WipEout has long been a PlayStation franchise that is known throughout the world. Back in the day it was probably the most popular PlayStation title around, in fact it was one of the main games that actually sold the PlayStation and placed it on the gaming map. I wasn’t surprised to hear that WipEout HD, the Playstation 3’s version of the game, was exclusive to Sony once again. I was surprised to hear, however, that it’s only a Playstation Network downloadable game. Maybe Sony have started to lose faith in the title and decided to delegate it to a PSN download only? Or maybe the game’s not worthy of a full Blu-ray Disc?
Well the answer to both of the above questions is no, simply because Wipeout HD is far beyond any PSN title already on the network and is probably one of the best looking PSN titles ever – maybe even one of the best looking titles on the PS3 full stop. The franchise has really set itself up on handhelds more than full-on consoles recently, but to see WipEout in full 1080p High-Definition is quite stunning. The tracks glisten with an amazing futuristic feel, and the ships hold visually pleasing textures worthy of a digital king.
We’ve only got preview code to play on, but even that has given us a taste of the game in most of its glory. Sadly there is no online play in the preview code, although there will be in the full game. Despite this, it appears that Wipeout HD will have plenty of tracks, events and game modes to keep you going offline. Included in these features is the Zone mode. This mode was pushed mainly on the PSP versions of WipEout, but it’s made an appearance on the PS3. The mode puts you on the track on your own and you’re required to race around. As you cover ground, the “zone” will change, and your ship will gradually increase speed. The goal is to cover as many zones as you can before your ship gives-in to the speed and powers down.
This mode has really been used to utilize the power of the PS3 however and it’s a prime example of the superb graphical ability of the console. The track you’re on is totally changed in terms of the look, giving a colourful element to the environment that changes as you progress through the zones. Couple that with the dance/trance music banging on behind you and you’ve got yourself a great mode.
One addition to the game that isn’t seen on the PSP iterations is the inclusion of SIXAXIS control. It seems since the PS3’s launch, there hasn’t really been a game that has been able to master the SIXAXIS control scheme, simply because it’s so hard to control. WipEout HD has tried its best to change that, but sadly it’s still the same. You can either use the tilt function for just your ships pitch or you can go the full hog and use it for steering. The pitch aspect is fine, but if you try your hand at the full on steering, you’ll find yourself all over the road like a drunk granny on crack.
If you manage to humble yourself enough to stick to the classic control method, you’ll soon find yourself whipping around corners the way you want to. The air brakes are set to the back shifts, allowing for a more natural feel as you drift around the corners. Along with that, you can control your steering with the analogue, which again is a welcome change from the rather uncomfortable PSP analogue stick.
When we eventually get our grubby mitts on the full game, we’ll be blessed with five game modes (Single Race, Tournament, Time Trial, Speed Lap and Zone), 11 weapons (Quake, Mines, Rockets, Missile, Plasma, Bomb, Cannon, Auto Pilot, Shield, Turbo and Leech Beam) and eight tracks (Vineta-K, Anulpha Pass, Chenghou Project, Metropia, Moa Therma, Sebenco Climb, Sol 2 and Ubermall). Although that may not sound like much, it’s actually quite a lot to keep you going.
There is also the rather impressive Photo Mode in WipEout HD. During any race you can pause the game and snap a photo of your race. You have total control over the camera, including the angle, zoom and which ship to focus on. The photo is then saved as JPEG in the PS3 hard-drive, so you can share those with friends online, or transfer them to your PSP or PC.
If you already own the PSP version of WipEout, you’ll probably be familiar with most of WipEout HD’s content, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be worth getting – in fact, quite the opposite. The full High-Definition visuals and intense addictive gameplay makes this title one that we’re sure will push the PS3s sales, just as it did in 1995. We can’t wait for the review code.