As Max Power would say, "Strap yourself in and feel the Gs!"
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Australia
Sat, 17 September 2005
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Pure is a fitting name for this game. It is like a drug and I am totally hooked. Luckily though, aside from sore hands and falling behind with reviews, being a Wipeout Pure junkie is not severely harmful to one's health.
Wipeout was one of my first games for the original PlayStation and I am elated to see the series back in such great form on the PSP. Just like that first Wipeout on PSX, Pure is graphically awesome, making it an excellent showcase for the new system's power, as well as just being a genuinely great racing game. It requires plenty of concentration and skill at higher difficulty levels, so it should last you a very long time as you try to master the game. Sometimes the races get so intense that I noticed I was actually holding my breath as I played! Pretty crazy right? I can't remember the last time a game made me do that.
Wipeout Pure is set in a future world where people race in anti-gravity vehicles. They probably all wear silver jumpsuits and drink blue milk too, but I couldn't tell you for sure. Basically it is much like Nintendo's F-Zero (another favourite series of mine) only where those games are sort of cartoony, Wipeout goes for a more techno cool style vibe. The story of it makes no difference really, all you need to know is that there are a bunch of hovercraft type machines racing around outrageous tracks with multiple twists, undulations and jumps and they can travel at some incredible speeds. You can also pick up weapons (such as mines and missiles) that are strewn about the courses, which the competitors use to try and annihilate each other. I don't watch much motor racing in real life, but if it was like this I would definitely be more likely to become a fan.
|You're sure to get some attention going through the Macca's drive through in one of these babies |
The graphics of Wipeout Pure are impressive, damn impressive. The level of detail and various particle effects on offer make it look just as good as any PlayStation 2 game out there, which is quite extraordinary to behold on a handheld system. Thanks to the awesome clarity of the PSP screen everything in the game has an extremely crisp quality, it is like the difference in picture quality when a game is running on a regular TV screen and then you see it on a top quality monitor. There is an occasional drop in the frame rate when there's a whole lot going on at once, but this problem is never constant enough to ruin the eye candy tour de force. Some portions of Wipeout Pure are so amazing to look at that I actually crashed a few times early on because I was distracted by the scenery.
The sound effects and techno soundtrack are absolutely first class as well. I wouldn't usually listen to this kind of electronic music myself, as it is just not my cup of tea, but it suits the game perfectly and really adds to the atmosphere and adrenaline rush of it all. With the headphones on and the sound cranked up the sound is fantastic. I especially love the cool wave effect a force field makes when activated.
Wipeout Pure is not just a pretty face though, there's some killer gameplay here. Don't come in thinking that the game is going to be easy, just because it isn't a sim. You'll be in for quite a shock. On the beginner levels the game is pretty easy to get through, but after that it starts to get challenging. The more you progress the faster it gets (and the vehicles are harder to steer) and your opponents also become steadily more aggressive and capable. This is what I'd describe as a gamer's game. It is pretty simple to pick up and play, but to truly master it will require a great deal of commitment. It has gotten a few swearing fits out of me, but I always know that I'm going to keep coming back for more punishment. You do get some good payoffs for your work too. Not only is it extremely satisfying when you finally get that gold medal on a particularly tough track, there are also several new courses and vehicles to be found as unlockable rewards. On top of that are the downloadable extras you can access from the Wipeout Pure website. So all up this game has plenty of stuff to keep you happily playing for ages.
When you pick up weapons you can either try to use them against your opponents or absorb them to renew some of your ship's energy, which is important as if it runs completely out you will explode and be out of the running entirely. You also have to remember that since they are hovercrafts, the vehicles are quite "floaty" and require you to tilt the nose up or down to gain or reduce speed at key points of each track. So there's some definite tactical elements to the races. Learning the layout of each course and trying out different vehicles (they all have subtle differences) to find which work best for you is important if you want to succeed.
|Here's where I make the obligatory comment that the courses are like roller coasters |
At first I played using the directional buttons to steer. Eventually I switched to the analogue nub and I recommend that people play it that way from the start; it takes a while to get the hang of but it really feels much better in the long run. The shoulder buttons are used as air brakes for sharp left or right turns. The controls are all very responsive and the only problem I've had is that occasionally my left index finger gets a bit sore from using the shoulder button, requiring me to take a break from playing. I think that's more the shape of the PSP than a problem with the game though.
I don't know what else I can tell you, I f*#king love this game. I have invested many hours in it already and I'm only just getting started. If you have a PSP, this is one of the true essential purchases for the system in my opinion. Wipeout Pure brings the series back into the position of kicking arse, which is where it belongs. Now that Special K has a PSP as well, we'll have to try out the wireless multiplayer modes!
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Wipeout Pure looks great, sounds great, feels great and is great.