First Play: WipEout HD Fury

Whilst WipEout HD Fury was entirely playable at last month’s E3, it’s only when you sit down with the brand new expansion pack for a couple of hours that you can really appreciate the work that Sony Liverpool have put in – it’s a sizable expansion, incorporating twelve new tracks and an impressive number of new modes, but comes at a price: Fury is almost as much as WipEout HD itself but whilst the tracks and music are again recycled from the Pure and Pulse PSP titles the visual sheen the guys have splashed over everything is stunning.

First off, though – the download is a hefty 700MB and that’s on top of the 100MB 2.0 update that you’ll need to apply if you’ve not played WipEout HD for a couple of days, but once down and installed you’ll immediately see the differences: the whole UI has been reskinned, from the intro movie to the menu backgrounds and music – it’s certainly obvious you’ve got Fury installed although you can switch back to the standard HD menus if you so desire.  From here, it’s entirely up to you whether you decide to dive straight into the new Fury Campaign or dip into Racebox to sample the new tracks, but it’s worth mentioning that everything is unlocked from the off, including any tracks you hadn’t already beaten previously.

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The new Fury Campaign, which runs alongside the HD Campaign, comprises the aforementioned new game modes: Eliminator, Zone Battle, and Detonator. Eliminator sets you and your opponents racing around the track in an infinite number of laps until someone reaches a set level score – weapons are enabled but you can’t absorb them to build back up your shield levels.  It feels a little like a ballistic F-Zero with the option to flip around on the track and face the other way with a tap of the L1 button.  Zone Battle is exactly as you’d expect – race to get to a set Zone level first – with a clever boost mechanic that takes a little getting used to, and finally Detonator, which turns WipEout into an on-rails shooter – blast the targets with your ship mounted gun or they’ll turn into deadly bombs on the next lap.

All the modes seem to fit the WipEout ethos perfectly (and Eliminator should be familiar to PSP owners anyway) but it’s the new tracks that shine the brightest.  Alongside four brand new Zone tracks (with stunning scenery) are four tracks taken from previous titles (Modesto Heights , Tech De Ra, Amphiseum and Talon’s Junction) which are used both forwards and backwards, and all look fantastic as you’ll see from our screenshots we grabbed this evening.  They’re certainly as impressive as the standard included HD courses and WipEout Pulse’s Amphiseum in particular is stunning in 60fps 1080p – there’s a little slowdown here and there but this is normally only when there’s masses of action on screen.

All in all, Fury is a wonderful addition to WipEout HD – the new sections are incorporated nicely, there are new Trophies and ship models to work with and we’re sure that the WipEout community will absolutely lap up the new tracks.  WipEout HD Fury is out tomorrow on the PlayStation Store as part of what we’ve called the PSN’s best week so far.

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