|Get ready to race at blazing speeds and experience adrenaline-filled, anti-gravity racing action in full-1080p High Definition (HD) running at a breathtaking 60-frames-per-second on PLAYSTATION3 (PS3). Launching in late 2007, Wipeout HD is set to redefine anti-gravity combat racing.
Featuring a selection of the best tracks taken from previous versions of the Wipeout franchise, Wipeout HD offers meticulously crafted and fully reworked tracks that showcase the processing power of PS3. And for the first time, players will have the option to navigate their ships utilizing the SIXAXIS wireless controller's motion sensing technology. Additionally, players will be able to take on the best competition from around the world in online multiplayer modes as up to eight players will be able to compete against each other in a range of online races.
Available exclusively by download on the PLAYSTATIONStore, Wipeout HD will set a new standard for the future of the iconic anti-gravity racing series.
|We thought Wipeout Pulse was great, but a quick glance at the UK charts makes it look as if we might have been the only ones. When it came out in mid-December 2007 on the PlayStation Portable, the game limped into the UK PSP chart at number 20, and it's managed to climb only to number 15 since then. And when it comes to the all-formats chart, it never even entered the top 40. These are worrying signs for Sony, especially considering that the franchise helped launch both the PlayStation and the PlayStation Portable in the West. Thankfully for us, this poor performance hasn't put Sony off the series just yet, and it's readying a PlayStation 3 update for a PlayStation Network version of the series. Wipeout HD, as it's called, will contain tracks, ships, and music from previous games in the series and will polish it off with shiny new 1080p graphics.
Wipeout HD contains eight tracks in all, six from Wipeout Pure and two from Wipeout Pulse. Although their layouts remain the same, the extra power of the PlayStation 3 allows for plenty of visual enhancements to these familiar courses. Another reason to play the PS3 version is the new motion-sensitive control. Long-term Wipeout fans may remember that the series is no stranger to alternative control systems, given that it was compatible with Namco's neGcon controller back in the day. You might think that the floating ships of Wipeout would be a perfect fit for Sixaxis control, but it currently feels loose and unresponsive compared to the standard controls. That said, it has been implemented fairly well, and you can choose to apply motion control to just the pitch of your ship, or to both the pitch and the steering. Sixaxis motion control is set to off by default, but Wipeout fans may get a kick out of trying the control system.
Wipeout makes its debut on the PlayStation 3 with motion-sensitive control, 1080p graphics, and eight-player online play.
Running in 60 frames per second up to 1080p resolution, the game is smooth and detailed, and both factors contribute greatly to the atmosphere of the game. Adverts for racing teams and futuristic products are now much more visible on the track, and background details such as cameras and buildings are much easier to pick out. There are some really nice incidental details too, with the vehicles having a grimier look than we've seen before. We particularly like the ghosts that appear once you set a lap record; they appear on the track thanks to small, floating projection units.
Wipeout HD's visual design is just as sharp as you'd expect from the series. The menu system has a beautiful balance of white space and clean lines, and the race information is presented in an accessible and informative manner. As with Wipeout Pulse, the campaign structure is split into lots of small events, with race types such as Single Race, Speed Lap, Time Trial, and Zone within each category. Single Race pits you against seven other ships, with weapons on the track to pick up and destroy the competition. All the weapons from Wipeout Pulse have been brought over and given a visual makeover, so a hit from a rocket now produces a beautifully honeycombed explosion. The Speed Lap requires you to beat a record time over the course of seven laps, whereas the Time Trial asks you to beat the course under a specific time. The Zone mode isn't new, but it looks better than ever on the PlayStation 3. As you guide a reinforced craft through zones at ever-increasing speeds, the track changes colour while billboards display visualisations for whatever music track you're hearing.
The campaign structure is well set out, and you don't have to place first in every single race to progress; you can even choose to skip some completely if you prefer. There are also other unlockables for completing races, such as new tracks to play in the single-event mode, whereas staying loyal to the same team will unlock new skins for that craft. However, we were unable to see an option to either create or download custom skins from the Wipeout HD Web site at this point.
If you did play Wipeout Pulse, then all of this should sound like familiar territory. In fact, the games even have the same soundtrack, with standout tracks being Mason's "Exceeder," Booka Shade's "Steady Rush," and Kraftwerk's "Aerodynamik." Thankfully, you can also use custom soundtracks in the game by importing tracks into a soundtrack on the PS3's dashboard and creating a playlist. From there, you can choose to listen to your playlist in the order that you created it or randomized.
The photo mode also makes a return, allowing you to pause the action during any race or replay to take a picture. Although the photography options aren't as plentiful as they are in Project Gotham Racing 4, you can add speed blur to your photos, zoom in and out, or opt to show the heads-up display. Once perfected and taken, images are saved onto the PlayStation 3 hard drive as JPEGs that you can edit and export later.
Wipeout HD's photo mode lets you capture images from the game and export them to edit or email later.
Like Wipeout Pulse, HD is a difficult game, with clever enemy opponents that use shortcuts, and some harsh times to beat in the other modes. In another similarity to Pulse, HD's campaign is huge, with eight events consisting of about 6-10 races each. Though we've seen all of the eight tracks and teams in the previous PSP release, downloadable content has been promised. There's no word from Sony yet about whether the new content will cost money, but given that Wipeout Pulse has followed the premium-content route, we'd guess it's inevitable. We can only hope that Sony will do something along the lines of the free sponsored content that they created for Wipeout Pure.
Unfortunately, our preview build of the game didn't feature online play. We understand from Sony that the game will support eight-player online races in the final product, along with leaderboards that show the best lap times and race records. We have no reason to doubt any of those claims, given that Wipeout Pulse on the PSP also has all of those features. Wipeout HD will have a one-up on its handheld brother, though, because the PlayStation 3 supports voice chat online.
Our build of Wipeout HD was clearly approaching a finished state, and there were relatively few bugs to be seen. The only problems that we encountered were the occasional bits of slowdown when a lot of ships were onscreen, and one funny bug on the Chenghou Project track that let us crash into a magical billboard to complete a lap. There's still plenty of time for Sony to fix all of this before the game is released on the PlayStation Network sometime in the next three months.