Review: Wipeout Pure offers up an experience that's pure fun.
Another Sony hardware launch, another Wipeout launch title. In 1995, Psygnosis released the original Wipeout along with the console launch of the original Playstation. The original was applauded for its originality, super fast gameplay, and introduction of CD-quality licensed music to videogames. Fast forward ten years later, and Wipeout is once again a fixture in Sony's launch lineup but this time as a handheld title.
Wipeout Pure was developed by Studio Liverpool, the same folks that brought us Wipeout Fusion for PS2. Although Wipeout Fusion was a good futuristic racer, many changes were implemented in Fusion that alienated some fans of the series. Luckily, Studio Liverpool was aware of this and not only made changes to make Pure play more like the original Wipeout and its sequel Wipeout XL, but it also trimmed a lot of the fat. What's left is Wipeout in its purest form. Does this PSP version do the franchise justice, or does it fall short of greatness? Read on and find out.
Visually speaking, Pure is not only the prettiest Wipeout to date, but it's also the prettiest PSP game to date. There are tons of effects in play at any given moment, from explosions and weapon effects, to lens flare and a beautiful fluffy white colored sky in the background. It's almost hard to believe that this can be accomplished on a handheld. This is not only a testament to what the PSP can do, but what a huge leap Studio Liverpool has made between Fusion and Pure. Fusion in comparison had dated visuals even for its time and the level design, although good was not as good as its predecessor Wipeout XL. The texture variety and level design in Pure are the two main reasons why it's so impressive visually. The textures vary from metropolitan landscapes to neon lit edifices and even icy cold catacombs.
The only drawback to Pure's visuals is minor framerate issues that arose when the racing got hectic. This has only happened a handful of times in the most strenuous of situations and never made a direct impact to the gameplay. Still, it's something that is noticeable enough to point out although it never bogged down the gameplay. Aside from that, Wipeout Pure is one of the prettiest futuristic racers, console or handheld.
The Wipeout series has always been synonymous with techno music by renowned artists of the genre and Pure is no different. Although I'm not necessarily a fan of the genre, the music fits in perfectly within the game. Seeing as techno music is not my cup of tea, here is a full song list for those who are curious:
Onyx - Cold Storage
Kinection - Cosmos
Twister - Drumattic Twins
Cross The Line - Elite Force
Grand Theft - Freq Nasty
We Got Juice - Friendly
Room 2 - Jay Tripwire
Flu-Shot - LFO
Hellion - Ming + FS
Ignition - Paul Hartnoll
C Note - Photek
Black Jack 3 - Plum DJs
Bug - Rennie Pilgrem & Roxkiller
The System - T Power
Night Mover - Stanton Warriors
Crafty Youth - Tayo Meets Acid Rockers Uptown
Mean Red - Then Rock
Gold Rush - Tiesto
Naks Acid - Aphex Twin
Not only is the music great, but the sound design shines as well. All of the music, sound effects, and voices are crystal clear, and directional audio is used to great effect when appropriate. Overall I was very pleased with Pure's sound and it shows off what the PSP can do.
Wipeout Pure has a total of 5 different one player modes: Single Race, Tournament, Time Trail, Zone, and Free Run. Most of these are fairly self-explanatory, with the exception of Zone and Tournament. Zone mode races you through static courses where the object isn't to win a race, but see how long you can last. With every lap that you complete, your vehicle speeds up, making it harder to navigate. Every time you bump a wall, a little bit of your shield is diminished until finally you crash and burn. Each lap has different zones within it and you have to endure a pre-determined amount of zones in order to receive a medal. Collecting medals unlocks a different zone track (there are four total). This is a fun mode that I always come back to when I feel like playing the game, but don't feel like playing against the AI.
Tournament mode pits you against seven other AI controlled racers to compete through a series of races in order to place for a medal. On the track you have both speed pads and weapon pads that can be utilized. Speed pads obviously give you a speed boost when driven over them and weapon pads randomly give you a weapon out of the choices available.
There are a bevy of choices as far as weapons are concerned from the standard homing missiles and rockets found in most games to a few other more unique choices. Quake for example, causes a seismic earthquake that tears through the ground in front of you incapacitating any opponents directly ahead for a few seconds. Auto Pilot isn't a weapon; it lets the computer take over your driving for 5 seconds. This is great to use to navigate through turns that give you problems because it almost always makes the perfect turn for you. Disruption bolt is a bolt of power that is able to disengage airbrakes, reverse your controls, or impair what you see. This weapon is probably the worst to have done on you because it can make you fall way behind if you don't anticipate it coming. All of the weapons are great in their own right except they are woefully unbalanced between user and AI. When the user is firing upon an AI opponent, it seems as though your opponent is only incapacitated for a moment. On the other hand when they are used against you, you are incapacitated far longer. This can grow to be frustrating at times when you are trying to play catch up and your weapons aren't helping you as much as they are helping your opponents.