Review: Wipeout HD

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It took an absurdly long time to make release, but at long last Wipeout HD has launched for download on the PS3 PlayStation Network and boy was it ever worth the wait!

At $20 Wipeout HD has the price of a budget racer, but the quality and value it has to offer is easily equivalent to that of a full-priced Blu-ray production. Sure, the game is essentially a “Greatest Hits” compilation of tracks, rides and modes from past Wipeout games, including numerous similarities to the recent (and stellar) PSP installment Wipeout Pulse, but with so much content of such high, polished quality you won’t find me complaining too much.

Wipeout HD, like all previous titles, is an anti-gravity space combat racer of the highest caliber. The sense of speed is blistering and the flight/control physics are nothing short of absolute precision. Now in HD, that sense of speed has been amped up another notch, and the flash and pizzazz of the graphics has been taken to unprecedented new heights, almost to the point where it borderlines becoming too fast and too flashy for its own good.

This may just be a personal thing, but I found it difficult to play the game for long stretches as the constant barrage of trippy visualizers and blur effects actually began to make my eyes hurt after a few races. There was a rumor floating around before release that the game was taking so long to come out because it was failing epilepsy tests. I doubt that was true, but now having played the game it’s not as far fetched as I once thought.

Unlike a lot of games that rely on extreme flashiness to get by, Wipeout HD has the substance to back up its style. The game offers eight gorgeous tracks, 12 exquisitely detailed ships (each with three unlockable skins), five event types (Single Race, Time Trial, Speed Lap, Zones and Tournament), a Racebox mode for quick-playing races by yourself or split-screen with a friend, an eight-tiered campaign that goes something like 70-80 events deep, and eight-player online play that runs smooth as silk. This is enough to keep you playing until the next Wipeout comes along.

On top of all that, Wipeout HD incorporates all the bells and whistles you’d typically only expect from a $60 PS3 release. Trophies, custom soundtracks, voice chat, photo mode, rumble support, and even Sixaxis motion control (though as usual standard analog stick control is the best way to go) are all included. There are hyped PS3 exclusives coming out right now that don’t have half of these features, so to see it all in a $20 PSN download game is quite remarkable.

Wipeout HD achieves the harmonious blend of speed, style, controllability and depth that all racing games strive for but few are ever actually able to pull off. It really is Wipeout to the extreme. Buy this game right now!

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Pros:
+ Crisp, crystal-clear HD graphics
+ Exhilarating sense of speed locked in at a constant 60 fps
+ Rich with modes and features
+ Smooth, intuitive controls
+ Great music and futuristic audio

Cons:
– Recycled content from past games
– All the flashy, fast-moving effects can be tough on the eyes

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN Download
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: SCEE Studio Liverpool
Release Date: 9/25/08
Genre: Racing
ESRB Rating: E10+
Players: 1-8 (online and two-player split-screen)

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!