The digital delights of Sony’s scrumptious PlayStation Network service know no bounds. Aside from letting punters compete in online gaming, stream films, browse the Internet and more, its premier attraction rests in the copious supply of downloadable games ripe for the picking. From PSN exclusives to PSOne Classics, minis and plain old add-on content, Sony’s online space is chock full of goodies battling it out for your hard-earned digital dollars.
Welcome back to another installment of Inside PlayStation Network, where every Monday – Friday we’ll pluck a PSN release—be it new or old—and put it in the spotlight for a thorough dissection. Fancy getting a new PSN game but don’t know what one to plump for? Perhaps this feature will help. Didn’t realize that a game was available in your region until now? We've got you covered. Or, perhaps you were musing over what those lucky Japanese folk were tucking into over in the Land of the Rising Sun? You can be sure our coverage will extend to those rare regional exclusives as much as those firmly embedded on the public consciousness.
Today, we take a futuristic cruise in the neo-lit world of Wipeout HD.
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment Studio Liverpool
Region(s) available: North America, Europe
Players: 1-2 (splitscreen) 1-8 (online)
Wipeout’s been a staple of the PlayStation experience since its genesis way back in 1995. Essentially Sony’s answer to Nintendo’s hugely successful F-Zero franchise, Wipeout has enjoyed critical and commercial success thanks to its fusion of terrific techno beats with adrenaline-fueled futuristic racing. With the PlayStation 3 entry Wipeout HD, Sony’s taken polished PSP outings Pure and Pulse and given them a 1080p paintjob, and slapping a budget price on the package for good measure.
Wipeout HD has three main modes up for grabs – single-player, online and racebox. The solo experience offers up a similar experience to the one found in Pulse, with speed and enemy AI increasing as you progress. Gamers can pick from five bread-and-butter game types, namely single races, multirace competitions, time trials, speed laps and zone. Conspicuous by its absence here however, is Pulse’s Elimination mode. As you blast through events you’ll accumulate points; acquire enough of them, and you will soon find yourself unlocking fresh levels to tackle.
Fans will be pleased (or perhaps dismayed) to learn that this shiny HD update adheres to the series’ notoriously tricky difficulty curve. Sure, the first couple of tiers are easy to rake in the medals, but as you make it to the fourth of fifth tier, things become another kettle of fish altogether. As a result of this however, Sony’s chucked in a new pilot assist mode – a first for the venerable racing franchise. Once activated, it’ll steer away from the edges of any given course, and generally help you avoid making any severe crashes. In terms of multiplayer component, Wipeout HD supports two-player split-screen and eight-player online racing.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll generally get a smoother experience online than off, with the frame rate taking a bit of a nose dive in split-screen mode from time to time. Elsewhere, the game also offers SixAxis control functionality, letting you tilt the pad to manipulate your craft instead of using the bog-standard analogue stick. There’s also plenty of Trophies up for grabs too, which encourages you to perform some fancy manoeuvres such as barrel rolls. Unlockables include a nostalgia-coated heads-up display plucked right from the classic PSOne title Wipeout 2097, new ship skins, as well as the chance to capture photos and implement various effects such as exposure and depth of field.
Tune in again same time tomorrow for another look Inside PlayStation Network.