Review by solidsnakeRAY

Reviewed: 01/12/06

Purely Amazing

This was the first game I picked up for my PSP, and I was iffy about buying it. I had been a fan of sci-fi racers like extreme-G or Kinetica, but the thing I liked about those games was the sense of speed and the graphics involved with them. So did I get what I want out of this game? You’re damn right I did.

Gameplay: 10/10
The basic premise of this game is that you control a futuristic racing hovercraft that is capable of breaking incredible speeds. Your objective is to win at any costs, even if it means destroying other ships along the way. In each level there are many objects to collect that can aid you in achieving victory, including everything from missiles to speed boosts. Speed pads that give you an extra acceleration boost are also an important aspect of the game, especially when used effectively. It is possible to blow up an opponent, and some weapons do quite a bit of damage. That combined with hitting them into oncoming mines from other opponent or simply slamming them into walls will merit a much mangled ship.

I’m not really sure if it’s the PSP or the game itself, but regardless, the controls are excellent. The top two triggers on the PSP are used as the air brakes, with the right and left controlling the corresponding brake. This adds a new element of skill, as you need to know when and how to use the brakes appropriately. It’s not overdone to the point of frustration either, which is nice. You can change the controller button layout if you’re used to something else, or just plain don’t like the original layout. The joystick works nicely, and can actually be combined with use of the D-Pad to get the best run time on a track.

One area Wipeout Pure really excelled at was its amazing use of the online world. You can now go to any hotspot and race against players worldwide. It’s quite weird to be playing someone on a portable system that’s actually located 2500 miles away from you, but it just shows how freaking awesome and well designed Wipeout Pure really is. Besides its online racing potential, there’s downloadable content that seems to be never ending. New skins and levels come with every pack that you download, adding more races, more tournaments, and more visuals. In a few there’s also new music and new ships, which to some, is a blessing. You do need a bigger memory card than the standard one that PSP came with to play all these packages, but I never regarded that as much of an issue anyway. WP took more advantage of going online than most PS2 games did, especially with new content that keeps the game fresh.

Level Design: 9/10
Ahh, the joy of flying around futuristic courses with beautiful lighting, interesting designs, skillful turns, huge speedways, and awesome coloring, all at 400 mph. Probably one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game are the levels, which, needless to say, are some of the best in any virtual track. They take a lot of skill to master yet are fun enough for the casual gamer, who may not like figuring out how to break perfectly for every corner. The only complaint (and I do mean the ONLY one) is that some levels just seem a little bit too hard for someone to beat it on the higher difficulty levels. This is partly because they either have a particularly difficult section where a very skilled turn is required, or because you’re going too fast and slamming into too many corners. You take a lot of damage when you fly into a wall at a higher speed. I didn’t have too much of a problem though, and practicing it a few times always helped. A vivid aspect that you’ll notice in the levels is the color. There’s one specific level that’s available for download that is almost all red, except the red has a very neon glow to it and it’s a change from all the techno blue and gray and whatnot. Very smart on WP’s part.

This was probably the second best aspect of this game, second only to the gameplay itself. I loved the levels and the different designs given to them and if it wasn’t for the small difficulty factor, this section would have been a given 10.

Difficulty: 10/10
I really do believe that this game has the perfect balance of difficulty. There are five levels of difficulty that you can play this game at, but the only way to unlock the final three levels is to complete the tournaments in the current highest difficulty. What this does is “prep” you for each upcoming difficulty, and it’s not so much of a leap. A useful feature for those who are new to the series and need to be slowly broken in, and also for veterans who need to refresh their skills.

Graphics: 9/10
For the most part, my section of level design already gave my opinion on the graphics, but the designs of the ships are worth mentioning as well. They have a sleek look to them and aren’t overly done, keeping them with the tradition of the Wipeout series. The downloadable ships are especially cool-looking, and one of the unlockable ships is downright badass. A livery mode can also be unlocked, which enables the ability to switch the colors of almost all the ships.

Sound: 9/10
The music is mostly trance (duh), and the actual quality of it isn’t bad at all. Combined with a good pair of headphones, there’s a lot of potential for a very high quality soundtrack. Once again, the ability for WP to download content expands on this region, and more songs are added in the packages that are released. Considering I’m from the generation of where the Gameboy had good sound, to hear such quality is quite amazing.

In game effects sound much like they should. Accelerating off a boosting pad produces a big “fwoosh” sound and missiles explode with a loud “boom”. Plus all of the ships colliding into each other and speeding right into a row of mines produces a deafening explosion with a brilliant flash of light. It’s almost as if you’re in the game itself.

Replay Ability: 9/10
Wipeout Pure has a lot of value in the replay department. Aside from all the online racing and racing against the computer, there’s also the time attack mode. Getting gold in all of the time attack is just as difficulty as winning the tournaments in single player. Zone is the other mode that’s available to play. You’re in a special ship that can’t break or slow down, but has max stats. At first you start out slow, but with each lap that you complete, you go faster and faster. This is one of the best and most unique modes on WP.

Downloadable content adds quite a bit to the gaming experience, and with all the content downloaded for the American game, there’s 180+ gold medals to attain, and even more in the Japanese version. The drawback to all of these extra ships, levels, and music is that it can lose the interest of someone who is not a real strong fan of the racing genre. Getting 180+ medals can be tedious, especially if you have to repeat a race or time trial multiple times. Aside from that, and I think this game is addicting enough to overcome the tediousness, WP has a lot to offer.

Overall: 9.5/10
I never thought I could enjoy a game on a portable system this much. I ended up playing my PSP more than my other game consoles, and this game was the sole reason of that. From the speed to the levels, this game damn near perfect. Buy or rent? Buy it, and then buy it again because it’s just that great.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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