Cover art for the disc version of Wipeout HD/Fury
|Developer(s)||SCE Studio Liverpool|
|Release date(s)||PlayStation Network
Wipeout HD (trademarked and stylised as WipEout HD), is the eighth title in the Wipeout racing video game series, developed and published by Sony Liverpool for the PlayStation 3 console. The game marks the Wipeout franchise's debut on PlayStation 3 and was available exclusively as a downloadable title from the PlayStation Store; it is now available on Blu-ray disc packaged with the Fury expansion as of 16 December 2009. While the game borrows its tracks and teams from the PlayStation Portable games Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse, the content has been upgraded for the game to render up to 1080p and at 60 frames per second with a Dolby 5.1 surround soundtrack.
The game was released on 25 September 2008 in EU and US territories, and in Japan on 29 October 2008. Wipeout HD and its expansion (Wipeout HD Fury) were released on Blu-ray on 16 October 2009 in Europe. Wipeout HD, along with its Fury expansion pack, was also chosen as a free PS3 offering as part of Sony's "Welcome Back" program due to the PlayStation Network outage.
Gameplay is largely similar to that of previous Wipeout titles. The player pilots an anti-gravity craft, selected from one of several teams and, depending on the game mode, competes using speed and weaponry in an attempt to beat the competition.
There are five main race types in Wipeout HD: Single Race, Tournament, Speed Lap, Time Trial, and Zone mode. Single Race is a straightforward start-to-finish race against seven other competitors, while Tournament is a series of consecutive races won by having the highest aggregate score. In the Speed Lap and Time Trial modes, the player races alone in an attempt to beat the clock. Finally, the unique Zone mode, first introduced in Wipeout Fusion, automates the player's acceleration control, progressively moving the craft at higher speeds. As the player's craft automatically passes through higher "zones", or categories of speed, the player must continue to navigate the course until their energy runs out and the ship explodes. The audio/visual atmosphere during Zone mode differs greatly from regular play. The environments are stripped of texture and are replaced by simple colour palettes that change as the player reaches new zones. Graphic equalizers appear on the race course and in the surrounding scenery, displaying waveforms for the currently playing audio track.
Each race type can be found in the single-player Campaign mode, which is a series of 87 different race scenarios. As the player progresses from easier events to harder ones, tracks and teams are unlocked for use in the separate Racebox mode, in which players can play one-off arcade-style races, either in single-player or two player split-screen modes. Whereas gameplay settings in Campaign mode are predetermined, they are completely customisable to the player in Racebox mode.
In addition to offline play, Wipeout HD offers an eight-player online mode. A lobby system allows players to search for and join either Single Races or Tournament races. Should a player's ship explode in an online race, the player's craft will reappear on the track moments later (as opposed to forcing the player to drop out of the race as in offline play). Voice chat is also supported.
A new introduction to the series is the Pilot Assist feature. Intended for players who are new to the series, it is a passive auto-piloting feature that assists players by nudging them away from the edges of the track or from the walls, though its effects at higher speed settings are less desirable. Wipeout HD allows players to control their craft by using the motion-sensitive features of the Sixaxis controller. Motion control comes in two variants; pitch and steering, or pitch only. The former allows the craft to be totally controlled by moving the controller, while the latter only allows the nose of the craft to be raised or lowered by motion control with the steering either controlled by analogue stick or D-pad.
Also carried on from Wipeout Pulse is Photo Mode, which allows the player to take screenshots of the game and save them to the PlayStation 3 hard drive as full 1920x1080 resolution images. These photos can be manipulated before being saved, with editing functions for exposure, saturation, lens focus, depth of field and motion blur parameters. Accessed under the Photo folder in the XrossMediaBar, these images can then be transferred to PC, used as wallpaper, sent to friends, and so on.
Wipeout HD features 38 Trophies, which range from the simple – such as merely using the Photo Mode – to the difficult, such as reaching the high-speed Zone 75 in Zone Mode. Twelve of the trophies are hidden, with no description on how to obtain them visible to the player, while the final of the thirty-eight trophies is a Platinum Trophy entitled "Transcendence", obtained when all other trophies have been collected (excluding additional content trophies).
Tracks and teams
There are eight available tracks in Wipeout HD, all of which are remastered versions of tracks from the two previous PlayStation Portable Wipeout games. Six of the tracks (Anulpha Pass, Chenghou Project, Übermall, Sebenco Climb, Sol 2 and Vineta K) are from Wipeout Pure, with the remaining two (Metropia and Moa Therma) from Wipeout Pulse. All of these tracks are available to play in both forwards and reverse, akin to the "black" and "white" modes of Wipeout Pulse, and can also be played in Zone mode.
Twelve race teams are featured in Wipeout HD: FEISAR, AG Systems, Assegai, EG-X, Goteki 45, Piranha, Qirex, Triakis, Auricom, Harimau, Icaras, and Mirage. Their ship designs are inspired by those featured in Wipeout Pulse, with battered, dirty versions of the ships that served as inspiration available alongside the new models. Two previous race teams, Tigron Enterprises and Van-Uber Racing Developments, introduced in Wipeout Fusion, are seen as billboards; In the game's continuity, these two teams have folded, and the billboards were a surprise inclusion for players.
When the player drives over X-shaped item pads on tracks, they are given a random pick-up that can either be activated so the player can receive its benefits, or 'absorbed' into the ship to restore hull energy. The rarer the pick-up is, the more energy it will restore when absorbed, forcing the player to make quick decisions over whether item benefit or emergency repair is the current priority.
Wipeout HD Fury
An expansion pack for Wipeout HD entitled Wipeout HD Fury was released on the PlayStation Store worldwide on 23 July 2009. The pack consists of eight new tracks, 13 new ship models, and three new game modes: Eliminator, Zone Battle and Detonator. The add-on also includes a new 80-event campaign mode, a redesigned menu interface, several new Trophies and six new music tracks.
Like the tracks featured in the main game, those in Wipeout HD Fury are taken from the PlayStation Portable Wipeout games. Four of the new tracks included in the Fury pack are available to play in any mode and include accompanying "reverse" versions: The Amphiseum, Talon's Junction, and Tech De Ra from Wipeout Pulse, and Modesto Heights from Wipeout Pure. The remaining four tracks (Pro Tozo, Mallavol, Corridon 12 and Syncopia), which are all taken from Wipeout Pure, do not feature reverse versions and are playable only in the Zone, Zone Battle, and Detonator game types. Syncopia can be used outside of zone mode by way of glitch (the glitch was fixed in Update 2.50).
Wipeout HD was first officially announced during E3 2007, where it was explained that it would be a downloadable title, available on the PlayStation Network, that would feature high-definition versions of old tracks. Later in the year at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony revealed to journalists that the game would be available before the end of 2007, and would include two further game modes that were ultimately not included for the final release: Elimination and Head 2 Head. However, a 2007 release was not forthcoming; development continued through 2008, and a shifting release date (initially believed to be Summer, 2008) was eventually finalised in the middle of September 2008, for release later that month.
The delay from the initial summer time frame was widely reported as being due to a technical issue in development. Explaining the problem, David Reeves, CEO of Sony Europe, remarked that it was "a specific technical problem with Wipeout that we have to solve", and that while he could not expand upon the point, "it is a really, really tricky technical problem that no region has been able to solve at the moment. [...] I think it will come out before the end of the year but it is something that was just very difficult to get to grips with". Reports soon emerged that the game had failed epilepsy testing, and that the game would have to be re-engineered before it could be released. These reports were addressed by an SCEE representative, who stated that the delay was due to numerous improvements and added features, which included the reverse tracks, four extra ships, two new heads-up displays, the addition of two-player offline split screen mode, and Trophy support. Addressing the reports of health issues, they affirmed that they "take consumer safety very seriously and monitor it very carefully". A comparison video between the preview and final builds later showed greatly toned-down equaliser visuals in Zone Mode. The issues were confirmed when the game's director, Tony Buckley, spoke about the tests, saying that although he felt the tests were subjective and the exact issues "difficult to pinpoint", they took them seriously and that the game has "come out the other end alright, with a lot more content", despite their initial fears that the game would "look poorer as a result".
A new feature from update 1.4, called "badges" which will promote players whenever they can finish the race in time or in first. Players will begin as a "Trainee" to the latest rank from reaching the highest badge. The host can set up configurations before the start of the race, such as toggling Pilot Assist On/Off, and even disable/enable Barrel Rolls.
The same update that was released alongside the Fury downloadable content introduced in-game advertisements from Double Fusion, found in the loading screens before a race. This move was met with criticism from gaming news outlets, particularly as the advertisements significantly extended the loading time between levels, almost doubling them; while the game content loads at the same speed, the advert must finish playing before the race can begin. The advert was removed soon afterwards, due to several complaints from players. As well as discussion surrounding the increase in load times, there has been consternation about advertising being retroactively added into a game that had already been paid for.
On the official European PlayStation Blog it was confirmed by Studio Liverpool that they would be "looking into adding Home Game Launching" sometime in the future. The new Wipeout space contains the interior building of Metropia, which includes a robotic DJ located at the Sky Deck, two Wipeout HD Fury ships (Feisar and Icaras), an animated billboard for each of the Wipeout HD teams, and an arcade game known as Wipeout 2D. Wipeout-themed furniture and ornaments are also available for purchase on PlayStation Home, which can be used to decorate a user's Home space.
The soundtrack comprises nine tracks, presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound. The game also allows use of custom soundtracks, so that any music stored on the PlayStation 3 hard drive can be selected during gameplay for use in races.
The Fury expansion pack also added the following additional music tracks:
On 14 October 2008, Tim Wright, also known as CoLD SToRAGE, who worked on the soundtrack for previous Wipeout games, released an unofficial six track album entitled Cold Storage HD, to complement the game.
Universal praise from reviews has been placed on the presentation and visuals of the game, with "sharp detail", "breathtaking lighting", and "strikingly artistic visuals that are gorgeous to see in motion"; Zone mode was also praised in this regard, being "nothing short of stunning" and ultimately creating an "immensely immersive experience". The audio and soundtrack were also well-received, being "perfectly put to practice". In the 12th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards Finalists Wipeout HD achieved a nomination under 'Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design.'
Criticism mostly stems from the game's porting of tracks and vehicles, as well as soundtrack, directly from the previous two PlayStation Portable games, with "little new for fans of the series to sink their teeth into". Some disappointment was also expressed at the "slightly undercooked" online mode, and that some competitive modes, such as Eliminator, were not initially carried over from the PlayStation Portable versions (until the release of the Fury expansion packs).
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