WipEout HD • Page 2

Back on track.

More interesting is the option to just use the motion sensing to control the pitch of your craft. Fly off a ramp, and lifting the joypad raises the nose of your ship. If you're one of those players who sways in their seat while playing a racing game, chances are you'll be doing this anyway - so it feels completely intuitive.

For those who are new to WipEout there's now Pilot Assist, a passive auto-pilot function which nudges you away from track edge. It sounds like a cheat, but it's actually a cleverly balanced little feature. If you race like a lunatic, it won't do you much good and you'll still clang and scrape your way around the circuits. It's less of a sop for rubbish players and more of a gentle helper for intermediate players.

If you're racing well, but haven't quite mastered the air brakes yet, Pilot Assist will pick up some of the slack. Rely on it in the higher speed categories, however, and you'll soon discover its deliberate limitations. Given how uncompromising the series has often been, it's a thoughtful way of opening the game out to newcomers without trashing the delicate racing balance.

This balance is important, since WipEout HD comes with a bunch of multiplayer options. Local split-screen play is a feature that too many games have ditched in this bold new online age, so it's nice to see it retained here - and with no noticeable effect on the frame rate.

Of course online play is also supported, although it is perhaps the one area that feels slightly undercooked. Up to eight racers can take part, but your choices are limited to single races or tournaments only. Competitive modes from the PSP such as Elimination are conspicuous by their absence.

insane

It's really only by studying the HD snapshots that you appreciate the insane levels of detail in both ships and scenery.

Then there's Photo Mode, which can be activated during the automatic replay at the end of each race. Tap the square button and you can skip from one ship to another, and save your own screenshots. The options are numerous - you change the exposure, saturation, lens focus and add effects such as depth of field or add motion blur to the track or ships. Shots are automatically saved at full 1920x1080 resolution in your console's Photo folder for easy sharing. The only downside is there's no way of rewinding or forwarding the replay from within the Photo Mode itself, so finding a specific moment to capture involves too much trial and error.

But in the end, it all comes down to impact. With its cool, clean design and mixture of chilled ambience and frantic action, WipEout has always been at the heart of the PlayStation brand - so it makes sense that all the stops have been pulled out to make this HD debut something truly stunning.

The extra effort has paid off. The result is a game that commands your attention, ruthlessly hauling your eyes into the flatscreen while tickling your brain with impeccable track design and spine-snapping speeds. Sackboy may be the new face of PlayStation, but the console just hasn't been the same without WipEout. It's great to have it back.

9 / 10

Read the Eurogamer.net review policy WipEout HD Dan Whitehead Back on track. 2008-09-15T13:00:00+01:00 9 10

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