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Wipeout HD is not just a port

Sept 21, 2007

"Port's a bad word," complains Sony Studio Liverpool's game director Tony Buckley. And, after spending some quality time with Wipeout HD, we think he has a point. In gaming parlance 'port' is a dirty word, often prefixed with the words 'sloppy' or 'lazy' and evoking images of a loveless, slap-dash development. However, this is something that, as Buckley points out, his game can't be accused of: "Wipeout HD is not just a port because the amount of effort that's gone into it is massive."

While the anti-grav racer does indeed burglarise PSP outings Pure and the upcoming Pulse, employing the code base from the latter and nabbing a mixture of tracks and teams from both, this is déjà vu of the most pleasurable kind. While already acquainted with the gentle, seductive curves of the Chenghou Project thanks to countless hours playing Wipeout Pure, slipping back into its satisfying, high-velocity rhythm on PS3 feels like a totally fresh and infinitely intensified experience.

We may be familiar with the formula, but the fact that the last time we piloted a Feisar on a big screen and with a proper controller was over eight years ago on PSOne (PS2's Fusion doesn't count because it felt so horribly wrong) helps make our early encounter with Wipeout HD all the more exhilariting. The handling feels super slick - delicately squeezing the airbrakes, easing into a corner and then powering away, ultraviolet vapor trail snaking behind... mmmmm, sweet sensations. We really can't emphasise enough just how good it feels to be playing Wipeout the way it was intended.

However, owing to a reduced complement of weapons and rival racers, access to only the two slowest speed classes, and work-in-progress AI in the version we played, we couldn't get an accurate impression of just how edge-of-the-seat thrilling races will actually be. So while we're thoroughly satisfied with how our Feisar handled, we'll have to reserve judgment on the other facets of Wipeout HD's combat-racing for another day.

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