Review by Gruel
"You think you pity me, Hey I'll kick your ass if you pity me!"
It's been awhile since I played a tried and true Wipeout game, the fledgling series hasn't been that talked about since its PSone days as not many people give the N64 or PS2 installments that much acclaim its 32-bit predecessors achieved. Old-school fans can now rejoice because Sony and Liverpool finally got it right with Wipeout Pure on the PSP, the best installment in the franchise in quite some time.
In case you don't remember the Wipeout series that well, it was one of the key games that defined the futuristic racing sub-genre, along with the legendary F-Zero. Pure brings back the intense gameplay the series was once known for. The thing about the races here is that every course has narrow stretches of track across combined with lethal hairpin turns that will require many practice runs to master as you compete in the various leagues Pure has to offer. It took me forever to get a good feel for the airbrakes, which will pretty much make or break you as you handle those ultra-tight turns.
That's the thing about Pure, once you get going and start hitting all the turbo zips, it is one hell of a fast and exhilarating experience. However, the moment you tap a wall, your machine slows to a crawl. This took me a while to overcome, and it still frustrates me to a minor extent whenever I keep running into every freaking wall. If you're the easily peeved gamer, than you probably will not like this at all as the races require a high learning curve. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the wide array of weapons and power-ups Pure has to offer. Shields, Turbos, Missiles, Mines, there is even a very handy auto-pilot pick-up I'm fond of when a tight set of turns is on the horizon.
Pure has all your standard gameplay modes expected out of any racer, but doesn't really go beyond much of that. There is the common single race and time trial options, and a free play mode that I highly recommend trying out every course on before you take on the competition. If you were expecting some in-depth career mode, then you probably will be disappointed. Instead, there is a tournament mode that consists of completing multiple four race circuits that greatly increase in difficulty. It is the main way of unlocking all the tracks and aircraft in the game. The one unique mode in here is Zone that that throws your craft on one special course divided into multiple zones. The craft is always accelerating, and the objective is to keep going until your craft retires when its shields are depleted.
For the solo gamer, once all the tracks are unlocked the only thing left to do is to keep playing them over until you get a gold medal in each of them to unlock a few other extra little goodies. The real fun is in multiplayer, and thankfully there is PSP WiFi adhoc support for up to eight players simultaneously. Sony also threw in the option for future downloadable content which may consist of additional crafts, tracks, and background tunes. I'm sure some of you are also aware of various online guides that manipulate the little downloadable content coming soon' screen that appears when you try to download extra content into a fully operational Internet browser. So if you really wanted to surf the web on the tiny PSP screen, the option is there once you fiddle around with your PSP unit the right way.
I am impressed with what the developers at Liverpool managed to muster out of the PSP. The track design is what stands out the most to me. There are many lush environments to be seen such as an underwater aquarium and vast stretches of mountains. The animations for many of the weapon effects are also well done, the one that sticks with me is a missile just missing its intended target and colliding with a wall that causes a cloud of debris that shoots across the track. Of course this can't be a Wipeout game without its instantly recognizable presentation. The menus still sport the unique lettering and pong-like symbols for the various item pick-ups. Speaking of series trademarks, another set of futuristic techno beats rounds out another immersive soundtrack that perfectly sets the tone for gameplay.
Just like the PSone entries, Pure isn't made for the typical gamer, and might not be as accessible as you were led to believe, as I stated above, this entry has a high learning to truly appreciate it for what it is. For the fans of the franchise that missed the old-school Wipeout they loved so dearly, its back in its classic form, hence the name Wipeout Pure. If you're one of the series older fans, make sure to pick this up as you won't be disappointed.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 04/29/05
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