Motion Sickness: Wipeout HD

September 28, 2008

Whew! What a massive update for the Playstation Network with Burnout Paradise put on sale plus the trophy packs, Wipeout HD, and the charming Mega Man 9 it was a good week to be a gamer. Enough with my corporate shilling let’s get to this post! Unsurprisingly, there is a plethora of topics to talk about with Jack Thompson being disbarred, the massive release of Little Big Planet beta codes, and the unexpected release of Mega Man 9 in 8-bit! But I am going to bring your attention toe Wipeout HD. Specifically, the motion controls.

For those of you who don’t know, Wipeout HD is basically a high definition release of Wipeout: Pulse and Wipeout: Pure with some very nice screen shot capabilities, custom track options, and a few other very welcome updates . One update in particular is the option for motion controls using the Sixaxis controller. Having heard some very positive feedback about the motion controls in Wipeout HD I thought I would bust it out. The game gives the option to both steer and tilt your vehicle on the track.

Gamers are known to fear change–as do many people in general–but in this console generation where the Wii is garnering such acclaim for its motion controls, it is surprising that Sony has yet to assist developers in mastering the Sixaxis. The only game I know to have come close is Grand Theft Auto 4‘s helicopter skew. After playing about two hours of Wipeout HD with the motion controls I had barely past the first grid of tracks. Immediately I switched to analog as well as the direction pad and my skill with the game increased exponentially.

This is absurd. One infuriating aspect of the motion controls is that it the game references the horizontal axis to the position of the controller horizontally. That is, the player must hold the controller flat and horizontally for the vehicle to not tilt upward. It is painfully unnatural and most importantly unintuitive.

Videogames lay on a foundation of intuitiveness for game design and especially controls. This is definitely the biggest failure of the Sixaxis since its conception. The genius of WiiSports is that the controller scheme is intuitive and references motion points that the public can associate it. Wipeout HD, a racing game no less, lacks this intuitiveness in its steering. This is unforgivable. At least reference the horizontal plane to the positioning of the controller in the player’s hand. It is unfathomable and the fact that the Playstation 3 which has been out over a year has yet to master a core function of its control scheme reveals the laziness, uninspired, and complete blunder of the system.

But more importantly, the inability to utilize the motion controls in an unobtrusive and nonperipheral manner is a poetic analogy to high-end consoles this generation. Where the majority of AAA titles are reitterating that of which has come before with a sleaker look, little innovation has been done outside of realm of independent developers and a handful of studio houses.



  1. Jack Thompson was disbarred? Well, glory be. Sometimes justice *is* done.

  2. I’m waiting for the Sixaxis Plus controller to be announced.

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