Review by mikaa

"Wipeout any doubt of this game's quality from your mind..."

Single-handedly, this is the best PSP game on the market at the time of this review. It is also the best of the "Next-gen" portables that I have had the privelage to play (Note - systems included are DS, PSP, and N-Gage).

For anyone who knows me (all five of you), I have been a strong supporter for the DS ever since it's E3 debut, and a strong fighter against the PSP. And you are probably wondering why I am saying this. Or maybe you have read between the lines, and know what I am about to say.

Or maybe you are just wanting me to admit that this game blew me away - with the Sample UMD Disk trailer alone.

Yes, this game sold me from a mere minute or two trailer from the sample UMD disk that comes with the PSP at this time. I rarely buy games based on looks, having learned that only a few games can be judged by looks alone (Zelda games, for instance).

But something about the game tugged at me. I don't know why, as I rarely play racing games for more than a few days, and the option of upgrading your cars and using them in differient tourneys just never appealed to me. Even party racing games like Mario Kart never really kept my interest.

So why have I presented information that could simply be summed up with "I'm not a racing fan?" Simple:

Everything I usually hate about racing games, I simply love in Wipeout Pure.

I don't know what it is, or why I love a game made by a company that I rarely will support. But it is hard to deny the quality of the game. Graphically, audio-wise, handling, and options, this racer will actually stay in my library of games far longer than even my most favorite of RPGs.

But enough of my vague praise: to the review.

First, graphically, it is indescribable. The PSP's massive screen allows for much larger images than the DS, GBA, NGPC, N-Gage, or... Heck, the sheer size of it makes any other game seem dreadfully inferior. And the amazing part is that not a single area of the screen is set to waste.

A few small graphic displays show your health meter, your speed, time, item, and position. These things are no differient than any other racer, but they are arranged on the screen so as to not fill it with useless clutter like most portable games. This allows the gamer to witness the massive landscapes and obstacles before him, as well as any racers before him.

Did I also mention that the neatness and well-designed heads-up display also does not detract from the absolutely gorgeous graphics?

The designs of the ships, when the camera rotates around them at the start, seem to be about average PS2 quality (take that as you will), but as they move, you tend to not notice any possible flaws, instead drawn to the smooth framerate, the awe-inspiring backgrounds of the future, and of the speed.

Yes, this game conveys speed like no other portable racer that I have played. And while I admit that I have not played either of the newer Ridge Racer games, this game is the fastest I have played on the go since... ... ...

While I try to think of a faster game, let's move on, shall we?

Also, one side note on the graphics - the menus are very nice, and while a bit bland and basic in a sense, the simplicity, coupled with the nice graphical design, really fit the game. And did I mention that this simplicity allows for less loading time?

Soundwise, I didn't find myself humming tracks hours after I had played them, but the music didn't make me want to mute the game. Nice music accompanies the game, though nothing extremely memorable. I do have to give kudos to the designers for allowing the gamer to choose the menu theme from a selection of tracks. Nice touch, if pointless.

Control is one of the few low-points, but we'll get to the negatives in a sec. First on the positives, the game supports both Analog AND Digital, which allows those that still stick with the digital (me and two others out there) to play with comfort. Left and Right on either control pad moves left or right, up and down don't seem to have a major effect on the game that I have found, and the shoulder buttons either brake or allow you to shift, depending on the control setup you choose.

X accellerates the car, Square fires/activates the powerup, Circle absorbs the powerup into your vehicle for a health boost, and Triangle allows you to look behind you.

Let us now adress the minus - the Triangle button's function. While a nice feature, rarely will you be able to view behind you, as even a second away from driving can see you blown into a million pieces as you smack a wall or mine. Nice idea, but not really useful.

Game play for multiplayer is supposedly good, but I can't comment on it, as I am the only one in my neighborhood that currently owns a PSP that I have found.

SINGLE player, on the other hand, is great, in-so-far as single player racing options go. You have your "Arcade" style single track, a Tourney mode with four tracks to race (with the occasional 8 track race), differient speed classes of the tracks, a time trial, a Free Drive mode where you can race a "ghost" of your craft after every lap, and, finally, a warped mode called "Zone."

It is the latter mode that both facinates me and infuriates me; Zone has you on a wacky track that has you racing at breakneck speeds, going from zone to zone, trying to get as far as you can.

The trick is that, in order to do well, you must have almost full mastery of the controls to get as far as a Bronze Medal, as the tracks go VERY fast after a few seconds. This gets VERY HARD as the speed can (and will) cause you to slam every other wall as you try to regain control of your craft.

And yet, despite this, it is one of the most fun parts of the game. I've spent countless hours trying this mode, enjoying it for the challenge, and giggling like a school girl when I get a Silver Medal or pass Zone 20.

Getting back to the other options, I'm not one for timed races, and the tourney mode is dissapointing in that you cannot save in mid-tourney. But the Free Roam move is great, as the "ghost" car option makes setting times fun and challenging. Single mode is a nice destraction, and gets better as you unlock other goodies.

Replay value is determined by whether or not you can use the WLAN or wireless play modes with another player. I have not been able to, and am unable to comment on these features.

One nice thing about the Memory Stick for the PSP, and one that really helps this game, is the idea that you can download upgrades, cars, tracks, and other options at a later time, should Sony wish it. Just a nice thought.

Finally, the load times for this game are some of the shortest that I have seen on the PSP, with only Dynasty Warriors besting it. At most thirty seconds on average, with the rare one minute wait, the load times are there, are noticable, but are far from killing the great game.

Overal, this is a great game, one that this anti-racing fan found to be very appealing. Just one thing really holds it down - the one fact that always hurts a racer:

Without multiplayer, the replay value is halved.

But even without the Multiplayer, it is a great buy, easily worth the US$40 price tag, and EASILY better than any of the racers the DS has (or is going to have in the near future). And while the replay is shorter for those that cannot use multiplayer, it will keep you busy until Grand Theft Auto or Tales of Eternia are released.

Final Score: 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/31/05

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