This title was reviewed on PS1, but is also available on Sega Saturn.
Wipeout as a series has become synonymous with the PlayStation brand at this point, with each Sony console having a new Wipeout entry that really set the bar for graphics and framerate, as well as the series as a whole being a fast and furious blast to boot. While the new generation have been blessed with the phenomenal Wipeout Omega Collection on PS4, I figured it was time I went back and looked at the game that started it all.
Considering this was released on the PS1, the graphics on offer in Wipeout are rather solid. Modelling and textures are well done for the time, and there’s neat little detail in each track like crowds and foliage, although like all PS1 games it’s plagued by texture warping. However, the game does have a poor draw distance, and while it doesn’t affect gameplay too much as it’s just far enough to see what’s coming, it can be rather off putting. The game also lacks visual variety, with each track looking similar thematically, something that would be addressed in later titles.
The gameplay here is more or less the same as any other game in the series, and is your standard racing fare. You have to pass the finish line first to win like in any other racing game. What set this game apart at the time though was its sense of speed and gravity. the game is set in the future, so the ships you race in are high-speed anti-gravity ships, something that is conveyed greatly here through some great handling physics and a relatively smooth framerate, at least compared to the chugging Saturn version. The anti-gravity is brought in through the use of air-brakes like in F-Zero, where the right shoulder button will have you brake to the right and the left shoulder braking to the left.
The game also takes cues from titles like Mario Kart, having weapons come into play during races. You have panels on the track that you can run over for weapons and gadgets such as missiles, shields, auto-pilot etc. and they’re all fun to use. You can also permanently eliminate your fellow contestants from races, making them a sound tactical options, although be warned that the same can happen to you.
The game is sadly limited on content however, with there only being 7 race tracks and 8 ships to choose from. There is some encouragement for replayability thanks to changing difficulties and alternate modes like time trails, but even with those modes longevity is not a strong point in this one. On the plus side, the tracks are pretty varied. While not varied visually like I said before, they’re all varied in terms of gameplay, with plenty of ramps and sharp turns to tackle, so while the game is short, you’ll have a blast!
The audio here is top notch. The soundtrack was developed using the in-house music team known as CoLD SToRAGE, and they did a fantastic job with it. All of the music tracks are fast-paced techno and they fit in fantastically with the racing on screen. Sound effects are also decent, with engine sounds, weapon fire and crashes sounding great.
Wipeout spawned an entire PlayStation franchise, and looking back it’s not hard to see why. The gameplay was nailed right away in this first outing, being fast-paced, smooth and best of all: fun. The tracks were varied and the amount of weapons made racing fast and deadly. The game also had a fantastic soundtrack to boot. Sadly the game was lacking in content, so it had very little longevity as well as having poor draw distance and limited visual variety. These issues would be addressed in later installments thankfully. Despite how far the series has come, I’d still suggest checking this one out, as it’s an interesting look at Wipeout’sroots.