It is difficult to say what the future holds for racing games. We have come a long way from the top down track games of old. Each generation of gaming has it is own generation of racing games, all unique to the systems capabilities. One franchise that’s managed to survive through 4 generations of consoles is the Wipeout series. A series that has withstood the test of time, and even in this generation of high definition it has found a place it can call home. “WipEout HD” is a futuristic combat racing game, known for it is flashy graphics and high speed gameplay. Most games of this style however, may have a strong draw but get boring rather quick and are known to become repetitive. There are a lot of factors that can make or break Wipeout HD.
One of the first things you will notice with Wipeout is it is stunning and outlandish graphics. The HD moniker was no lie. The graphics are among some of the best I’ve seen on the PS3, and there is so much going on, it is almost easy to get distracted while in the middle of a race. All of the tracks are remastered from the two previous PSP games, but by looking at them you’d never know they were originally from a portable system. One of the game modes features massive light effects that are so brilliant they’re absolutely seizuretastic. And because this game is run entirely off your PlayStations hard drive, there is never even a hint of slowdown.
Always a main staple to any racing series is the design of the vehicles. The ships in this game do look fantastic. They’re design is somewhat simplistic, but it adds to the feel of the game that you’re in a stripped out race machine. And many of the weapons that you acquire while racing all have unique and usually flashy design. And as you use certain enough, you unlock new paintjobs for your team.
One thing that’s always been a big seller for Wipeout is it is electronica sound track. Where ever you go in the game, there is always a heavy rhythmic beat pushing you along. A first for the franchise however, is the ability to turn this music off and listen to your own music from the PlayStation menu.
One of the weak points for the game however is the vehicle sounds. They do the job fine, but they’re pretty generic. Every ship sounds exactly the same, and there is not much of a noise difference between half throttle and full sometimes leaving you going considerably slower than you should be. Most of the weapons do sound brilliant however. Between the firing of a machine gun or the cracking rumble of the earth quake there is always something to grab your attention. Now there is some vocals that come up while you’re driving. A computerized voice that gives you some race updates and warns you of weapons that are being used around you. It is pretty minimal and does not hurt the flow of the game like most voice acting does. Unfortunately both the sound effects and the speech are on the same volume switch, so if it really does bother you, you’re stuck with it.
As with all racing games, the ability to control your craft properly is number one on the to do list. Most games end up either feeling sluggish, always leaving the vehicle to catch up with your commands or are so sensitive that minor steering adjustments leave you flailing into the wall. The controls on this game are extremely balanced and very rarely leaving you feel like you’re out of control, well at first that is. As you play, the speed class is increased and as you would guess, up goes the difficulty as well. The tracks seem open and somewhat easy to maneuver (there is even a mode to help keep beginners on the track), but as the speed increases those wide friendly corners turn into sharp and scary ones. This is probably among the best features of the game, reason being if you’re not a high speed race nut, but still want to troll around a bit you’re not left out of the action.
The game modes consist of a campaign mode, racebox mode and online. The race box mode is simply just an arcade mode that allows you to customize races for your self. The real game lies in it is campaign mode. This is where ships and tracks are unlocked and where the real challenges lie. Thankfully, the difficulty curve in the campaign mode is rather gradual, so you’re not starting the game off to a bad foot. As you play, each event gets harder and harder. As you near the midpoint, there is actually a point where it becomes important to actually practice to be able to keep up with the npc’s. By the time you at the final even, the difficulty can be pretty frustrating, but that’s to be expected in the top class. When it comes to the online mode, there is really nothing special to mention. It is nothing but the race box, but with real people as you’re opponents. You can hook up with friends and use voice chat as you drive, but nothing really over the top.
There is one particular race mode that deserves special mention and that’s Zone mode. This unique racing mode is for the midnight ravers out there. You are put into a generic vehicle put onto one of the courses with all the main features and textures stripped out of it, instead having a flashing light show and equalizers going. As you drive, you start out at the slowest speed setting and gradually increase as you drive through the particular zone. You are required to drive through a certain amount of zones in order to complete the event, and you keep going until you run out of energy and blow up. It is pretty intense and a lot of fun.
Wipeout HD is honestly one of the best new racing games to come out in a long time. Not just for the fact that it is pretty and plays well, but because they didn’t spend all this time hyping it up as the worlds best racer and dropping the ball like so many others. They set out to make a good fun game with some added bells and whistles for a reasonable price and succeeded. It is not the worlds most advanced game, nor does it have nearly as many vehicle or track selection as some racers. But it contains that fun factor that seems to be lost in so many new games. And if you’re skeptical, you can try the demo and see for yourself.
BUY IT IF:
If you like high speed racing games with lot with some added kicks.
If you want a smooth fun and fast paced game for a reasonable price.
RENT IT IF:
If you do not like racing games.