WipEout: Pure PSP Review

The WipEout series has now become a flagship title for new Sony products, and it always delivers a great gaming experience with its fast-paced racing mixed with combat on your lovely, sleek anti-grav craft. This new title really does deliver according to its name, Pure. This game creates a balance between the fast paced racing seen on the original PlayStation’s WipEout 2, and the combat of the PS2’s WipEout: Fusion.

Graphics

When I first turned on this game, and started a race, my first thought was “Wow”. At first, I thought it was just the fact that I was seeing top-notch graphics on a handheld console, but on seeing other games, I can say that these are the best graphics yet to be seen on the PSP. Everything from the well-designed, colourful ships you are racing in, to the beautiful, atmospheric environments you race through and finally to the brilliant weapon effects are a sight to be seen. I believe these could have been an early title for the PS2, that’s how good they are.

Every ship is similar, and yet designed and coloured in such a way that you can distinguish between them, and yet the theme is not detracted from. Tracks are also designed in a similar way. Every track is based around the futuristic theme, but are set in different locations, and different weather conditions. From a snowy mountain climb, to a perilous race in the clouds, amidst bright sunshine, every track is a pleasure to race through. Weapon effects, although admirable, are the only area that I believe could have been improved on. Despite the fact that they are styled in the same theme as the rest of the game, they are very generic of any game with this type of combat in, and the only one that really merits any real admiration is the brilliant Quake weapon, which sends a great wall of seismic disturbance surging in front of you.

Gameplay

This is what WipEout games are renowned for, and this one is no disappointment. In fact, I believe the Pure title really does work for this game. Having played the last game (the PS2 installment), I remeber thinking how, despite the enjoyable weapon combat, the old adrenaline-pumping racing experience was lost on the game. This game does take away slightly from the weapon combat of the last, but it makes up for it by reintroducing the old fast-paced races of previous games.

This games’ racing is very good, but it is also quite tough. It takes a little while to get used to the braking that sharp turns require, due to different physics compared to conventional racing games, but it will come after a few hours of play. What I like about this game is the gradual introduction of harder and harder racing levels, AI gets better and racing gets faster, making the game considerably harder as you go on.

There are also a few different modes to earn those gold medals in. There is the conventional single race and Time Attack modes, as well as a Tournament mode (which allows for unlocking of new tracks and racing difficulties). The original Zone mode of previous WipEout games makes a reappearance as well, whereby you have a car which can never brake, constanly accelerating around specially created tracks, until you explode due to crashes. This is a great mode, and it will take you a long time to complete all of the Zone tracks.

There is a multiplayer mode available as well, through the new PSP Wireless Play system, for up to 8 players at a time, competing in races. From my own experience, these races are fun, but always appear to end up with the pole position player winning, taking some of the fun out of the game (unless you’re all very inexperienced players, in which case this doesn’t happen, and hilarity genrally ensues).

Sound

Sound effects are really nothing special in this game, but they’re nothing to lament about either. Songs in the game include real musicians from the techno scene performing, but all are rather generic to my ears, and to be honest, you never hear them over the racing anyway.

Weapon and driving sound effects are nothing to be amazed about, they all suit their particular actions, but nothing special can be said for them. One nice touch however are the computer-voice warnings of incoming attacks from other drivers.

Lifespan

With around 12 tracks and 5 racing difficulties, plus 4 different modes, there are a lot of medals to earn here, and despite having little in the way of unlockables, this game will keep you interested enough to want to get a gold in every race. This makes the game easily one of the longest spanning games I’ve played on a handheld.

Also, there is a Content Download option, and if you have a wireless network in your house or place of work, you can connect your PSP to the internet and download new tracks, skins (for the menus) and ships, adding considerably more time onto the game.

Overall

This game has few flaws, and will enthrall most players for a long time and, for a handheld game, that is no mean feat. With an instant pick up and playability, and the multiplay features, this game will be an instant classic for the PSP, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it stays one of the best games available for a long time to come.

9 out of 10
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