January 10, 2002
Wipeout Fusion - Review
When the PSOne was first released there were several games that gave Sony's new system plenty of credibility against the might of the Sega Saturn and Nintendo 64. Games such as Destruction Derby, Ridge Racer, Toshinden and Tekken gave Sony's system a strong game line-up. But more important then all of these titles was a little gem called Wipeout from Psygnosis. This was this game that got Playstation demo units into clubs across Europe and made the system the "cool" item for people in their 20's to own. Since the release of that first game Sony purchased Psygnosis to become an internal developer, Studio Liverpool, and two sequels have been developed. More excitingly, the developers haven't wasted their time in developing a Wipeout game for Playstation 2, and the results are stunning.
|The levels are quite detailed.|
The year is 2150 and the Federation, the organization behind previous incarnations of the Wipeout anti-gravity racing leagues, decides it's time that new advances in technology are utilised to create a whole new racing experience - the Wipeout 9000 league. Accordingly, eight new teams are created from all around the world, and the very best drivers recruited. New tracks are built, with a wider range of mind-boggling features than ever before, from jump ramps and trigger pads, crossroads and short-cuts to vertical air jumps and even an anti-gravity pad that instantly flips your ship to race on the underside of the track's roof. This game has been re-designed from the ground up to take the series to new heights.
It has to be said that Wipeout Fusion is choc full with features. The game includes 32 ships' models, 16 different pilots in eight teams, 45 different tracks on seven different courses, six single-player modes, five multi-player modes and 26 different spectacular weapons to take out opponents. Most of these ships, pilots and tracks remain locked until you begin to complete the leagues, single races and challenges. This will take some time as the computer AI is very tough at times, although possibly not as tough as past games. You will need some very solid racing skills to complete the game entirely.
|The levels are quite detailed.|
One other new feature to this Playstation 2 game is the ability to upgrade your craft in areas such as acceleration, top speed, handling, weapons and shields. During each race that you complete you earn credits for your finishing position and damage that you inflict on other craft. These credits can then be used to upgrade you ship to get better performance as you move up the leagues.
The tracks in Wipeout Fusion are dotted all over the world in seven huge racing venues, each with three different courses of increasing difficulty. Varied track locations include jungle, desert, city and mountain settings. The biggest are three times longer than any previous Wipeout circuit. Special features in each track include jump ramps; special trigger pads that raise and lower bridges and open and close routes; hazardous crossroads; vertical air jumps; a pad that flips your ship 180 degrees; free-running areas with no clearly defined track and hidden shortcuts.
|The levels are quite detailed.|
Once again the weapons provide a crucial aspect to the gameplay. They allow you to disrupt opponents progress, or even destroy them during the race. In the League modes you get 2 points for each opponent you eliminate from the race. Standard weapons, available to all competitors, include proton cannons; bouncing grenades; missiles; rockets; flame-throwers; plasma bolts; grav stingers; gravity bombs; mines; quake disruptors; turbo; autopilot and shields. It is also possible to acquire super weapons which are team specific and include super-missiles; seismic snares; biological projectiles that grow across and block the track; orbital lasers; power swarms (drones equipped with rapid-fire guns); nitro rockets and penetrator missiles. It has to be said that the variety is impressive and the inclusion of weapons to attack in front and behind adds a degree of strategy to the game. You don't want to be sitting at the head of the pack with 15 craft behind you loaded with missiles.
Sadly, all is not perfect with this game. The biggest problem is the fonts selected for use on the menus. Good Technology, who replaced the phenomenally superb Designer's Republic, must have been using high resolution monitors when designing the look of Wipeout Fusion because the fonts look fairly horrific on a TV and are almost illegible, even on my high end 68cm Sony Trinitron. Trying to read them on anything smaller would be a nightmare. The next problem with the game is actually gameplay related in that at times your ships will get stuck on parts of the tracks and you will be frantically pressing buttons for several seconds trying to guide them off seemingly invisible walls. At other times your craft will sail right through a barrier and off the track and then be replaced some distance back from the incident. These are two fairly major disappointments that you will be faced with every time you go and play the game.
|Check out the stunning dust trails.|
Graphics have always been a strong point in the Wipeout games, and Wipeout Fusion is no exception. The background detail is simply stunning while the ships are all extremely varied in their design. While the weapons effects look spectacular, it's the dust particle effects that really manage to impress as it blinds you from the track ahead. This game is almost as good as that pre-rendered sequence that Psygnosis did for the film Hackers several years ago. Once again there is a pretty big disappointment in that there are some very noticeable periods of slowdown. I'm not talking a drop from 50fps to 25fps either. It's more like a drop from 50fps to 15fps. It doesn't happen all the time, perhaps only once every couple of races. Strangely it doesn't necessarily occur when there are a lot of craft on screen or a lot of weapons firing, it seems somewhat random. Still, it is in the game, and is a little disappointing.
As with previous games in the series the music has a very strong dance beat to it. Studio Liverpool have gone with a mostly licensed selection of music with 15 of the 19 tracks from fairly well known bands and DJ's from Europe. These tracks include highlights such as Future Sound Of London - Papua New Guinea (Hybrid Mix), Utah Saints - Sick, Orbital - Funny Breaks (Plump DJ's Mix), Timo Mass - Old School Vibes and Elite Force & Nick Ryan - Switchback. The sound effects are no less impressive with some wonderful weapon noises and plenty of engine sounds from the ships as they race around the track.
|The games colours can be wonderful.|
All-in-all Wipeout Fusion is an extremely enjoyable game. The action is fast, the detail is impressive and, most importantly, it's a lot of fun to play. Unfortunately, it looks as though Studio Liverpool were rushing to get the game out by Christmas as there are several occasions of slowdown and a few places to get stuck on the tracks which should have been eliminated. Still, this is an impressive game overall and fans of the PSOne series will be in awe of the improvements the newer technology has allowed. This is one game worth seriously considering.
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|GRAPHICS||Great trackside detail and 16 ships on screen, with some slowdown.||83%|
|SOUND||19 dance music tracks with some variety. Excellent sound effects.||95%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's Wipeout. Fast, furious, and plenty of fun. Very poor text fonts.||88%|
|VALUE||Plenty of tracks and items to unlock, the gameplay will have you back.||90%|
|OVERALL||This is one awesome game that fans of the series will absolutely love.||86%|