|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE Studios Liverpool||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Barrel rolling and side shifting can help turn the tables during races. If you hit a high enough jump, you can trade shield power to perform a roll that, once landed, gives your ship a huge boost. Performed at the right time, it can slingshot you past other races. Side shifting, a simple move that quickly slides your ship to the right or left, is actually quite valuable. If you're neck-and-neck with an opponent you can push them toward a long curve, slamming them to an abrupt stop. Shifting can also be a defensive measure. If you hear a weapon warning, you can shift at the last second to avoid rocket fire or a trail of mines.
Time and speed trials help you get the lay of courses, figuring out the best routes, and single races offer an excellent mix of speed and weaponized strategy, but one mode steals the show: Zone. This mode - which debuted in WipEout Fusion on the PlayStation 2 - is easily the most insane of the bunch. The rules are simple: your ship auto accelerates and all you have to do is to steer, trying to survive as long as possible. There's a catch though. After you pass through each ten-second area, your racer's speed goes up another notch. It quickly goes from a calm affair to a white knuckle situation. It's all compounded by a psychedelic visual filter that continually strips away one set of colors and replaces it with another, drenching the entire screen in delirious colors.
Zone mode may pop the most visually, but it doesn't overshadow the game's overall presentation. From the meticulous menu design to the 1080p visuals, WipEout HD is one of those titles that you use to show off your system. Probably the greatest visual feat is the framerate never dips below 60, keeping the action silky smooth. HD doesn't top WipEout XL for best-in-the-series soundtrack, but that doesn't mean it can't hold its own. Tracks by artists like Kraftwerk provide thumping bass and intricate layering of digitized instruments. HD includes custom soundtrack support, so you can listen to any music you have stored on your hard drive while you play. So, if you miss tracks from past games, you can rip them and you've got the perfect WipEout soundtrack.
Online play provides plenty of frantic action for up to eight players. A nice feature is that players can design tournaments, setting up a custom list of tracks, turning weapons on or off, and tweaking the speed class. Probably the most impressive feature of online play is that, when tested for review, none of the races exhibited any lag. Those with two controllers can do split screen play, so you can get your multiplayer fix offline as well.
WipEout HD is a remix in the most proper sense - it takes what made the series popular, gives it an ample layer of polish, and slaps on a hard-to-resist price tag. Most $60 games don't provide such a great experience; the fact that HD does so at a third of the price is a testament to Sony Liverpool's talent.
CCC Freelance Writer