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Wipeout HD impressions

Initial impressions, as expected, can be described thusly:

The hype is true, the screens weren’t lies. It is a stupidly, almost disgustingly well-presented game. I now See The Light on this 1080p/60FPS mantra. I don’t think it’s necessary for every game (or even close) but for racing games like this… it just presents a level of perceptual solidity that is unmatched. I find myself having difficulty conjuring meaningfully demonstrative words to convey the cortex-fluffing hyperprettiness of this title, and I keep coughing up mutant non-words mashed together in German fashion: fuckawesom, or holyshitacular.

It’s definitely a close hybrid of Pulse and Pure. I’d say they took most of Pulse’s tracks (with attendant grid system), and Pure’s physics and handling. A nice combo, as you would really drag on the wall if you tapped it in Pulse, not so much in HD. The weirdo side-shift move from Pulse is in there as well, which I still view distrustfully, and keep my distance from. Yes, the in-race GUI is a bit out of sync aesthetically with the rest of the presentation, although it does a functional enough job and doesn’t distract unnecessarily. Having said that I will definitely be trying out the other UI schemas once I unlock them. I always thought of XL’s as the best.

Online play is also freakishly smooth, and what a truly sublime experience it is to play Wipeout on a home console again, with live opponents. And voice. And rankings. The PSP games – they are awesome, but the shortcomings there are entirely to do with the fact that this is a high-intensity game on a handheld. It’s practically impossible to maintain any semblance of control on even a moderately rocking train in Wipeout Pure/Pulse. So while I hail their efforts in this area… the home console and big screen are where Wipeout really belongs.

I’ve been playing exclusively with motion controls. My first impression of the sixaxis tilt sensor, my very first thought, was “that’s for Wipeout”. And it is. Acclimatizing feels weird as you have to find a natural decision point in a turn where you stop moving your arms and squeeze the airbrakes. I recommend a lot of tweaking with the sensitivity setting. Also, I found it easy to forget that I was not just steering but pitching with the controller as well. I think it does that auto-leveling thing that GTA4 did (i.e. it looks at what profile you are holding the controller in at game start and uses that as “zero”). I don’t see myself going back to the sticks.

What else. Chenghou Project still kicks my ass in unnatural ways.

Oh – I did find a couple of pretty major bugs, although luckily not showstoppers, and fixable. First bug was a bit of weird off-screen text that seemed to say PRESS SELECT; this would bring up what looks an awful lot like a debug menu that I ought not be able to bring up, with some XML garbage in it. Selecting any of the fields caused a hard freeze. Others had reported outright random freezing on matches, menu screens, etc, although none of that happened to me. The issue seems to be closely linked to having 50 or more friends on your Friends List in the XMB. If you have less friends than that, the Select button thing doesn’t happen, and no freezes. So I assume they’ll patch that shit, but it’s kind of surprising that such a prominent bug was there at all, considering all the extra time they took.

(Also check your MP3s if you are using custom soundtracks, some malformed songs can really play hell with a game.)

And to this end I must make a confession. When I read about the 50-friend thing online, I went and looked and I had something like 67 people in my list. And I thought, well I don’t really want to delete a bunch of people for the sake of Wipeout’s online stability, do I? So I switched to a different user account and tried out a single online match to see what I might be missing.

And then I logged straight back into my original account with scythe in hand. I felt bad, not Old Yeller bad, for purging pseudonicknames of people I’ve barely acquaintanced myself with, but still, sort of bad. However, let’s be honest: this is Wipeout. Online. There was never really a choice here. These anonymous people’s friend linkages died for a good cause. If I bumped you… I’m sorry. Kinda.


8 responses to “Wipeout HD impressions”

  1. It’s after midnight and no Wipeout on PSN. That isn’t surprising, though I did harbour a secret hope. I was hoping to be able to queue the download before leaving for work in the morning, but I hear Sony doesn’t put stuff up on PSN until the afternoon Eastern Time. So instead of spending tomorrow night playing Wipeout, I’m probably going to be stuck spending most of the evening downloading it. *grumble*

  2. Yeah, 5 or 6pm EST is the usual update time for the Playstation Store.

  3. You can queue stuff up using a PSP via Remote Play as well. I used to always bring it to work on Thursdays in case some big demo or game dropped.

    If it’s any consolation, the game is less than a gig so the download shouldn’t be horrible. (Funny how everyone gets different speeds on PSN though.)

  4. Hahahaha, the Jesus Camp/Wipeout Day banner is totally amazing.

  5. LOL. I didn’t even recognize that image from Jesus Camp right away. WipEout HD… is INSTALLING.

  6. Should i get this? I am kinda hankering for something new, although Warhawk has gotten a kick in the ass from the latest updates. Racing is not exactly what i had in mind, but as with all things PS3, online is a dealmaker.

    Shall i join you, Nerf? Is it worth it? Give me your biased opinion.

  7. Of course you should get it

  8. Minor quibble, it actually isn’t 1080p all the time:

    I don’t care, I love the game anyway, and I think the dynamic adjustment is a neat trick. The guy who wrote that post thinks so, too.

    Love the game. Not sure about motion control vs stick control yet, I’m still tweaking my control scheme. I can’t figure out how to invite people to multiplayer games I create, though, otherwise I would have shot you an invite last night.

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