Okay, I'm going to have to call a draw for this category. Yes, you might be laughing at my statement that both games are on an equal pegging technically, but considering their respective platforms, they are. Both games run at epic speeds. Both are silky smooth and never drop a single one of their sixty frames per second. And they both push the hardware by flipping and spinning vast amounts of 3D track-side scenery around. Wipeout is in HD because it can be. F-Zero isn't because it can't be. Simple as that.
Wipeout has a cool as hell 3D photo manipulation tool. F-Zero has the last-gen equivalent in a multi-camera replay mode. Wipeout has explosions full of gleaming particle effects. F-Zero manages a whole THIRTY cars at a time, each with aggressive AI, and does four-player on-screen multiplayer. Everything one does, the other has an equivalent. Applause to both games then.
Winner: It's a draw
Here's where things get a little trickier to call. You see Wipeout HD, like all of its predecessors, makes stunning use of contemporary dance music to create a juice- up feel that's very hard to write off. Playing it today, the ambience is perfect. But the problem is tomorrow.
The thing is, dance music dates faster than any other genre, and what makes the game fresh now will probably make it more than a bit cheesy in a year or two. Just go back and play Wipeout 2097 if you need proof of that. Of course, HD has the bonus of custom soundtracks, so it gets points for that, but we're talking about the standalone games here.
F-Zero's tunes on the other hand, while a little more 'videogamey', remain fresh for that very reason. Created in their own aesthetic without regard for contemporary musical fads, they're a screamingly invigorating blend of dance beats, chugging metal guitar and jubilantly wailing solos. And in another advantage over Wipeout, each tune is tied to its own racetrack, meaning that every note and sound suits the atmosphere of the gameplay perfectly. In Wipeout HD, one size fits all.
Frankly, every tune is a killer and I haven't got the room or the time to post videos of them all, so I've just picked out a couple of my personal favourites. You can get a feel for the rest on Youtube. In the video above you'll find the glorious breakbeat jazz madness of Casino Loop, and the beautiful moment that the original SNES Mute City theme unexpectedly kicks in during the second lap of its GC descendant. To use a highly professional, journalistic description, the first time I ever played GX, the heart-threatening adrenalin and sheer brilliance of the game turned that little surprise into one of the most joyously air-punching, "F*CKING COME ON!" moments of my entire gaming career.
Winner: F-Zero GX