WipEout HD

Back on track.

Version tested PlayStation 3

WipEout HD has left me agitated and dissatisfied. Before the usual suspects scamper off to post a comment, with their PS3lols at the ready, perhaps I should clarify. WipEout HD has left me agitated and dissatisfied because the crisp 1080p visuals and rock solid 60fps presentation have made me realise just how compromised the Great HD Gaming Revolution has been.

We've become so accustomed to accepting 720p resolutions and mostly stable 30fps frame rates as the best we can expect that when something really does take full advantage of the display technology available, it can't help make everything else look like a half measure.

In other words, WipEout HD looks f**king phenomenal.

I'm usually the last person to care about the minutiae details of a game's technical presentation, provided the experience is fun. I'm also a firm believer that gameplay is vastly more important than graphics. Yet with WipEout HD the presentation and graphics are arguably the most important elements, since the gameplay is mostly a known quantity - with tracks and features ported across from WipEouts Pure and Pulse on the PSP.

For this generously priced PS3 version (it's GBP 11.99), you get eight tracks culled from the two PSP titles, Pure and Pulse, both of which caused Tom to excitedly rub oily 9/10s all over their firm oak-like thighs. Vineta K, Anulpha Pass, Chengou Project, Sebenco Climb, Ubermall and Sol 2 all appear from WipEout Pure, and are joined by Moa Therma and Metropia from WipEout Pulse. More are planned as downloadable extras, of course.

photo

All the screenshots in this review were taken and tweaked using the game's own Photo Mode software.

Progression through the campaign mode also takes it cue from Pulse, with a hexagonal grid structure opening up access to adjacent events as you win medals. The campaign is broken down into eight events ranging from Uplift (easy-peasy) to Meltdown (ohmygodwhatshappening) with each new event unlocking as you earn enough points.

Control is exactly as you'd expect, with acceleration and airbrakes still your twin lifelines in the rough and tumble world of high speed futuristic racing. Memorising and hitting the turbo pads remains the key to success. Learning which ramps and jumps can be used to pull off a speed-boosting barrel roll can be the difference between gold and bronze. Weapon deployment is mapped to the square button, while circle allows you to absorb unwanted weapons to repair ship damage.

You can also make use of the optional Sixaxis motion sensing feature, and the game can lay claim to being one of the first PS3 titles to find a truly intuitive use for the function. Motion control comes in two flavours - pitch and steering, or just pitch. Opt for the former and tilting the joypad controls the entire craft. It's fiendishly difficult, if only because it's an entirely new way of playing.

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