Wipeout Pure

An intense racing game, with the ultimate bonus.


The Lowdown

Pros: High octane futuristic racing with crisp graphics to boot.

Cons: No infrastructure online play.

Purchase at Play-Asia

Purchase at Lik-Sang

After the F9000 league and previous Wipeout bombs are a distant memory. SCE revives the classic franchise as a PSP launch title. The setting is further in the future, year 2197 to be exact. A new anti gravity racing league, the FX300 is starting up. It's up to you and your car to make it to the finish line. As you can tell by the story, Wipeout Pure isn't offering anything revolutionary to the racing genre. The story and Tron-esque style has been done in games before, including older Wipeout games. However, as an entertaining game Wipeout Pure delivers.

You start out by choosing one of eight different ships. Each ship has it's own set of advantages and disadvantages giving some level of balance to the game. The Feiser is perfect for beginners. It offers the best handling at a sacrifice of top speed. Defensive players will like the insect like Qirex that gives players a better shield for taking hits. While gamers looking for pure speed will feel right at home with the Piranha. The eight different ship types are set up for different styles of play. Another benefit of having different ships means that each race will be slightly different. Dependant on which ships are in play.

Once your ship is picked you'll enter in a race, either a single track time trial or the tournament mode. Each track in Wipeout Pure is ingeniously designed to test your reflexes. With each completed track you'll face tighter turns and more spread dash strips. The first track, Vineta K, gives you a chance to master using the analog nub to control the ship with a few turns. The difficulty increases Modesto Heights, with sharper turns and a few jumps. By the time you're racing in the sky high Sol 2 track, you'll lose a wall that will keep your car from floating off the track. If you happen to miss a turn or fall off to your supposed doom, you'll lose a little bit of health. Worse, you'll waste precious time, enough time that you can cost a race. In a way of saying "thanks" to fans of the series, Wipeout Pure also includes remastered classic tracks. This is a real treat to check out if you've been playing Wipeout games since the PS1 days.

Like it should, Wipeout Pure delivers the sense of pure speed. You start out with the Vector and Venom speed levels to play with. Vector is the first one beginners should take on. It introduces gamers to the track layouts and gives enough time for delayed control. Venom is around for those gamers who are racing pros. This way you can jump right in Wipeout Pure without an introduction. Beating tournaments in Venom mode will unlock the even faster Flash level. Two speed levels later and you'll face the ridiculous Phantom class. There is a balance between the beginners Vector track all the way to Phantom class. You will need to net a gold medal in the eight track Ascension tour to move up a speed level.

Getting gold medals isn't a walk in the park, but it isn't an impossible feat either. Wipeout Pure has a good amount of AI balance. In each tournament race you start in last place, so there is a challenge to move all the way to number one. To do this you will need to cleverly guide around curves, avoid damage and most importantly hit as many dash strips as possible. Marked by a forward arrow, dash strips, give a significant speed burst when hit. If you continually hit them, your car will speed right past AI cars. The catch is that computer cars will hit dash strips and gain speed boosts as well. Although, AI cars won't hit every possible speed boost, they hit enough to demand that players run over some. Even with fast speed boosts the AI doesn't feel like it's cheating. You can always catch up to first place with a little skill. When you're finally in first place, the AI will get more aggressive. Races become a continuous challenge.

While you can practice perfect driving, Wipeout Pure has plenty of weapons to players another way to win. Each car has a damage meter underneath their speed meter. If the life meter runs out the car is disqualified. Races can be won by shooting homing missiles, blasting wide range rockets and shooting charged fields of plasma. One of the more unique weapons is the Disruption Bolt. A direct hit from this could mess up your control pad setup, loss of air brakes and even a screen that blacks out for a few seconds. In multiplayer games the Disruption Bolt easily becomes the most annoying weapon to be hit with. If you happen to run into too many mines or bombs, you can absorb power ups by pressing circle. This gives you a boost of life, to keep you in the game. There are some other power ups like a shield that gives temporary invincibility to damage. It's perfect to use the shield before plowing through a mine field or right before getting hit with a missile. The turbo power up is perfect for long segments of straight track. Auto pilot is the most unique of all the power ups. Using this will shift control to the ship's computer allowing perfect turns. A great time to use this is when you're on a curvy track section.

For a handheld game Wipeout Pure looks amazing. High resolution, sharp graphics and a fluid frame rate. It's comparable to plenty of console games out there and easily looks better than most PS1 titles. It also makes use of the PSP's wide palette selection, displaying tons of different colors on screen. The in game ship models look superb. The backgrounds are equally impressive, sprouting tons of scenery. In one track your smack in the middle of a city, another in a dark tunnel and yet another high in the sky.

The Wipeout series is not just known for excellent racing, it's known for having a killer techno soundtrack. Wipeout Pure manages this, too. While it's electronic heavy, the selected songs are pretty good. Fast paced music is a good fit for making quick passes. If the songs aren't your forte, be assured that Wipeout Pure's downloadable content states more songs will be released for download. Other downloadable content includes new ships and new tracks to race on. Best of all Wipeout Pure is going to have more downloadable content released over a period of a couple of months. This is sure to give gamers more replay value than they bargained for.

While Wipeout Pure does an excellent job by providing gamers with downloadable expansion packs we have to ask why no infrastructure play? If you have a PSP you already know there are two ways to use your Wi-Fi. An ad-hoc connection for linking up a couple of PSP next to each other and infrastructure play that lets you play over the internet if you have a wireless router. Wipeout Pure only supports ad hoc networking, which is slightly disappointing. Infrastructure play over a huge network would have pushed this game over the top. Could it come in future upgrade? Possibly, but I'm not holding my breath.

As a super secret, not explained bonus Wipeout Pure can also be used as a web browser for the PSP. Highlighted by the tech news source Slashdot, Wipeout Pure with a wireless router can be used to surf the net. It's still far from perfected. For instance inputting a URL requires using text input similar to typing a text message in your cell phone. Some pages that use a lot of JavaScript will come up with errors and other pages won't look right at all. The trick itself isn't 100% user friendly. It requires a little tech knowledge to complete it. Overall it is no replacement for a laptop, but it still is an extremely neat trick.

Wipeout Pure is arguably the best launch PSP title. It's a great racing game, with a flawless frame rate. A near perfect multiplayer match, even without infrastructure mode. Also Wipeout Pure looks and sounds great, making it a show off title. The game even comes with the ultimate Easter egg, internet browsing. Wipeout Pure is really worth every penny.

Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 0

The language of racing is universal and it's not like Wipeout Pure is text heavy.

US Bound?

This game is already in the US and was part of the PSP launch.

Overall

Wipeout Pure doesn't have the realism of Ridge Racer, but it's more intense style of play makes it a perfect multiplayer game.