E3 2001 Hands-onWipeout Fusion

Sony shows off the PlayStation 2 installment in its futuristic high-speed racing series, and we have hands-on impressions straight from the floor at E3.

The Wipeout series has always set itself apart from the rest of the racing crowd with dynamic level design, slick packaging, and top-notch licensed electronic soundtracks. We played a very early demo of Wipeout Fusion for the PlayStation 2 that Sony had on the show floor, and it looks to continue a lot of the trends established in the previous games, as well as add a few new twists.

With the look and feel of the Wipeout games being a major component, it is worth mentioning that The Designer's Republic, the design firm who originally crafted the packaging and level design of the first Wipeout games, has been replaced by competing design firm Good Technology. This change in lineup gives the game a fresh feel, though it still retains the same neo-modern sensibilities of past Wipeout games, with ultrastylized crafts and dynamic interface design.

The design firm may have changed, but it seems to have had little effect on the game's controls, as Wipeout Fusion has retained the tight control of Wipeout XL. The level design expands on the extreme track design in Wipeout 3, with lots of big banked turns, loops in the track, and huge drops. The sensation of speed in the demo was even more impressive than in previous Wipeout games. Sony reps claimed that the one playable craft in the demo was of the lowest vehicle class, giving Fusion the potential to outspeed its ancestors.

The graphics appear a bit rough around the edges, with lots of aliasing and a couple of nasty bouts of slowdown. But the game has potential, with lots of promising lighting and particle effects implemented in the weapons and a nice dust effect that was kicked up by the crafts on an unpaved section of the track.

The soundtracks in the Wipeout games have always been exceptional, and Fusion will likely be no exception to this. There was no music in the demo, however a billboard for techno act Utah Saints was spotted on the track. Sony reps would neither confirm nor deny if Utah Saints were in fact on the soundtrack, though they did state that several high-profile electronic music outfits have expressed great interest in appearing on the game's soundtrack.

We will have more information on this fast-paced racer as it becomes available.

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