wipEout HD Fury
Ever wonder what would happen if F-Zero and Mario Kart had a baby? Such is the best way to describe the Wipeout games in a nutshell. Essentially, it takes the ultra futuristic motif and the breakneck speed from F-Zero, and combines it with the chaotic carnage of Mario Kart, in the form of items. If that sounds uber awesome, that is because it is, my friend. Now lets play with this baby.
For the PlayStation 3, downloadable via the PlayStation Network, Wipeout HD is essentially an amalgamation of the two Wipeout games on the PSP, Pure and Pulse. It takes powerups, music, tracks and ships from both games, puts it on PS3 and it's all in high def, with a flashy menu interface. What more could you ask for? I would say this game definately is not complete without the Fury expansion pack. Said expansion pack adds Eliminator mode, another campaign, as well as Zone Battle, more ships, and more tracks to race on.
Graphically, it isn't called HD for nothing; the game really does live up to its namesake. The lighting and texturing are so well done that it would be relatively easy to mistake the game for being something live action if you didn't know any better. I am not even sure the screenshots do it justice. Graphics are relatively important in racing games, and Sony/Liverpool really seemed to take this into consideration; the scenery surrounding the racetracks are simply breathtaking. From the sunny, serene paradise of Vineta K, to the perilous icy summit of Sebenco Climb, it all looks so surreal that you can almost feel the environment.
What's a racing game without an adrenalin inducing soundtrack to get you pumped? HD Fury also delivers on this. The amazing array of techno tracks manages to simultaneously be exciting and relaxing. As a techno fan, it has introduced me to some new artists, as the soundtracks of these games are usually comprised of songs sampled from actual techno artists and remixed for the game. The sound effects, in coalition with the great utilization of the PS3's remote technology, add another layer of authenticity. Your controller rumbles a little as your ship charges up a plasma blast, along with the great sound effect for it, and then the rumble fades out as you fire the blast to make it that much more satisfying. Your ship also has a computer system that alerts you of happenings while you race such as incoming enemy projectiles, what lap you are on, when your energy is low, etc.
So now that the aesthetics are out of the way, let's talk about the substance. Offline, you can play Wipeout HD alone or with one friend via splitscreen multiplayer. It's a shame you can't play with up to three other friends offline, but my guess is that the framerate would suffer as a result. It does seem to feel just a tad choppier just playing splitscreen, so that's most likely why it doesn't support four man competitions. If you are Forever-Alone, fear not. The game has a pretty robust single player campaign, but of course the main livelihood of games like this is online multiplayer, which I will come to soon. As for the single player, Wipeout HD sports a single player campaign that consists of a series of grids. Each grid has about 10 or more cells where each cell represents a different racing event. Ideally, the object here is to complete each grid preferrably with a Gold score. The Fury expansion pack adds another set of grids, along with new types of events.
The racing in Wipeout generally comes in four flavors: Venom, Flash, Rapier, and Phantom. As you probably deduced, each one represents a speed class that gradually gets faster and faster. Newcomers are best off starting in the bottom two speed classes of course. Speaking of which, the game is very friendly to newbies. In fact, it's arguably too friendly, as there is a new feature designed for inexperienced players that has caused a bit of controversy in the Wipeout community: Pilot Assist. Oh I can hear the groans now. Basically, Pilot Assist on your ship is like training wheels. It makes it impossible to crash into the walls because it automatically jerks you away from them. While this is a reasonable feature to include as a way of being considerate towards newcomers, the frustration stems from the fact that this feature is allowed online. And believe me, some players have no shame about racing online with Pilot Assist enabled ships, which is arguably cheating. However, Pilot Assist somewhat slows you down since you don't have as much freedom of movement (does not allow for sharp turns, etc.). So for newcomers, it would be in your best interests to take off the proverbial training wheels as soon as possible.
Being that Wipeout is a very combat oriented racer (though the option to turn items off and race in Items Off lobbies online is there), there are many powerups to pick up on the track to hassle your competition. Of course, if you're going to have a racer with power ups, then it only makes sense to have an Eliminator mode (only available with the Fury expansion pack). There are also a slew of other modes that come with the Fury expansion pack which is why I am emphasizing that for the greatest possible experience with the game, it is very neccessary to pick up.
If you are a futuristic racing fan who likes games like F-Zero, Wipeout is definately up your alley. If you are a PS3 owner looking for all the must haves, here's one of them. You get alot of bang for your buck with this game, and with all there is to do you will not get bored.
+Pleasing roster of ship models from the two PSP installments
+Plethora of game modes
+Excellent online experience
+Good single player campaign
-Pilot Assist allowed online
Overall grade: A
Reviews you can trust.