WipEout HD Review (Updated)
Every now and then a sequel like WipEOut comes along forcing its way through the demonic denizes of gamedom to shine far above the idea of an upgrade. WipEout HD, if anything, is an upgrade and a damn good one.
Whether it was the first incarnation of the series, the PS version, or the newer PSP versions, everyone has a soft spot for this title. In my eyes, HD takes the best of Pure and Pulse, and amps up everything (minus a few tracks here and there).
Visually this game speaks for itself. Only one other title comes close to the level of presentation on the PS3. That title is Ridge Racer. The title employs an interesting technique called Frame rate Buffering to handle those intense fire fights that occur these days in the series. Colors are lively, strong, punchy, and always crisp and clear. So what? This technique makes it possible for the game to run at 1080p 60 frames per second … all the time off-line and online.
This makes work put in by artist like Rita Linsley shine even more. She was responsible for putting together the most amazing race stages ever seen by these eyes. Her approach to the Zone Mode races cannot be appreciated in any image posted on the internet. Nicely done.
The UI in WipeOut has always been clean, and carried that uber techno feel that no other title can do well. One complaint I have about the interface is that it’s hard to read at first; especially when you go online for the first time. Several times I created my Phantom class room and even though the UI tells you the class, stage, and details for the room, it seems to be down right hard to read (especially for New Comers). People kept coming into my room and promptly left after they experienced the amazing speed of Phantom on Sol 2. HUD wise, the new version is not bad but for those of us were picky about that during the demo version, SCEE went in an added some of the classic HUDs from previous series.
The default soundtrack for the title is made up of a select few of those titles that appeared in the Pure and Pulse series. Fans knew ahead of time what was going to happen; there favorite tracks would probably be left out and in some cases weren’t included to begin with. Who’s to blame you if you think that Young Jezzy should be played with WipEout; heck I run Elephant Man, Capleton, Thievery Corporation, and several others with mines. The ability to select your own music is a thing that all games should have. Gamers enjoy the effort that music directors put into game OSTs but sometimes a complete track list customized by yours truly fits the bill even better.
In addition to the music, all the weapons, clicks, beeps, weeps, and meeps are timed great. I’ll never get tired of hearing Caroline Bersteins’ or Nicholas Jones voices. That little reminder of a perfect lap, or the “gold medal awarded” announcement never gets old. These two should be made the defactor voiceover team for the series.
If there was one thing I was concerned about was the online component. With the past announcement that only 8 players would make it for online bouts, you couldn’t help but wonder if the lag whore would show her ugly face. Fear not, the game runs just as smooth online as it does off. However, a few users here and there with exceedingly large friends lists (over 100) seem to be experiencing crashes during online play. No word on the friends list being the direct cause of the problem though. Since day one, I have not experienced any problems.
Some gamers are torn between getting this title and Burnout Paradise. My opinion, get both. Both of these titles are very good at what they do. The only thing that is missing from WipEout at this time is Downloadable Content; a staple of the PSP series given to gamers for FREE. However, at the rate at which this title is selling on PSN, I’m sure Buckley and crew would visit the scene a few more times for a price. Additions like the camera mode are great and the $19.99 price tag almost seem unfair … to SCEE.