Gamestyle Archive intro: the Wipeout franchise was always closely associated with the Playstation console offering an ideal fix of beats and speed whatever the time of day.
Format: Playstation 2
Published: February 2001
DEVELOPER: SCEE Studio Liverpool
ACCESSORIES: Memory, Dual Shock
RELEASE: Winter 2001
The Wipeout series for some represents style over content but with the gaming public proved to be extremely popular. Most conversations centred on the overall design or the accompanying hip soundtrack but not the actual game itself. I do think that the previous instalments were over-rated in comparison to the criminally overlooked Rollcage, also by Psygnosis.
Although the developers name has changed to SCEE Studios Liverpool, the team is very much still in place – until recently when several moved onto the Getaway team in London causing the release date to be put back. Sony eventually realised that they could loose a flag ship title after its appearance on the N64 and therefore bought Psygnosis. In these days such console exclusives are rare and by purchasing the financially troubled firm they would gain a popular title and prevent Microsoft or Nintendo from obtaining the franchise.
Rather than being the latest sequel to grace the PS2, the new power has allowed the team to rebuild Wipeout to their original vision. In comparison to Tekken Tag or Ridge Racer 5, Fusion promises to be a revolution instead of an evolution. The year is now 2150AD and the Federation has created a new league. The Wipeout F9000 league offers cash incentives, more weapons, true anti-gravity ships and is a rollercoaster ride for all the participants. As expected the teams are as before but this time the structure of the league and hence the game is far more competitive and challenging. Cash is given at the end of each race depending on how well you perform in certain areas such as final position, time, damage to craft, damage inflicted and skill displayed. The reward can then be used to upgrade your craft in six areas – speed, acceleration, lateral stability, braking, weapon and shield power. This feature will allow you to create a craft, which suits your own style, as you may prefer pure speed, or to blast your way to the front. With 32 ships of varying styles, sizes, handling and appearance available you, there will be a great deal to choose from. Once you have upgraded your ship to its maximum level a new ship will be given to you, perhaps one that cannot be opened any other way.
Wipeout has always been a tough game to master and this incarnation will prove to be the toughest challenge yet. The AI has been improved dramatically and whereas before you could predict a foe’s behaviour, this time it won’t be so easy but they will react to pressure. Rival pilots will have different styles of flying and will try to block your every move; you will also have to watch out for debris on the track. To add to the realism team orders will also come into play and revenge will feature highly on their list of objectives if you shoot them down. The game will offer twenty-six weapons with several being exclusive to this version; thirteen standard, eight super and five multi-player varieties.
Fusion will feature seven different environments each with three tracks. The overall visual look is now being handled by Good Technology and this has resulted in a more organic style. The developers have promised that the tracks will have a rollercoaster feel with several jumps, loops, twists and a sense of sheer speed. The footage shown so far certainly indicates that your craft could fly around the tracks at any angle even upside down if need be and the handling has been improved. The tracks will also feature short cuts that you will need to blast open in order to access. The actual width of the track in previous editions was tight to say the least and this has been increased dramatically thereby encouraging overtaking. Damage is very realistic and will affect the handling plus ships can break up and leave debris – these factors making the pit lane far more important than before.
The game will only support two players which is a disappointment after the increased numbers offered by the N64 however the developers wanted to ensure 60fps in the one and two player modes. No news yet on whether the game will offer a link-up option but with the added time before release perhaps they can incorporate this. Although the artists have not yet been confirmed the soundtrack again will include several big names but promises to be more underground than before – still dance music though. The developers are planning to offer new experiences to the ongoing league action. A challenge mode will offer a refreshing break from league action and the possibility of winning a Super Weapon License if you complete the tests. They also plan to ship Wipeout on DVD and we are promised several secrets, behind the scenes documentaries and other details as bonuses on the disk.
It remains to be seen if the game can match the fun and speed of F-Zero X but I may just like this version…