Giant Bomb Review

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WipEout HD Review

4
  • PS3N

While it feels more like fond memories than the near future, Wipeout HD still delivers plenty of high-speed, techno-laced thrills.


The future!
When I saw Wipeout XL for the first time, I saw the future--and not some far-flung, dilithium-crystal-powered future, but something sooner, and something extrapolated from the world as I knew it. It was all pan-Eurasian corporate sponsors, techno music, and energy drinks, and it was all so frightfully new. My experiences with most other futuristic racing games (save for the criminally underrated Extreme-G III) since then have taught me that my connection with Wipeout XL was a right-place, right-time situation that could not be recreated. Still, 12 years later I still harbor a general fondness for Wipeout, and while the PlayStation Network release of Wipeout HD isn't a mind-expanding experience, it's a slick package that reminds me exactly why I loved Wipeout in the first place.

It's worth noting that Wipeout HD is less a full new entry in the series than it is a high-definition compilation of bits and pieces from Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse for the PSP, which were themselves brimming with designs that dated back to the original Wipeout. While not nearly as exciting as an all-new Wipeout game, the series aesthetic translates to a crisp HD display so well that it's kind of difficult to imagine how the series made do before 1080p. Some of the track designs feel a little safe, and the sleek graphical style loses a bit of its luster when you're not burying the needle, but the ships look sharp and the frame rate is rock-solid. The music of Wipeout XL was as significant as anything else about that game, if not more so. Wipeout HD may not feature huge acts like The Prodigy, Daft Punk, or The Chemical Brothers, but there are still plenty of chilly synths, warbley bass tones, and thumping backbeats to race to.

With so much of its content recycled from past Wipeout games, it's unsurprising that the game doesn't really take many chances with the gameplay. The single-player campaign will throw standard race, time trial, speed lap, tournament, and zone races at you as you work your way up to faster and scarier speed classes. It seems like virtually every memorable team sponsor and ship design from the series has been crammed in here, and in addition to each having unique performance stats, you'll also earn loyalty points whenever you race for that team. Accumulate enough loyalty points for a particular team, and you'll unlock fun extras like different ship skins and classic Wipeout HUD designs, though I found playing Wipeout HD with the old Wipeout XL heads-up to be jarring.

Sadly, no Red Bull this time around.
The game's challenge level reinforces the old-school feel of Wipeout HD, in that it can be quite demanding. If you haven't played a Wipeout game before, get ready for a bit of a learning curve, simply because nothing really handles the way Wipeout does. The futuristic hovercraft you pilot have a floaty quality to them that can make hard turns difficult, something that's compounded by the fact that they can go fast as hell. Wipeout HD offers training wheels in the form of the Pilot Assist feature, which helps you maintain your momentum by automatically steering you away from the walls. The game also features entirely optional SIXAXIS controls, but they are beyond useless after the initial speed class.

If you're an experienced Wipeout player who understands the importance of judicious use of air brakes, you'll probably find the Pilot Assist feature hurts more than it helps. While I firmly believe that negotiating impossibly serpentine tracks with squirrely hovercraft at sci-fi speeds is integral to the Wipeout experience, I'm also not going to begrudge one's desire for a more accessible experience. The problem with Pilot Assist is that you can use it both online and off, and there's no way to filter online races based on whether Pilot Assist is active. You have no way of knowing if the guy that's beating you is just really good, or whether he's under the influence of performance-enhancing robots.

The biggest problem with Wipeout HD is repetition. Eight tracks is a fine start, and a decent value for a game that's being sold for $19.99, but after running them forwards and backwards dozens of times, they can get old, though it's nothing that some DLC couldn't cure. Either way, this is more of a nostalgia trip than a reinvention of the wheel, but it's a well-produced one that might just snag a few new fans along the way.
63 Comments
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Posted by MOARgan

F-Zero FTW

Posted by imayellowfellow

wipeout ftw

Posted by pirate_republic

Nice review Ryan.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

Extreme-G FTW

What?

(This game looks very good. Nice review, as usual)

Posted by mrfluke
nice review man its very brutally honest
Posted by Lepuke

I'm enjoying it actually... and I haven't even played a Wipeout game since the original on the PS1. Which I suppose tilts my opinion of this game since a lot of it feels new.
But, for the price and if you are at least semi-familiar with the game style Wipeout HD is a steal.

Posted by Alphazero

Performance enhancing robot was my nickname in school.

And I influenced people. Oh my, were they ever under my influence.

Posted by Ontheocho

Agreed.  Fantastic game that's eye candy for the ps3.

Posted by chililili

Well I love this game and I find it really good! Although having not played wipeout before makes everythign feel new to me

Posted by MattBodega

Great review as always, Ryan!

Posted by infinitytomorrow

Wipeout wipes the floor with F-Zero

Posted by John

"Wipeout wipes the floor with F-Zero" I guess F-Zero is too hardcore for ya.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Nice. This game looks pretty cool and this review is clear and concise. Like it.

Posted by DJ_Lae

I've been enjoying the game immensely, although I've never played a Wipeout game before.

Also, I played with the driving assist on for a while then turned it off. After a harsh learning curve where I realized that touching walls is a very bad thing, I found that I could make it around the track faster. The driving assist is not helpful when you want to take a corner very close to a wall, as it yanks you sideways and slows you down.

So having said that, I think a skilled player with assists off could easily beat an average player using the driving assist.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

I really dig WipEout HD. I haven't played a Wipeout game since the first, so my Wipeout experience is limited, but something about this one just sits right with me. Getting trophies doesn't hurt (especially I didn't have any before this game).

Posted by Verge

It’s been a long time since I played WipEout, and I never got to play either of the PSP games so this felt very fresh for me. It really has a unique floaty feel, great when you get in to it and I loved the well integrated custom soundtrack support. Fantastic value for money.

Posted by hwarang

Agree with the review for the most part. Although, I think there are quire a few people who haven't played prevous Wipeout games. I'm one of them and this game is a steal for 20 bucks. It looks gorgeous and plays well it will definitely snag new fans. 

Posted by elektrixx

I thought the first Extreme-G was the best of the series.

Posted by radion_null

F-zero for the game cube feels a bit faster than wipeout pure, pusle, or HD., yet Wipeout has a charm that I can't find in F-zero. Then again, Wipeout gets insanely fast as you proceed or when you are playing zone race. I do agree that it gets repetitive but I've stopped player more out of frustration than out of boredom.

Posted by Aaron_G

I never really understood these types of games. I guess I don't like the future. 

Posted by Snipes424

Good review, but your major complaint about the game Ryan is in every single racing game ever made.  How many times did you race on the same track in Forza 2 or GT5?

But all in all, great review.
Posted by Tebbit

Sooooo much better than Wipeout Fusion.

UGHHGHHHH.
Also, the soundtrack is fine, but the original XL soundtrack on my hard drive is better!
Posted by datarez

I'm not sure about Pulse, but don't forget Pure had two free downloadable track packs.  I doubt they will be this time around though.

XL was one of the main reasons I bought the original PS.  It's funny that a $20 download game may be the reason I get a PS3.
Posted by Meltbrain

I don't have a PS3 yet but I do have a PSP but I still haven't played a Wipeout game since Wipeout 3 and the original on the playstation. Man I'm a sucker, I need to get those PSP games and I'm probably gonna try and pick up a PS3 sometime this year so I may just have to get this.

Posted by EPGPX

I want the video review!

Posted by jarryd

having never played a wipeout game before, im very impressed with it and i would now consider myself a fan of the series and look forward to the next full installment

Posted by TheVilrak

I havent played Wipeout since 2097 (XL to non euros) and I absolutely love this version, a total bargain.

Posted by rmanthorp

Nice review! Wipeout was always awesome

Moderator
Posted by SpikeDelight

Very nice review. 1UP was raving about this game but this review seems more on my level of interest. I was going to think about buying this based on the 1UP review but here you do admit that it gets repetitive so maybe I'll wait.

Also, put a butcher knife in Ryan's hand and some heavy backlighting behind him and you have a seriously insane-looking cartoon representation of Ryan. :D

Posted by Dryker
Posted by Shader

I love this game and would personally give it 5 stars, but then again I never played pulse or pure (just the original and 2097).  I can't work that pilot assist thing, I turned it on and it was flinging my ship all over the place. I suspect the folk who win online leave theirs firmly off.  I certainly do and I've won most of my online races.

Posted by Tortoise

Game of the year so far in my opinion. Each speed boost is like a little adrenaline rush and not a lot feels better than air braking just right around those corners. Zone is hypnotically beautiful too.

Posted by get2sammyb

Anyone who hasn't picked this up yet - do so. It's criminally cheap.

Posted by RAYDAFUNK

really good game, enjoying it a lot, the online experience is great, and loads of unlockable stuff. It's a must buy PSN game

Posted by igl

I hope you just can't get a competitive time with the pilot assisting stuff.

Posted by TwoOneFive

very good and fair review!

GS's review ended up making a lot of people not like this game. 
Posted by Kohe321

I'm getting this!

Posted by Kohe321

I'm getting this!

Posted by Scroll

I never got a chance to properly get my teeth stuck into Wipeout, so I'm extremely pleased with my purchase, it's dead cheap and it's all new to me.

Posted by thehamburgler

Great review, hopefully the online community stays active for a long time with this game.

Posted by SLE4ZY

Good review Ryan, but I wont be getting this game

Posted by PLWolf

I just wish I could play it. My PS3 died!! WAAAAAAAAAAAH

Posted by NinjaMunkey

I just got this game and its awsome. I remember when i was younger i had the game for the ps1 and i was rubbish at it. On the psp it was ok but not as good as a console version.

Its great to finaly play this game in all its glory and not do too bad. The zones mode is pure awsome, thetrack seems to move with the music and when you get to super phantom it just gets mental.

Posted by cosmothehound

f-zero. so much more fun.

Posted by PitifullPete

speaking of which. did anyone ever do make a remake of hi-octane. i had so much fun with it on my pc. does wipeout play like hi-octane :D?

Posted by FCKSNAP

I've been playing this game for the past five days and I've never had a custom soundtrack mean so much.

Posted by coonce

wipeout on the psp rocked -- looking fwd to downloading this game this week :)

Posted by Albanian_Killa

Would've loved a video review for this :(

Great review nonetheless!

Posted by AndrewGaspar

I plan on purchasing WipEout HD as soon as I have time to play it. I haven't played a WipEout game before, but the previews and reviews I've read are assuring.

Also, what the hell is up with you guys talking about how amazing Ryan's review was? The last time I checked, a six paragraph critical analysis of a video game does not count as quality literature. Talking about the game is good, but saying Ryan's review was written well is stupid, and you're starting to treat the staff like celebrities, which is dumb.

Posted by CleverLoginName

I wish I did have a PS3 for this, many fond memories of playing Wipeout Pure while ignoring chemistry lectures.... which in retrospect, explains a lot.

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