The biggest difference this time around is a much more robust multiplayer online. Races with eight distinct players can be launched or joined online with any number of set parameters. These are a blast and roll up to leaderboards that are looking very competitive even now. There doesn't seem to be one bit of slowdown or drag in the graphics and performance of WipEout Pulse
when playing these big online competitions. There is always the issue of a server glitch or disconnection; this happened during one race and was a huge drag. Keeping up on these tracks is intense and requires almost a meditative focus - once this is broken, it feels like a major buzz-kill. The other differences show up in enhanced graphics. The display you'll see from your ship's cockpit or if you are looking at the track from a perspective behind the ship is amazingly realistic. As a setting, you can force the Heads-Up Display (HUD) to wrap as if it were being projected onto the inside of your racer. The HUD can also be set to move dynamically when you hit a bump or get bumped by an opponent.
The music and sound add-ons are very nice in this release. Adding custom music is something we've wanted to see before and it is here. The feature didn't work as well as we would have liked; there seemed to be remnants left on the profile after we had deleted songs, and the advertised number of custom songs allowed (30) didn't stack up for us. There aren't a huge number of original songs packaged with the game, but enough to keep you bumping until you can decide which tracks of your own to add. The artists included in the game are a nice mix of legends such as Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk with lesser known artists. I pushed a little Lady Sovereign and M.I.A. out there and was rocking along to my faves in no time. There were some volume discrepancies and an imperfect system for adjusting the level of sound effects versus music in this preview, but that may be ironed out in the final version. The sound effects are awesome, including the sound of airbrakes sliding into position as you tap the shoulder buttons.