Expansion packs never get me too excited. Even if they're for games I love, I'd much rather see the dev team spend that time working on a proper sequel. So news that Sony Liverpool was working on the Fury expansion pack for the superb WipEout HD left me rather cold. I wanted news of a proper PS3 retail release WipEout, not more content for an old game. But the sheer amount of content included in Fury, combined with the already brilliant gameplay seen in the original release, makes this an expansion pack I can get behind. I might just be a convert.
For just shy of £8 Fury gives you three new event types, 12 new tracks, 13 new ships to pilot, six new music tracks and a new campaign selectable from the main menu consisting of 80 challenge events. It's not bad at all when you consider what publishers charge for a few new maps in the latest first-person shooters. This is made all the better thanks to the 2.0 patch (free for everyone), that adds a new statistics section, new ship and track selection screens and some new community and online features.
The included new tracks, split between standard and zone mode, are great, and a few raise the bar in terms of visuals - which is no mean feat considering the original game had some stunning-looking tracks. Despite being labelled as new ships, these are essentially old models with altered specs, but that's not so bad considering we had plenty to choose from already. Despite being great additions, this content doesn't really add much to the core experience, but this is where the new game modes come in.
Eliminator will be familiar to players of the PSP WipEout games, and essentially scores you for dishing out damage to other racers. With the ability to spin 180 degrees at the press of a button and fire off projectiles at oncoming racers, it's a game mode that's high on action and great fun once you learn to focus on combat and not so much taking the correct racing line.
Detonator is initially quite strange, simply because it's so different to every other game mode WipEout HD has to offer - almost making it feel like a completely new game. You need to blast bombs that have been placed on the track, earning bonuses for combos and various other advanced techniques, such as letting loose a shock wave that takes out all the bombs within a set distance. It takes time to get the hang of, and isn't helped by a poor in-game explanation, but is the surprise hit of the package.
Zone Battle rounds off the new game modes. This is even harder to get a grip on than Detonator, but once you do it's a great deal of fun. It's all about boosting between zones and has the same visual style as standard Zone mode events, albeit with other racers on the track to compete against. Add to this the additional ranks to be achieved for racing online and this is a package that offers plenty of content, with none of it feeling like filler.
WipEout HD Fury seems a snip at just £8. The new tracks are excellent, but it's the game modes that offer the real value for money here - they're so good it's no surprise Sony Liverpool was keen to get them into gamers' hands in an expansion rather than having to wait until the release of a completely new game. Presentation is as good as we expected, the audio work is superb and the new online functionality adds to an already solid package. If you liked WipEout HD, Fury is a no-brainer. Buy it now.