As the game's name suggests, Wipeout HD treats senses with the optimum visual spunkery, running in 1080p and at 60fps. Needless to say it looks absolutely gorgeous, and the resolution upgrade is the perfect polish to show off the mammoth effort that the Studio Liverpool team has put in to the project.
If the extra detail that has gone into Chenghou is applied to the remaining seven circuits then we'll be hugely impressed. The track, which Buckley insists is the player's focus and as such must be "one of the better visuals in the environment", has been given a lined, ridged texture that helps augment the sense of speed and track geometry brilliantly. Look closer and you see that everything, from chevrons through to power-up pads, have all received considerable attention.
The prosperous cityscape that surrounds the Chenghou circuit also benefits from a generous sprucing. Existing buildings have been aesthetically improved and entirely new structures added. Track-side neon and brightly-lit team logos and slogans are more vibrant than ever. There is so much more substance and definition to the ambience that it's hard to take it all in. The beautiful sun-tinged clouds, the traffic flying overhead, the slowly rotating giant blue cat and on and on. When Buckley tells us that "Chenghou is a brilliant example of where the artists really went to town and changed it completely," we have to nod in agreement. They've brought the backdrop to life.
Above: New detail on the HUD indicates the proximity of rival racers, the position of incoming missiles and the damage/absorb value of weapons
Extensive work has also gone into making Wipeout HD's racing vehicles look the part. Each ship still retains its own familiar design, but smudges of grime, scorch marks and battle scars all help convey the sense that these are not pristine showroom models on parade, they are heavy-duty, combat racing machines that are most definitely in active service.
Since our hands-on with the game, Sony revealed that the option to fully guide craft using Sixaxis motion control will be included. Although this feature wasn't implemented in the version that we played, Buckley said that it would be used for pitch and, possibly, performing the speed-boosting barrel roll. However, he shared our concerns at the time that it just wouldn't be practical. "I'd like to support control of the ship, but at 60fps at some of the quicker speed classes we're not too sure how usable it's going to be... We don't want to implement features just because we can." We'll have to wait and see whether the team had a breakthrough in terms of nailing motion-control while flying at frightening velocities.