Wipeout Pure Review (PSP)
A breathtaking game with an impeccably unique style arrives on the PSP and re-imagines portable gaming in spectacular fashion. Wipeout Pure is a must-have title for any PSP owner's library.
Sweeping design takes center stage in Wipeout Pure, where everything from the introduction to the load screens to the menus set the stage for a futuristic wonderland straight out of science fiction's grandest visualizations. Whether you're racing at breakneck speeds through high-tech metropolises, diving through ocean-borne tubes or soaring through a track in the clouds, each and every course has an inimitable sense of panache and distinction. The level design is nothing less than triumphant, and each and every one feels completely unique. Remarkable lighting and reflection is used to brilliant effect as each of the tracks, ships, and weapons appear vital and vibrant, and weather effects add to the overall package. Some of the tracks are given a stylized, "Matrix"/"Tron" type of CGI-gloss that makes racing through them completely unique and interesting.
Frame rates are remarkably smooth and fast under nearly every circumstance. If there are too many ships on the course with weapons exploding all around, you may see a slight hitch here and there - but it's nothing to write home about, and it's gone as quickly as it appeared.
Simply put, Wipeout Pure would be a more than passable looker on the PS2 - on the PSP; it's an absolute wonder to behold.
The urgent thrumming of Wipeout Pure's "electronica" soundtrack complements the game's look to perfection. A sizeable array of licensed techno artists' works are incorporated flawlessly into the game's musical score; and the effect is subtle but captivating. Wipeout Pure's developers obviously had an overarching theme in mind when creating this game - to completely immerse the gamer into Wipeout's futuristic world.
Wipeout Pure offers multiple ways to cruise it's lush tracks with the Time Trial mode and Free Run mode. Both these modes offer a good opportunity to learn the oft-complicated courses before heading into full-fledged - and explosive - competition. In Zone mode, you'll be treated to one of four magnificently stylish tracks in an effort to keep your craft in one piece as you travel at ever-increasing velocities. It's exciting, challenging and an extraordinary useful training tool, because if you can handle your vehicle at almost twice it's normal speed, you'll likely be well-prepared to race against the best the game's AI has to offer. Single Race mode is exactly what you'd expect it to be, while Tournament Mode will take you through a series of tracks in a challenging contest to win multiple races on completely different tracks of all types. There are five racing classes in all, and you can expect to spend a lot of time trying to get through all of them. Your progress through the game is tracked clearly, and you may peruse a wealth of statistics at your leisure - including your vanity, as the stats screen tracks exactly just how many seconds you've been staring at it!
Wipeout Pure doesn't bring anything completely new to the table, but it does fine-tune it's performance to near-perfection, and the overall effect is both astounding and delightful. Controls are easily laid out and perform flawlessly, and while there is a definite learning curve, once you start air-braking through turns and barrel-rolling through mid air with ease and grace, you'll realize that you've stopped thinking about what you're doing and are instead simply letting the game flow through your hands due to the natural and intuitive blend of control scheme and game play. It's subtle but sublime.
As you wind your way through the thrilling courses, you'll find "boost" pads and weapon pads scattered along the course. The more of these you can fly over, the better. Keeping your speed as high as possible is critical to success, and the weapons you collect can be just as much so. You can only carry one onboard at any given time, so knowing when and if to use them becomes of paramount importance. Offensive weapons such as rockets, bombs or mines can blow opponents off the course, while less aggressive tools such as a shield, speed boost or a momentarily auto-pilot assist can help you wind your way through tight traffic with aplomb. The weapons are potent, but they're also just strong enough to keep a little randomness inserted into almost each and every race. These "power-ups" can also be "absorbed" instead of being fired or otherwise used - "absorbing" them will strengthen the structure of your craft - which will undoubtedly become more and more necessary as the tracks get tighter and the opponents get more ruthless. It's a simple system, but it provides the perfect balance between offense and defense - and keeps the races moving at warp velocities. Wipeout Pure is, at heart, a very simple game that can be surprisingly hard to master, but you'll have a great time in the attempt. This is fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants racing nonpareil.
"Ad Hoc" Wi-Fi online play is available for eight different players to partake in Wipeout Pure races via a local connection. There is no real lobby system to be found, which makes setting up a game a bit opaque, but the in-game performance is excellent. It's a shame that true online… er, "Infrastructure" play isn't in here, but SCEA and Studio Liverpool has promised to deliver downloadable content in the form of new tracks, vehicles, game skins, and music - and that's something truly revolutionary for the handheld gaming community.
From the moment the game loads until the moment you shut it off, Wipeout Pure combines with the PSP to fool you into thinking the handheld system you hold in your palms is some sort of device from the not-too-distant future. Magnificent, all-encompassing presentation serves only to highlight the wholly engrossing game play. Even after you've unlocked every track, you'll find yourself racing them again and again, just to see if you can shave that extra half-second off of your track record. With the promise of downloadable content in the offing, Wipeout Pure takes your preconceptions of handheld gaming's limitations and blasts them into oblivion. The future is here today, and it is Pure gaming bliss.