Once you’ve picked you team one of the most ballistic racing experiences ever begins!
Psygnosis (the creators of other notable PS1 classics like Lemmings and Destruction Derby) and development partner ‘The Designers Republic’ have produced a fantastic style for the game. While graphically not very impressive from a technically point of view as it was still extremely early in its life, but artistically its one of the best. From the pilot logos to the holographic billboards every facet of the game has been carefully designed to fit into a coherent style. Back then it was rare to find titles that did this so well. The tracks designs have chequered sections and guide arrows that create some amazing effects when you pick up some speed. There are 8 different ship designs that have become very iconic for the series.
Sound and music all play a huge role in establishing wipEout as the futuristic racer of choice for many. The effects for ship are little more than low hums, but they get the message across. Crashes, bumps and explosions also sound pretty good with welcome thuds and scrapes. The music is another defining feature of the game with electro and techno beats from the likes of CoLD SToRAGE, the Chemical Brothers and Orbital. The underground nature of the soundtrack also adds to that complete sense of psychological kleptomania. There are four teams in wipEout: AG Systems, Auricom, Qirex and FEISAR – each with their own set of two pilots. The game’s six tracks take across titanium speed runs and ice mountains. One of the tracks, Karbonis V, features a slalom like sections with requires consist use of the air brakes to charge through it at speed. A hidden track is also unlockable which gives the game some replay value. The single player option hosts 3 different game modes: Championship, single race and time trial. The championship gives you the chance to race though all six venues in an effort to claim 3rd place or higher. Do well enough here and you’ll unlock Rapier ‘hard mode’ class in the game. wipEout also has support for two player head to head and full grid races (split-screen).
With every one of these things going for it, it’s great to see that wipEout shines when it comes to gameplay as well. The Cross button accelerates, while you steer with the D-pad and the L2/R2 button function as your air brakes (for tight turns). As you cruise around the track you gain brief boosts from blue arrow pads. There are also some coloured energy pads that allow you to arm you ship with mines, rockets and shields to name but a few. You deploy these weapons using the Circle button. The game’s HUD is simple and straight forward to understand (but still keeps that signature style); lap count, current weapon and race position can be found at the top. Lap time and speed indicator at the bottom. Early on you’ll have to get use to memorising the tracks and using your air brakes wisely so you lose as little speed as possible. The game can certain be quite challenge from the word go. A skilled player could probably complete the game in around 4-5 hours, but for most it will take about 5-6 hours to complete all the tracks and modes in both classes.
WipEout is an amazing journey into a frantic, stylised future. Sharp controls, a good variety of levels and two player gameplay that’s incredibly addictive. Adrenalin filled racing and pulse pounding music. No racing fan could ask for more.