No other title at the PlayStation launch in 1995 had as much of an influence on how video games were being perceived as Wipeout did. It redefined the visual style of video games and paved the way for Sony's underground guerilla-marketing strategy. The result of all the work: Video gaming became trendy, and the audience of the games got older, changing from the typical 9-year-old audience to teenagers aged 15 to 20. Sony managed to make video games trendy, and that was only possible with landmark games like Wipeout or Destruction Derby backing the strategy up.
Wipeout, which was the first antigravity racer on the PlayStation, sported a couple of new approaches. One of them was to license songs from several top DJs/acts including Orbital, Underworld, and The Chemical Brothers in order to get a trancy techno-like atmosphere in the race to complement the visual speed of racing . The second new approach was to give an external design agency the task of coming up with a unique style for the game - complete with logos, track designs, ship designs, etc. Suddenly, The Designer's Republic was a top name in the gaming industry thanks to its work on Wipeout.
Of course, a sequel to Wipeout was a no-brainer since it proved to be a best seller. Wipeout 2097 was basically more of the same. Wipeout 3 soon followed, and there's even a Wipeout 3 Special Edition being released in Europe with new music and minor new features. But with a slew of newer, more original titles for the PlayStation, and no real sense of innovation present in any of the Wipeout sequels, the series has slipped from the minds of most PlayStation owners.
The Wipeout series has recently made headlines again, when Sony Computer Entertainment Europe announced a European PlayStation 2 lineup that features a brand-new PS2 Wipeout game. Although not much is known yet about the game, we uncovered first details of the project including first words from the agency that is taking over Designer's Republic's task of coming up with all the artwork. The new design agency for the Wipeout series is a company named Good Technology, which focuses on web site design and digital design in general. Good Technology has already received dozens of awards for web sites like Audi, Levi's, and others.
Good Technology won the account in a pitch against three other agencies (one of them presumably being The Designer's Republic). Good Technology is currently working on creating a complete visual identity for Wipeout Fusion on the PlayStation 2. This work will include game logos, in-game fonts, menus, team logos, weapons iconography, print and promotional materials, packaging, merchandising, and an online presence. Phil Gerrard of Good Technology comments on the new task: "Given the significance of the original Wipeout series within the design industry, this project is a very important addition to our creative portfolio and one that the whole company is enormously excited about - not least because we have all been huge fans of Wipeout since day one."
Wipeout Fusion is set in the year 2150, and the Federation has created a new racing league named F9000. This new generation of antigravity spacecraft consists of more components that influence the handling of the ship. All this boils down to is a much more responsive craft. Whereas the first Wipeout game had seven parameters that had influence on how the ship controls, Wipeout Fusion has crafts that have 48 independent parameters. The new ships will have new weapons and other special features as well.
The physics model for the ships has been completely re-created, meaning that the ships in the game will move in a way that looks and feels more realistic. Now ships can now be damaged, which will have a direct result on their handling. There are all sorts of animations that will visually represent the damage you absorb. Parts may break off your ship, certain areas can smoke, catch fire, and become charred from explosions, and so on. This newly implemented damage system will force you to use the pit lane for something other than simply gaining energy, as using it will repair individual areas of your craft.
In the previous Wipeout games the focus was on the crafts themselves, but Wipeout Fusion promises to implement a new element to the mix - actual pilots. In addition to the 32 different crafts available in Wipeout Fusion, the game will have a large pool of pilots that add their own stats and characteristics to the crafts. As Gerrard points out, "This is undeniably a tough act to follow - and with Wipeout Fusion being the first airing of the series on the PlayStation 2 and a key title in Sony's launch lineup, we are fully aware of the challenge! We're working to produce something that is as fresh, inspiring, and groundbreaking as the original Wipeout."
Another new feature is the freeform nature of the tracks, where you'll be given the opportunity to choose your own route through the tracks. From what we've seen so far, the tracks have a lot of splits where you can choose from several routes. Little is known about how, exactly, the freeform tracks will work. But we do know that there will be seven huge racing environments in Wipeout Fusion, each one sporting three separate courses. Each track will consist of more than 150,000 polygons, which allows for breathtaking detail. Another new steering option is to move your ship sideways, much like strafing, which is especially good for evading weapon attacks. You will also have the ability to flip your ship 180 degrees so you can race on a track that is directly above you.
And, talking about shooting, there will be "superweapons" in the game that you can unlock by completing a series of challenges. Each racing team will have its own super-weapon Additionally, there will be special weapons for the multiplayer modes, such as the Turbo Enforcer.
While many of the features of the game are still a little a mystery, like the freeform tracks and some of the weapons, we can't wait to see the game. The game was also shown at E3, and it looked amazing. It looks like Studio Liverpool is working on a game that could quite possibly become one of the most important and influential titles for Sony at the European launch of the PlayStation 2.