot more comfortable to play WipEout with a big stationary screen in front of you that's not physically connected to your controller.

Well, that and the fact that it's only $20, and you don't even have to go to the store to get it.

Honestly, my only complaint (as I mentioned in my earlier impressions) is that I was sorta hoping that there'd be more stuff from the earlier WipEout games, like Manor Top and the Mega Mall from Wip3out, or Katmoda 12 from Fusion. However, developers have promised there will be more content available for WipEout HD in the form of DLC, so there's still hope for some classic tracks.

Anyway, for $20, there's plenty of WipEout goodness to be had here, and the promise of DLC really makes it hard for me to fault WipEout HD.

Final Score: A

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