Psygnosis is attempting to repeat the success of the original Wipeout with the latest version in the series for the Sony PlayStation 2. In many ways Wipeout Fusion borrows from the first Wipeout, which appealed to a mainstream gaming audience. Of course, there has also been plenty of new features added to the PS2 incarnation of the series. GameSpot spoke with Nevin Gaston, one of the designers of the game, about the game's AI, racing dynamics, environments, racers, and more.
GameSpot: What are some differences, as far as the features are concerned, between Wipeout Fusion and the games that came before?
Nevin: Basically, we have changed the truck structure and some of the environments. Instead of one track we now have three tracks per environment and each the tracks have its own unique theme. One of the tracks is a city level with an intricate sewer network. Then there is a jungle level that will have waterfalls, rivers, temples, and things like that. In terms of the tracks, we've made the game a lot bigger. There are three tracks per environment, as I said, and we currently have 23 tracks altogether. We also have a number of extras and new teams in the game. There are 8 teams in total, three old teams and 5 new ones. There are also two pilots per team as well, for a total of 16 unique racers.
GS: What type of learning curve will Wipeout Fusion have?
Nevin: I think it has a fairly gradual learning curve, with a few very difficult course that the player will unlock by playing the game, near the end. I think the difficulty will still be challenging up until then, but I think the player will require a lot of skill to complete these latter levels. Generally, with so many tracks in the game now there is more freedom with what we can do with difficulty. We have longer and shorter tracks now as well. With each of the three environments we have one short, one medium, and one long track. Some of the turns in the longer tracks will be more spread out, which makes it a little bit easier perhaps.
GS: How are the racing dynamics different?
Nevin: The racing dynamics have definitely changed. For example, instead of coming off the ground as much as you used to, when you go over a stiff piece of land now you can hug the track more. This means we can do all sorts of cool tricks with the track, we can have like corkscrews or vertical drops. But we have also maintained the jumps, so you can jump from a high part of the track to a lower section. Also, we now have some of these freeform areas. These are parts of the track that takes a more organic look. So you actually drive through the environment, like through a forest, mines, and acid.
GS: How far do you think you are pushing the PS2 hardware?
Nevin: I think, as much as we can really. We've tried a lot of different techniques to get a lot of the effects we want and I think we have reached a very high standard. We have a lot more ships per race than previous games. We have 16 ships per race now as opposed to 12 in the previous ones. And there are a lot more polygons per ship as well. The environments are also more detailed. So, we've taken a very big leap from PlayStation 1 to get this far.
GS: How will the computer AI work in Wipeout Fusion?
Nevin: The ships will make decisions on where they are on the track, but they will also make decisions based on their personalities. So, the pilots for each of the crafts will have separate personalities. They will be able to make decisions on whether to speed up or to use a weapon. They will also be able to make decisions on whether to ram an opponent or to just overtake him by taking a better racing line, using their skill.
GS: Does the more intelligent racers change the races in any way? Will the races be more combative than the traditional "you-versus-the-track" Wipeout style?
Nevin: No, the dynamics are maintained from the first game as we can get them really, with the new AI. It wouldn't change that much really, it's just a matter of improving the AI to get it to do something more realistically.
GS: What are some other environments in the game that we have not seen?
Nevin: We have like futuristic and alien-esque of environments as well. We are really trying to offer as many environments as we can.
GS: What would be a cool feature to include in the next Wipeout?
Nevin: Possibly support for the Internet, because that is a growing market. Also, taking the brand further with new styles and game modes, that sort of thing. It would hard to really comment on that at this stage.