Hands-on: WipEout HD Fury


If you haven't heard, WipEout HD's first expansion pack is coming to the PlayStation Network next week. The Fury pack doesn't come cheap -- at $9.99, it costs almost as much as the initial game itself. However, Fury goes beyond the norm, offering more than just new tracks. The addition of brand new gameplay modes makes for an experience that seems well worth the price of entry.

Almost immediately, it's apparent that Fury is a game's worth of content by itself. After installing the pack, players will choose the content they'd like to access. Selecting Fury will bring a drastic change to the interface, with its black background and intense red HUD. From there, players will be able to go through the Racebox and Grid as usual.

The single player grid repeats the same progression structure found in HD and PSP's Pulse. The grid in Fury will take players through the 12 new tracks. Once again, players will have to place in single races, fastest lap challenges, and Zone levels. However, in addition to the challenges found in the original game, Fury introduces three new modes: Eliminator, Zone Battle, and Detonator.
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Eliminator should be familiar to anyone who's played WipEout Pulse. In this mode, players race indefinitely around the track, attempting to rake in as many kills as possible. Weapons function as usual in this mode, but players lose the ability to absorb them. Instead of regaining health, sacrificing a weapon results in a very temporary shield that's useful against locked-on missiles. Whoever gets the target score first wins.

Zone Battle is an interesting twist on the original concept, and it took us quite some time to figure out. Instead of flying solo, Zone Battle places your ship against others in a competitive "race," of sorts. There's no definitive "finish line" as in a traditional race. Rather, players must reach a set Zone level first. To increase the competitive aspect of the mode, Zone Battle introduces a new boost mechanic. As players race through the Zone level unscathed, they build up a charge that creates a speed boost -- and a new "zone barrier." The barrier is WipEout's equivalent of Mario Kart's banana peel. It won't do much to opponent ships, but it will slow them down. Players must stay vigilant, as the speed continues to increase, to avoid an ever-growing number of barriers. It's an exciting twist on our most favorite WipEout mode.

Finally, Detonator is Fury's most refreshing mode. Essentially, Detonator is WipEout's interpretation of the rail shooter. Targets are scattered all along the track, and players must use the on-ship guns to take them down. The ship can only fire ten bullets at a time, before reloading, so players must remain focused with their aim. A combo system encourages skillful shooting, as ten consecutive successful shots are far more valuable than ten shots alone. However, frugality comes at a terrible cost, as we've learned the hard way. Each lap introduces more targets to the track, and those that weren't destroyed in the first lap become deadly bombs that deal significant damage to your ship. As each race progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to simply stay alive, as players won't be able to shoot fast enough, or weave between bombs quickly enough.



Thankfully, there's a shockwave that can clear out obstacles on the track. This very useful device takes a while to charge, so players must use it smartly to increase their score -- and to survive. At higher speeds, the action is incredibly frenetic, as players switch between gun and shockwave attacks, all whilst navigating the track and avoiding the increasing number of obstacles on the track. Detonator is easily Fury's best mode, and it provides an experience we think is completely new to the WipEout franchise.

Once again, the Liverpool team has created another worthy addition to the WipEout series. While Fury may be just a simple add-on (with tracks recycled from the PSP games, yet again), the new gameplay modes really make it feel like a proper sequel. WipEout fans have a lot to look forward to.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.