Review by BradHummr
"WipEout Pure is a short but sweet racing title, now if only there were more to it."
There is a small backround story, but I don't count it as an actual story. Anti-Gravity Racing has died out, but is not entirely gone. Fans of AG racing kept it alive by organizing races on fan-made tracks. Then, an AG Racing festival is hosted and many amateur racers joined in on the event. Ten years later, those amateurs are now professional racers and AG Racing is back in all it's glory. A pretty good backstory for a racing game, but it really has no impact on the game itself which is why I am not giving it a score.
When the game first starts, you are treated to a CGI opening featuring.....color and shapes. Not the racers themselves, you get to watch a bunch of lines and symbols form with different colors. It really makes no sense, but I enjoyed it anyway. The menus are boringly futuristic. They are plain white with some pale pink and orange text colors. The more you look at it, the more you wish there were some darker colors. At the bottom of the screen, whenever you highlight anything, it gives a description of the item. Very useful and a great addition to the game. The menus are simple and easy to navigate, as is everything else. A good presentation, but it could seriously benefit from more colors.
I'd like to now talk about basically how the game is played and progressed. Your objective in almost everything, is to race as fast as you can, wipe out opponents and make it to the finish line first. From when you first start a race, it is a rush to first place. From there, you aim to hit as many boost pads as possible and hit every weapon pad possible. The boost pads provide a great burst of speed and are most of the time crucial to staying up with the rest of the pack. The game isn't very forgiving, miss a boost pad near the end and the entire race could be wasted. Heck, even if you hit every one dead on, your opponent could fire a cheap shot and pass you at the very end. This makes the game pretty frustrating, especially when you've raced your heart out only to be passed at the last second.
Weapon pads are designed a lot better however. When you fly over one, you get a random weapon. It could be Disruptors, 5 Spiky Mines, One Big mine, Missles, Shields, Autopilot and more. Getting hit by a weapon drops your ship to a near stop, but the same happens for your opponents. Some weapons are easy to use, like Autopilot, Missles and Speed Boosts, while others are frustratingly difficult to attack with. There is never a lack of weapons, except for when you need them most it seems, so there are always mines to avoid and speed boosting ships to catch.
As you get attacked your ship takes damage and loses power. It runs the same, but there is a bar that shows your health left. Once it is brought down to nothing, your ship explodes. This is not a huge problem, you respawn pretty quickly and really get no penalty. However, because of the game's unforgivingness, it is best to try to keep your ship charged. How do you keep it charged? When you pick up a weapon, you can use it or convert it to energy. The amount of energy it replenishes depends on the weapon absorbed. This aspect of the game is a nice touch and really adds some strategy to an otherwise boring race.
Being a sci-fi racer with flying race machines, the player would expect a great sense of speed. That rarely happens. There are several reasons for this, part of it being the controls, your racer is often so hard to control that you have to hold down the brake for an especially long time to take a corner, thus losing much needed and wanted speed. Another reason, is because the tracks clearly are not designed for speed. Most of them have turn, after turn, after turn. Some of that tracks are built for speed and they are quite enjoyable, but there are too many of them that require you to slog your way though. Even when your flying around at over 300 MPH, it just doesn't satisfy. I'm not begging for a blur effect, I just wanted to move a little faster.
There really is no point to go through Tournament mode, most everything is there from the start. This fact seriously brings down the player's motivation to beat this. What is the point? Extreme frustration for what? Luckily, to make up for the lackluster Tournament mode, there is your standard Single Race and Time Trial modes, along with another mode called 'Zone'. In Zone mode, you are placed on an exclusive track in an exclusive racer. As the laps continue, your racer picks up more and more speed, which you cannot control. There is no way of replenishing health and the Zone ends when you run out. It is a pretty basic mode, but it is tons of fun and actually delivers the speed that I was hoping for.
Time Trial mode is often really fun, but in order to save your track ghost, you must make another file on your memory stick almost as large as your game save. This really takes up space on small sticks quickly and adds a lot of unwanted track ghost saves on your 'Saved Data Utility' on the PSP. Luckily, after you go a lap, a temporary ghost ship of the run you just made appears, so you can challenge yourself without needing to create tons of game files.
You have the ability to choose one of eight ships to race in. There are no characters to choose as your driver. The racers, while cool looking, are nothing special. None of them have especially good stats except for the exclusive Zone mode racer, which is not available to play during other modes. It would've been nice to have some more racer variety and some sort of driver, this just leaves your character blank and unimportant.
Graphics in WipEout Pure are very nice. Every racer is detailed right down to the decorations and they all move fluidly (Brake flaps opening, turning corners, getting pummeled by weapons) even in the heat of a race. The framerate stays pretty consistant throughout the game, dropping only a small bit with lots of racers and weapons on-screen. The levels themselves look good also. There is a ton of repetitive textures and scenery, but there is also quite a load of large TV monitors, ad screens and writing everywhere. It's worth it to go really slow through the levels to admire the messages, while unreadable, and animations hidden within the levels. Everything looks great in the levels and it is never blocky or blurry. Some items are especially grainy, but overall the game looks great. Any flaws with the graphics cannot usually be noticed while moving anyway.
The controls for WipEout Pure are pretty simple. X is your gas pedal and you steer with the d-pad or analog nub. Braking is accomplished by using L and R, pressing the respective button will open the flaps. That's about all there is, although there is a barrel roll you can pull of in mid-air. When you land, it takes away power and give you a speed boost. The controls may be simple, but it sure is a hassle to control your ship. It slides when cornering (especially at high speed) so the tail-end of your racer will usually bump the wall and lose all your precious momentum. This is extremely frustrating and is the main reason I lose so many races.
WipEout Pure features a techno soundtrack that fits the atmosphere of the game really well. Some of the tunes are catchy, but some others can be pretty annoying. Luckily, every song can be turned on or off so the ones you dislike will never be played. The sound effects are nothing special. Everything sounds clear and appropriate, racers hum, speed boosts WHOOSH and weapons fire. An electronic male and female voice are in-game, they warn you of dropped mines and other weapons opponents have just used, they award you medals and speak when Autopilot is activated. While nothing new, these voices add some, if only a little, much-needed personality to the game.
Value: 5.5/10 (Really depends on how much you pay for it) [For this section, I am pretending you are about to shell out at least $20 for this game. I only paid $5 for it (Case manual and game) but I doubt most people would find it at such a price. If you do find it for $5, the value is 10/10. For five bucks, you can't go wrong.]
WipEout Pure is a fairly short game. Most things can can be accomplished in around four hours of play time. There are a few cool tracks that I go back and play often, plus the Zone mode is really fun, but overall you will simply play this for a few hours and set it aside.
Rent? Or Buy?
With how cheap this game is, you really can't go wrong buying it. If you must spend $20-$30 dollars to buy it, don't go for it. There just isn't enough in the game to warrant a purchase that high. If you can find somewhere to rent it, that might be a better choice. However, you could probably own the game for the same price of a rental. So look around a few places, maybe even online.
This game isn't as good as people claim it to be. It's short, generic and gets boring very quickly. There are lots of better racers on PSP than this, but it is worthy of a play-through. Also, at prices around $5-$10, it's worth a purchase.
(NOTE: Final score is NOT an average.)
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 02/22/08
Game Release: Wipeout Pure (US, 03/16/05)
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