Wipeout HD vs. Energy Drinks

Your pulse quickens, your heartbeat races. Adrenaline courses through your system while synapses fire with enough electrical energy to light a casino on fire. It can only mean one of two things: you've consumed enough sugary caffeine to give a bull elephant a seizure, or you're playing Wipeout HD, the PS3 incarnation of arguably the most frenetic and fast-paced racing series ever made.

Wipeout HD vs. Energy Drinks

A BriEf NotE on CapitaLizaTion

Some smart bastard in the marketing department insists the title be stylised as WipEout. I refuse to comply with the choice due to the following three reasons:

  1. It sucks.
  2. It sucks.
  3. It's against my religion.*
* Because it sucks.

The Fast and the Futuristic

September, 1995. Sony released a brand new game console, the "PlayStation", at $299.99. Three weeks later, Wipeout --- a new game that had you piloting a futuristic anti-gravity ship at superhuman speed --- hit the shelves, and a million childhoods were irrevocably ruined as the pale mist of reality, normalcy and human interaction gave way to the hedonistic vista of sparkly lights, dance music and instant gratification.

Oh, sweet memory.

Fifteen years on, enter Wipeout HD for the PS3. Let's get something out of the way: HD ain't a brand new game. Its DNA has been spliced from sister titles Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse -- handheld releases that did a great job at suffusing nostalgic electropop beats with the giddy, rushing gameplay we've come to know and love.

Dodging explosions

HD has a knack of latching on to your head like an enamoured facehugger.”

After a few short minutes it's clear that HD was a game hewn from the still-beating heart of a speed junkie. Nanosecond maneuvers, high speed explosions and the weapons system keeps even the most confident gamer on his toes. While it definitely rewards picosecond-perfect timing, Wipeout newbies need not bring a crash helmet; the difficulty curve resembles a goodly-sized hill rather than the all-too-familiar vertical cliff of ice and fear.

At its best, HD has a knack of latching on to your head like an enamoured facehugger. As it pulls you deeper into the rabbit hole, your consciousness dissipates, the room drops away, reality suspends. It's just you and the race. Twisting through hairpin turns at break-neck speeds becomes a matter of perfect timing and eidetic memory; its a combination enough to cause racing fans' already arrhythmic hearts to skip a faulty beat.

In the fastest speed mode, the map is a blur. You hardly see the next bend before it's reached and passed you by. Steering is done by instinct and memory, the slightest flick of the analog stick and a tap of the shoulder button sees you rolling narrowly by a corner that didn't exist a second ago. Falter for a second and the game is lost.

Qirex

While you're counting the attoseconds between turns, take a moment to admire the view. Retina-popping visuals are painted like a digital Michaelangelo on crack. "Zone" in particular layers a psychotropic dreamscape that you won't forget in a hurry. If you're looking for justification to sell your kidney/friend's kidney for an HDTV, this might just be it; Wipeout HD is sexy at full 1080p. Seriously, it will get your TV pregnant.

The music weaves a distinctive and catchy soundtrack into your brainstem, managing to masterfully queue breakbeat electronica with a homage to the series' traditional electronic roots (spot the Kraftwerk, kids).

HD offers a two-player multiplayer and online multiplayer matches with up to eight players. Unfortunately, multiplayer feels little more than an afterthought, and the lack of gameplay options is downright glaring. Lag is something of an inevitable issue for a game where a second can stretch to infinity, and some kind of background sourcery helps keep online gamers in sync, but often no-one has any idea who's won until the unperturbed, disembodied voice announces the winner. We can't blame the developer here, but it is a gripe we have nonetheless.

Twisting track

All-in-all, where another developer might have been tempted to expand the title to score arbitrary marks on a feature list, Sony Liverpool has dodged the temptation like a Harimau taking a corner in the Ubermall: smoothly. The game is pure racing and nothing more, and priced accordingly at that. Where a series like Burnout might come running towards you, Cramer-like bells and whistles trying to get your attention, you'll find Wipeout HD sitting by itself, with an air of quiet confidence and elegance few games in the genre can sustain.

Awake at 4am

Warning: The following section is not recommended for children, pregnant or lactating women, or individuals sensitive to caffeine.

Stephen

Aristotle said, "Nature does nothing uselessly." In other words, mankind is personally responsible for all the uselessness in the world. After Jersey Shore, Chatroulette, and staring at aisle-after-aisle of tragically sensationalist energy drink cans, we're inclined to agree.

A total of fourteen synthetic sins were picked for this comparison. Stephen --- human expendable extraordinaire --- was sent forth to consume and subsequently document each beverage, while R&D observed the results with mop, bucket, and Replacement Stephen (you never know). Thus, the following chart of science was produced, with much verisimilitude:

A chart showing the devastating effects of energy drinks

A Brief Review

We're not gonna lie; subjecting a fellow primate to the carbonated kingdom of chaos was a morally questionable act and indicative of a severe lack of intelligence. But man never would have discovered fire without first attempting to kill rocks with wooden clubs and therefore all acts of stupidity can be excused for the sake of progress. Most importantly, it seemed a good idea at the time.

This issue now firmly dealt with, we shall move on. For your reading pleasure, each drink was dutifully recorded in painstaking detail for future reference. Some favourites include:

Playboy Energy Drink Can

Playboy

Despite the unwelcome association with such an overbearing brand, this piquant brew mixes notes of medicinal fluid with essays of orangade and publications of tang. A bouquet of acid reflux punctuates its otherwise silky finish.

Lift Can

Lift

From the finest local laboratories, this sensual summer drink is sure to placate the casual connoisseur. With the colour of sun-warmed urine, plastic overtones corrode Lift's metallic tang to produce a flavour with the cheeky nuance of candied fruit.

V Can

V

A lithe, full-bodied flavour with a mulish kick. V's rush hits you like a rampant wildebeest. An effervescent sting gently paddles your mouthglands, leaving a faint hint of apples in springtime.

Mother Can

Mother

This formidable broth waxes the earthy flavours of clay and other clay to make for a taste not unlike clay. The hit is a burst of joyful, bounding energy, like a frolicking unicorn. Mother will leave you sweaty and nauseated, but in a good way.

Relentless Can

Relentless

The drink for the raver in all of us, Relentless is an avante-garde pastiche of the classic energy drink, a chemical homage and an instant favourite to new wave energy drinkers. Strong hints of tin and cough syrup.

Red Bull Can

Red Bull

Its name is apt; this beverage rampages around your mouth as though it were indeed a bull taunted, perhaps, by the addition of red to its proximity. An easy drink, non-complex and with simple flavors. One for beginners and connoisseurs alike.

Demon Can

Demon

Imagine a thousand bodies, burning with the infernal flames of demonic energy, endlessly putrefying, shedding maggots and rotting meat as you watch in a slow, detached horror. All that you hear is the sound of crackling flames, and all you smell is the horrifying, bizarrely alluring smell of cooking human flesh. You try to scream, and all that comes out is the sound of static. Now unimagine it, because Demon simply doesn't have the chops to pull it off. Two stars.

Happily, Stephen survived. His stomach contents, sadly, did not. (The matter ejected from his face could, we believe, be successfully classified as a new category of life-form.) Replacement Stephen was terminated to save overhead. Alas, the harsh rigours of enterprise.

Waste Disposal

The Verdict

And now, without haste, we must reduce this absurdly long literary discharge to mere summary, lest we break some immutable Internet Law. In other words, TL;DR.

Wipeout HD 14 x Energy Drinks
Price $20 $20
(Not including cleaning expenses.)
Gameplay An arcade-inspired rush of speed, fun, and explosions. A minimalist masterpiece of racing meets a few choice additions. A series of mini-games beginning with jitters and ending with vomit.
Graphics Beautiful futurism in 1080p. Blurred.
Audio A well-chosen mix of arcade-style electronica and sound effects. The walls are talking.
Notes An energetic, impulsive game that lives true to its history and looks great on your liquid crystals. Hilarious for spectators, intestinally damaging for player.

There you have it. While your adrenaline might spike on caffiene, Wipeout keeps on going like an Energizer Bunny in heat. It's an awesome game to add to your collection, impulsively fun and justifiably affordable.

But then again, why choose?

Cans

More in Versus: Sins of a Solar Empire vs. Justin Beiber

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