Review by Galactus21
"Is your adrenaline pumping yet?"
If you asked me what my least favorite genre is, my answer would be racing games. To be honest, racing games have always been a genre that was very repetitive to me. In all fairness, I have not played many racers, but from the few that I have played, it was tedious and simply boring. Now insert Wipeout Pure, a futuristic racer that follows in the footsteps of F-Zero. I never thought highly of the racing genre, but if I were to pick any racers to play it would be a futuristic racer. There are several reasons, futuristic racers generally have faster gamplay, which strays from the tedious racing simulators, and it distances itself from realism, which helps me unwind. With all the fps, rpgs, and action titles that I play, a game like this would offer a more relaxing atmosphere rather then worrying about upgrading my car. It lets me just step into the action and enjoy myself for a short period of time. And that is what Wipeout Pure offers; a game that offers an easy transition, yet, the game also offers an intense and competitive atmosphere that players will definitely find very attractive. A redeeming factor for Wipeout Pure is the easiness of the transition. No matter what game you have been playing, Wipeout is an easy game to get into and allows for breaks in between other games.
In the distant future, racing is taken to a whole new level. Anti-gravity racing is faster, more dangerous, more intense, and more competitive. However, given the context of the sport, only a few brave racers keep this adrenaline pumping sport alive. The reason for this is the dismantling of its former league. Racing fans and racers have been waiting for the day where they can showcase their skills to the public once again. Well that day has come; eight teams put their collective efforts into preparing for the upcoming race. This new league is known as the FX300 and these people prepare themselves for a grueling and intense competition. So ladies and gentlemen, get ready to start your engines, and prepare yourselves for the ride of your life.
Start Your Engines
Perhaps the biggest surprise to me is the initial WOW factor. Having a pessimistic view on the genre, I was completely blown away be the intense and addictive fast gameplay that Wipeout Pure offers. The sense of spend and the sense of fluidity are so nice in this game that it is hard to describe. For one the game's pacing moves at incredible speeds that game itself is a frantic, yet very balanced game all at the same time. The game has several difficulties and each offers a different sense of speed. Given my relatively newbie friendly attitude towards the genre, I started on the easiest setting that was available, however, as my skills improved, I moved onto higher levels, and each level provided higher speeds, which made the game more intense and much more difficult. Unlike most racers, the game's sense of speed is incredible. On several occasions one can expect to be going at speeds that are synonymous with planes and jets.
While there are several difficulties, one will find out very soon that even the easiest setting is quite challenging at first (Especially to a racing newbie like me). On several occasions the computer would place mines or bombs with quick precision. When I mean precise, I mean the computer puts it in places that has a high chance where a competitor will hit it. For example, one time I was going down a straight path with a sharp curve at the end, one of the competing racers placed a bomb right at the corner of that sharp turn. Several racers that were trying to make that turn slammed into that mine, which caused a big collision and slowed us down. Competing racers will also place bombs and mines right on boost platforms. This is a well planned out strategy because another racer cannot get a boost without taken damage to itself.
If you can't beat them...Beat Them!
An unique aspect about Wipeout Pure is the addition of weapons. The before mentioned bombs and mines are used to keep racers that are behind you from catching or passing you. Now other weapons can also be used to take out or slow down racers that are in front of you. These weapons are very well balanced because they are not overpowering. Mostly, a player will find it relatively hard to hit an opponent with these weapons, simply because the player is moving at speeds that cannot be fathomed today. There are other items that can help you along the way, for instance an item that allows you to accelerate at incredible speeds and a shield that protects your vehicle from damage. These weapons can be seen throughout the course. They are usually colored and touching them will allow you to use these weapons.
With all the weapons and items that can be used, one can infer that this game is quite chaotic and rightfully so because this game is just that. It is frantic, it is chaotic, it has an overwhelming sense of speed, and it offers gameplay mechanics that will keep players coming back for more and more. The game's speed also makes it a bit unpredictable on the outcome of the race. For example if one gets hit once by lets say a disruptor or a mine this can drastically affect the outcome of the race. You can fall from first to last in a matter of seconds, trust me, it has happened to me on several occasions.
The game already has a high accelerate rate, which makes this game so enjoyable, but by adding boosting platforms this game can become simply astonishing. Like the weapons, these boosting platforms can be seen throughout the course. They are white with a silvery look to them. If one touches a few of these in a row, one can make up ground quite quickly. In fact, this is what balances the game out somewhat, because one will always start off last. With this disadvantage, the developers compensated for it by allowing for these platforms. These platforms can also be a disadvantage at times because on several occasions, a competing racer would get that last platform and beat me out and become first. However, this is partially because the A.I is quite good, in fact the A.I will do a great job at keeping pace with you and you can also expect them to suddenly pass you in the late moments of a race. The game's difficulty is also based on one's witticism and one's ability to adapt to the tracks of course.
Wipeout Pure has an assortment of modes, each with its own unique flavor. You can test your own abilities by trying the time trials or you can compete for medals in a tournament. The tournament is where I get my bang out of this game. I simply cannot resist the temptation of another medal on my resume. Perhaps it is my competitive nature or perhaps it is the game's addictive gameplay. It is probably a mishmash of both, which sucks the player in and never lets go. There are also several unlockables that keeps this game fresh and enjoyable.
This game also has a good variation in vehicles. Each vehicle has its pros and cons. A vehicle that is very fast can be extremely effective in a linear race; however, the same cannot be said if the course has a lot of sharp turns. In this instance, the player would be wise to choose a vehicle with better handling. Depending on the situation, the player can choose their own vehicle accordingly. Each vehicle will have its own shield and this shield will protect the vehicle against instant destruction. This barrier will not last forever, but it does help one's vehicle from going down to quickly.
Perhaps the biggest downfall to the game is its steep learning curve. Yes, I am unfamiliar with the racing genre, but even with that said, I think many people will find this game challenging, especially when one gets to the harder difficulties. There will be times where the A.I seems a bit cheap and while this point can be argued, for the most part the game is pretty fair. An aspect that could have been handled better was one's own placement at the start of the race. Starting each race in last place? Seems a bit unfair and throw in the fact that the initial boost that one gets has little to no effect. I noticed a problematic pattern where I was in last for the better part of the first lap and I wouldn't gain momentum until later laps. Perhaps this is due to my unfamiliarity of the genre or perhaps this was a design flaw. Whichever it is, the game on its own merits is simply a great game that anyone can enjoy.
One mind blowing aspect is the game's beautiful and rich environments. The PSP is without a doubt an amazing piece of hardware. I was simply blown away by its graphical capabilities. Wipeout Pure not only features a very colorful and lush environment, but with all the frantic action going on, the game runs at a very consistent and fluid frame rate. The tracks have great variation and it shows what a competent developer can do. The superb track designs and the lush graphics make this game simply irresistible. In one level, the rain effects were simply amazing, I was left breathless, and I was simply amazed how a portable can rival the current set of consoles. The PSP just launched and it already has a game that rivals some of the game's on the Playstation 2. All I can say is that Sony has done a great job at designing this piece of hardware.
The musical score is very straightforward, but it does set a mood. The music consists of techno beats and each tune and beat consists of a beat that is reminiscent of a futuristic outlook. The soundtrack has great variety and it rarely gets tedious to listen to. Even with that said, the choice of music is not my favorite. Sure it sets a mood, but a different form of music here and there would have been nice. However the musical soundtrack that is offered is quite nice and has some solid variation. There are also instances where one can hear a robotic female voice mumble a few words. It is hard to hear at times due to the intense nature of the races, but in all honesty I wish they would have abolished her voice.
With an assortment of unlockables, a great sense of speed, solid fundamentals, and addictive gameplay, Wipeout Pure is one game that will keep you occupied for a long time. The game intertwines many core mechanics that makes this game a highly enjoyable one. I have spent a good three days just playing this game nonstop. I have played it for hours on hours each day and so far I still cannot get enough of it. If one can look past its steep learning curve, one will find a highly addictive game to be played here.
As a racer, Wipeout Pure is simply my favorite and as game it is one of the better games that I have played in recent memory. Through a series of nicely rounded factors, the game presents itself in a manner that can only be described as coherent. Throughout the course of the game, I never felt out of place and I felt enthralled in the game's experience the whole time. From the game's lush graphics to its unique style of racing, this game is definitely a winner.
Blazing Past the Finish Line
If you would bend a man, abandon all the usual means. Do not bother with psychology or diplomacy or even war; if you would bend a man, not just influence him or sway him or even convince him but bend him, do it with ritual. And he will respond to it without hesitation, without thought, almost without knowledge, certainly without will. David Bradley (The Chaneysville Incident)
From the few racers that I have played, I must say Wipeout Pure is one of the most enjoyable ones. For someone who isn't particularly a racing fan to enjoy this game, Wipeout Pure will definitely appeal to those that do enjoy the genre. For those that do enjoy the racing genre, they can expect an accelerated ride full of intensity and pure speed. I haven't been just influenced or swayed or even convinced I have been literally and utterly bent. Let me explain, before this game I had a downward outlook on the genre and with Wipeout Pure's amazing experience, I have not only been swayed or influenced, but I have been bent to a point where I actually love a racer. The developers did an amazing job at crafting a game that anyone can enjoy and without hesitation or knowledge, I soon found myself addicted to its exhilarating experience. What more can a guy ask for? For a genre that I do not particularly like, I found myself loving every minute and will probably continue to love every minute of Wipeout Pure. What better recommendation can I give? None that I can think of. With the PSP's brilliant launch lineup, Wipeout Pure is perhaps the brightest of them all. Anybody looking to get a PSP will find that this game has a lot to offer and while there are other great launch titles to get, Wipeout Pure should be in everyone's PSP at some point in time.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/05/05, Updated 07/17/06
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