Wipeout was my first game on the Playstation console. I played it in 1995 and it was a very cool game for that time. In 1997 I played the second part of the Wipeout franchise, called Wipeout 2097. What can I say? I was stunned by this futuristic racing game and the soundtrack of these two games done brilliantly by Prodigy. The years passed since then and I must admit that I skipped the following games: Wipeout Xl, Wipeout 3 and Wipeout Fusion. Having the PSP at hand now, I have to do justice to this racing game and review the latest addition to the big and happy Wipeout family. Story
It's a futuristic racing game and you want a story? Let me tell you something about it. In the no-so-distant future antigravity rules the highways and people left the wheels to plunge into cockpits. That's about it. Take a spaceship and make your way to the podium by winning as many races as you can. Concept
It's simple. What could mankind do for fun in 2197? They drive hovercrafts at crazy speeds on very narrow tracks. You might imagine that if you're going to hit lots of walls there has to be some place where you can fall off the track. Well, there is, I mean are. A characteristic that many racing games lack is the damage concept. This game has it and you'll find that out pretty soon when you'll hit walls repeatedly or get blown away by all sorts of rockets and missiles. When you've taken enough damage you'll die and the race will end and the player gets 0 points.
You must have played some racing game on a console so the controls won't be news to you. It's the good old X button for the acceleration, the square is used for shooting the weapons you pick up and the circle is used for braking. You'll recognize most of the teams you played in the previous versions of Wipeout: AGS, Feisar, Auricom, Harimau, Piranha, Triakis, Qirex. Locations all have cool sounding names like: Blue Ridge, Chenghou, Vineta, Modesto, Sinucit, Sol or Citta Nuova. Navigating to the baby-blue-colored menu you'll find out that there are many ways of racing and having fun in Wipeout Pure. There's the Tournament Mode, the Zone Mode, the Time Trial and the Free Play. Of course that there is a multiplayer mode, but I'll talk about that later. Gameplay
When racing at high speed you'll pass over some X-shaped tiles that are parts of the track. Their color changes and depending on what color they were when you passed above, the pickups will vary from rockets to shields, spiked mines and many others. I consider the best of them to be the turbo especially in straight lines, because it gives you quite an unfair advantage in front of the already crippled AI. There are also some triangle-shaped white tiles on the track that will give you temporary speed boosts. They might come in groups of two or three or just one of them. The opponents are not so keen on dying as you'll be, when you get hit by an orange shockwave. Relax; they'll calm down when you'll be in front.
Seriously if you are 2 or 3 seconds ahead of the second place the ships behind won't put up much of a fight to win the race.
Personally, I found the game a bit easy to play and I wanted something more so I chose the Zone Mode. I was new to that and I realized that it was an endurance test that implied letting the ship go above 600 kilometers per hour and avoiding the destruction of the ship. You'll be all alone on the track and the damage will be done by the evil walls that get in your way. Getting past different zones will unlock bonus tracks with even more difficult areas to race, where you have to avoid getting smashed at high speed. Feeling bored? Download tracks, ships and songs from the official site of the game. There are already the Classic Pack 1 and 2, the Gamma pack, the Omega Pack, the Delta Pack (what is with those Greek letters?) etc.
You'll have the fun of your life when you'll leave the second placed ship in front of you only to use the freshly picked up powerup. In other words, lock, load and fire! Wipeout is not the kind of game where you "take your time" as it contains high speed gameplay and each race will last only a minute or two. That will surely get your blood in motion and your palms sweaty. All the racing games I have ever played had the everlasting nuisance of the hairpins. However Wipeout cleared out my trauma and I finally found out how to take a very sharp turn and a hairpin. Is it just me or do the weapons do more damage than they did in the previous Wipeout games? The game got rid of the pit stop concept that F1 fans would love but a Star Wars fan in a rush would hate. You won't have to lose time by taking your big ship to a pit stop and you'll convert the pickups to shield energy instead. Video
The game looks and feels good and by the looks of it racing fans will be satisfied with the graphics of the game. Snow and water effects appear on tracks and although I thought I was drooling on the PSP screen, there was a water drops effect on the camera when racing in rainy conditions. The explosions and other weapon effects have "Ka-boom!" written all over them. Colorful environments, cool rides and perfect background bring the game to a graphical climax. You have to love the menu although this sci-fi look requires high loading times.
The backgrounds are very beautiful and futuristic at the same time and you'll enjoy seeing tall sky scrapers, big screens, lasers, domes and other buildings. Every detail of the ship and surrounding area is well done and the lighting is beautifully put together. The boom made by the blast of a bomb is true eye candy specially when done at the entrance of some underwater tunnel. By far the most impressive weapon effect is the quake: you'll see the floor lifting a bit and wave of explosions following any ship in your range. Sound
I still miss the old soundtracks that had Prodigy and Chemical Brothers playing while racing at high speed. The weapons sound real (as real as futuristic weapons can sound). Eminem said in one of his songs that "nobody listens to techno". Well the Wipeout fans and producers sure do and you'll be able to hear A7 Music, Voice of Cod and Oblivion (not the game) in action. They even have a cool tool on the website that allows you to mix and remix your own songs and transfer them to the PSP.
If you don't like having a woman tell you what to do I'm sorry for you, because a sexy feminine cyborg-like voice will dominate the game. Each "Go!" or "Action!" or the names of the weapons that you pick up will be heard through a sexy female voice. There are 19 tracks of drum 'n bass and breakbeat music in Wipeout Pure. The songs are definite mood-setters, even nice to listen when you're not playing the game. Multiplayer
Race against 7 other people using the Wi-fi technology and have the ball of your life blowing your classmate off the track or finishing ahead of your neighbor. A bit of a pain is the fact that once the race is over all players are reset to the main menu. We would have liked a hall of fame (or shame), a tournament or something between races to link them into an unique competition. Lacking online play (sorry folks), the gamers will await impatiently the online content that SCEE will create, that being new skins, vehicles, tracks, songs and many others. Conclusion
I would consider using a car a shame when I'll go home today. After all this futuristic racing at 600 kilometers per hour, it's horror being brought back to not even 50 km per hour. We'll have to wait quite a bit before the technology in Wipeout becomes reality, but in the meantime we have one of the best futuristic racing games in our hands, if not one of the best racing games ever. The Wipeout franchise accompanied Sony all the way from the first Playstation and I really don't see it ending here. I really expect to see some Wipeout action on PS 3 maybe at 1000 miles per hour this time.