WipeOut Pure ReviewCain Dornan
No doubt, the speed in which games travel at has become the most important aspect of the racing genre. Generally, when we wish to play a racing title, we want to feel that we are going as fast as possible to exceed the barrier of sound and provide the ultimate adrenaline rush. An ever increasing number of racing titles have began to offer such a feeling, as has been demonstrated in such recent titles as Criterions Burnout series, the Need For Speed series, the recent revival of Namcos classic racing franchise, Ridge Racer. SCEEs Wipeout series was once regarded as an insanely fast racer, which has now made a somewhat impressive debut onto Sonys latest system, the PSP, with the game providing mixed reactions as it impresses in some aspects, but also disappoints in others.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Wipeout Pure involves pitching speeding, futuristic flying machines through colourful settings at reasonably fast speeds. While the series once felt remarkably fast in the early stages of the franchises life, the recent creation of a number of competing fast-paced titles as mentioned above have left the classic series feeling somewhat slow. After beginning to play Wipeout Pure shortly after reviewing Ridge Racer on the PSP, I couldnt help but feel somewhat disappointed with the overall speed of the game. I had once considered the Wipeout series to be the king of fast-paced racing, so fast that they prevented you from blinking due to the likelihood of smashing your vehicle into metallic pieces. Unfortunately, after enjoying the latest generation of speed-focused titles, I couldnt help but feel that Wipeout Pure was offering gameplay that was five years old. Considering how rapidly the industry changes, this is quite a difference from feeling new and fresh than feeling old and unsatisfying.
A second problem that is immediately noticeable with Wipeout Fusion is the games control. Somehow the developer has forgotten about the PSPs analogue control stick, and appears to have decided to quickly throw the support for the analogue stick in at the end of the games development. The truth is that the game controls considerably better with the D-pad, rather than the analogue stick. This is quite disappointing, as the analogue stick has the potential to provide thoroughly more accurate control than the D-pad, however, the developer has simply failed to use the analogue stick to its full potential.
Apart from the aforementioned problems, Wipeout Pure is a solid experience. The game offers a pleasing variety of different vehicles, many of them appearing in previous game incarnations, with such machines as the Feisar, Auricom and Triakis making a pleasing appearance. Each vehicle offers different contributes, which are based on the machines speed, handling, shield and thrust, ultimately affecting the players gameplay style. Selecting a vehicle that is fast and offers good controlling will be countered by its weak shield. On the opposite end, a bulky and heavily-armored vehicle will be slower but more sturdy than that of a nimble machine. Since your chosen ride will explode if it takes too much damage for its shield, it is essential to choose a vehicle that corresponds with your gameplay style.
A range of different weapons and gadgets are also on offer, which can be obtained simply by driving over markers that are situated throughout each of the games courses. The weapons range from explosive rockets through to walls of flame, causing satisfying carnage with any vehicle that it comes into contact with. Temporary shields, which prevent any damage being incurred for a limited period of time, auto pilot pickups that guide your vehicle around the track for a short period of time and fast boosts also aid in your quest to achieve the first place ranking.
Wipeout Pure offers a solid collection of single player modes. Single Race is available for those who wish to quickly jump into a race of their choosing, while the Tournament mode is available for those seeking some challenge. While the Tournament mode begins relatively easily, as you progress through the stages you will unlock further events to compete in, which gradually increase in difficulty. Those wishing to discover how fast they can complete three laps of any given track will be pleased to hear that a standard Time Trial mode is available, as is a Free Play mode that allows you to travel around any courses that you have unlocked at your own leisurely pace. One of the more interesting modes, however, is the Zone mode, which pits you into the control of a high-powered vehicle that is capable of reaching speeds in excess of three times more than your standard Wipeout vehicles. This mode provides a sense of speed that is equal to that felt when playing the earlier Wipeout outings. Furthermore, full multiplayer support, including the ability to go online, is available for those interested in participating in some multiplayer mayhem.
Visually, Wipeout Pure sticks to the series roots by providing a range of brightly coloured, futuristic courses that are visually impressive. While you wont have much chance to look at the environments closely, what is noticeable whilst racing is quite pleasing, complementing the games well-detailed vehicles.
While none of the games tracks are unforgettable, what is on offer does suit the game perfectly. A mixture of catchy, thumping beats helps to portray the games futuristic look and feel, with the occasional robot-like voices during menus and when beginning a new course complementing the games futuristic basing further.
While the game does offer an enjoyable experience once you get used to the awkward controls, Wipeout Pure just doesnt feel complete it feels somewhat tried and aged. Gameplay styles that worked several years ago will not necessarily work today, especially on a newer system, which has been clearly demonstrated in SCEEs latest addition to the famous series. While fans of the series will likely enjoy the game from start to finish, general racing fans will likely be more satisfied with Ridge Racer on the PSP.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.