Product Type: Sony PS3 games
Newest Review: ... then Wipeout HD is a must-have download that offers hours and hours of racing fun. It's a fitting way to remember Psygnosis/Sony Liverp... more
Thankfully, Paul Daniels and Bob Monkhouse are Nowhere to be Seen
Wipeout HD (PS3)
Member Name: SWSt
Wipeout HD (PS3)
Advantages: Blisteringly fast, great updated HD graphics
Disadvantages: Punishing difficulty levels
It's no secret that the Wipeout franchise has been an important one for Sony, acting as a launch title for pretty much every console since the original Playstation. With the recent sad demise of developers Sony Liverpool (more properly known to veteran gamers as Psygnosis), now seems an appropriate time to review the game in its PS3 incarnation.
Wipeout HD Fury is a futuristic racing game. Races take place on elevated tracks in spaceships that hover above the track and reach incredible speeds. You must hurtle along, avoiding obstacles, trackside barriers or other racers and finish in as high a position as possible.
On initial release Wipeout wowed PS1 owners with its stunning graphics, pumping techno soundtrack and incredible speed. Although I'd heard a lot about the franchise, though, I'd never actually played a Wipeout game until I downloaded this PS3 version.
Whilst this shares common ground with a lot of previous versions, it is no lazy port and the PS3 version has been lovingly rebuilt from the ground up. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the crisp, clean graphics which look fantastic. They are brilliantly designed to create an exciting atmosphere. The neon flashing lights, twisting tracks and various bits of scenery really help to recreate the excitement of race day. Crucially, the game is fast; blisteringly fast. There is a real sensation of speed and danger as you hurtle along the tracks at death-defying pace. No matter how fast you are going, or how much activity there is on screen, the PS3 copes with it all effortlessly, producing really fluent images.
Where I did have an issue was with the track layout. Some of the tracks (particularly on later levels) can be really twisty and windy; and there is so much going on at any one time that trying to pick out what is track and what is background can be rather tricky. There were several times when I found myself crashing into barriers simply because I thought the track went one way, when in fact, it turned in the opposite direction. This is particularly a problem because game is so fast, giving you very little time to react or correct a mistake.
And making a mistake in Wipeout can be fatal to your chances of winning. Wipeout HD Fury is hard. Brutally hard. It makes no apologies for it and from what I gather, it has been this way since the outset. One small crash or one missed Speed Boost Pad can cost you any chance of victory on some tracks. It is a game that is meant to challenge you; a game where when you get an achievement or win a race it's because you have earned it, not because you have learned how to turn your console on. This difficulty level that will make or break the game for you.
The good news is that the controls are easy to pick up and highly responsive, so at least you are only battling the track layout, blistering pace and high difficulty level. And don't also have to wrestle with awkward or non-intuitive controls at the same time!
If you accept it for the challenge that it is, then Wipeout HD Fury is going to offer you a massive amount of gaming time. With 28 different tracks to race and over 50 achievements to gain, it's not a game that you will finish in a hurry. Of course, if you find it too frustratingly difficult then you're not going to finish it at all. In fact, you possibly will barely even get started.
Personally, I tend to play Wipeout HD in bursts. I'll play it for ages, really enjoying it and then I'll hit a difficulty spike and find a track I just can't do and put it down in frustration. Such is the addictive nature of the gameplay, though, that I find myself returning to it after a while and enjoying it once more. Fun and frustrating in equal measure: that pretty much sums up Wipeout HD Fury.
Throw in several different game modes, split screen two player racing and online gaming with up to 8 players (which I haven't used, but is reportedly lag free) and Wipeout has the potential to keep you occupied for a VERY long time.
"But SWSt" I hear you cry "you haven't mentioned the sound yet". Well, no. I'm leaving that till last because I'm going to be a bit controversial. After everything everyone has said about the music over the years, I expected more. Yes, the pumping, pulsating music really gets you in the mood for racing and captures the adrenalin-fuelled atmosphere perfectly. Yes, the sound effects are great with the roaring engines, screams of metal as you crash and other sound effects adding to that atmosphere. But... is it really that different from other racing games? In a way, Wipeout is a victim of its own success. It became the benchmark against which other racing game soundtracks were judged. They all copied Wipeout's style and success to the extent that Wipeout no longer sounds unique. It sounds great; but not unique.
Available as a digital download, Wipeout HD Fury is not the cheapest game on the PSN, costing around £12 for Wipeout HD and a further £8 if you also want to unlock the Fury pack. Of course, if you're a fan of the Wipeout franchise, then this is cheap when you consider the price of the original games, and well worth paying. If you're not sure, then I'd recommend you just download Wipeout HD to start with - you can always buy the Fury expansion pack later on. Just be aware that you do need quite a bit of space on your PS3's Hard Disk: the Fury pack alone takes up around 700MB.
If you are prepared to put up with the punishing difficulty level and occasional frustrations over the graphics, then Wipeout HD is a must-have download that offers hours and hours of racing fun. It's a fitting way to remember Psygnosis/Sony Liverpool.
© Copyright SWSt 2013
Summary: Farewell Psygnosis, You will be sorely missed.
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