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Wipeout Pure – PSP

Wipeout Pure – PSP

Platform: PlayStation Portable

Developer: Sony Studio Liverpool

Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date (NA): March 24, 2005

Genre: Racing, Futuristic Racing

Nerd Rating: 9.25 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

The real deal. Authentic. 2 Legit 2 Quit. Whatever you want to call it, Wipeout Pure is pretty awesome. This portable beauty puts futuristic racing in the palm of your hands wherever you go! One of the major draws in the Wipeout series has always been its absurdly mesmerizing graphics, and Wipeout Pure does not fail to deliver. From the smallest details like projectile animation detail to the intricacies of track design, developer Sony Studio Liverpool delivers a knockout punch guaranteed to make your thumbs sore.

Wipeout and the Futuristic Racing Subgenre

The Wipeout series started way back in 1995 on PlayStation and Sega Saturn with the inaugural self-titled game, Wipeout. Although F-Zero may not have been the first futuristic racer by any means, I think it’s safe to attribute the genre’s initial success to SNES’s F-Zero. With the release of the 5th generation of gaming consoles in the PlayStation, Saturn, and N64 came a worldwide desire for more realistic 3D graphics! This is where the futuristic racing subgenre really began to take hold. In my opinion the Wipeout games were the benchmark by which all developers measured their own futuristic racing games, and if they weren’t then they should have been.

Original Wipeout on PS1 (1995)

The mid to late 1990s marked an era where the racing genre as a whole saw a massive spike in popularity, but the major onslaught of average and below average futuristic racing games did no favors to the subgenre’s identity. Too many of these games seemed like ripoffs of the Wipeout series, again proving that Wipeout was the game every developer wanted to best.  Easily bringing up the rear were games like Hi-Octane, Planet of Death, and Cyber Speedway, all of which failed to separate themselves from the hordes of futuristic racers. Trudging along somewhere in the middle, thus being simply average and pretty unmemorable, were games like AeroGauge, TrickStyle, and Killer Loop. It feels like for every one great futuristic racing game there were at least two mediocre or bad futuristic racing games! During this mid to late 1990s era, it seemed that there weren’t many games that could go head-to-head with the Wipeout series, but F-Zero X, Extreme G, Slipstream 5000, and the Jet Moto series all gave developer Psygnosis a run for their money. Even Star Wars Episode I Racer wasn’t all that bad… definitely not as bad as the movie!

Wipeout Pure for the Masses?

My very first experience with the Wipeout franchise was Wipeout XL on the PlayStation. I was probably 11 or 12 years old and I just could not believe my eyes. I mean… I had never seen any game look so damn good. Hands down the most graphically impressive game I had ever seen to that date. I’m telling you it… wait… okay. okay. I’m beating a dead horse here, but you get the point I’m trying to make. It was visually breathtaking. But at the same time, as a kid, that’s the only real impression the game made on me. I was “impressed” but I don’t recall feeling much else. It was sort of boring, much like the first time I played Gran Turismo. I don’t care how realistic it is. I want to be entertained and have fun.

So the real question here is, who does the Wipeout series appeal to? I’m of the mindset that this series is aimed more at the adult crowd of gamers than a youthful crowd. With the developer’s emphasis on realism (as real as you can get racing fictional vehicles on fictional tracks), precision controls, and a non-catchy yet absolutely baller electronic techno soundtrack, you can’t expect kids to go nuts over the idea of playing Wipeout Pure on the school bus over games like Little Big Planet or F-Zero GP: Legend. But that’s not really Sony’s concern because the PlayStation Portable system has always felt like a more adult portable gaming system. They didn’t set out to be a Game Boy Advance clone instead eschewing whimsical bright colors in their marketing for a sleek and shiny concept. With all things considered, it’s easy to see that Wipeout Pure hits its target demographic right on the nose.

Playing Wipeout Pure

Playing Wipeout Pure is a mixed bag of “damn that was easy” to “wtf just happened.” But before we get into the roller-coaster difficulty, let’s chat about the experience. Before I get too detailed, I must note that it’s a hell of a lot of fun. I actually found myself throwing my fists in the air when I would win heated races by a hair. It has been a long time since I cared that much, so for Wipeout Pure to make that kind of impact on me, they’re obviously doing something right.

Playing Wipeout Pure is a breeze. Controls are simple and the layout of the PSP buttons closely mimic the standard DuoShocks, so it makes for an easy transition if you’re a Wipeout veteran. I did have issues, however, with extreme finger fatigue and an overall awkwardness in holding the unit altogether which is more of an indictment against Sony’s handheld than the game itself. But I digress. The standard buttons apply: one button drives, one button brakes (I think. Actually I’m not sure because I never let off the gas), one button fires your weapon, and the two shoulder buttons give you drifting abilities to maneuver sharp turns. I tend to use the shoulder bumper buttons as air brakes, which is maybe actually what the brakes are. I don’t know. I just play the games, y’all.

The difficulty level is what brings the game down a couple fractions of a point. The first set of races in the ALPHA series are a breeze and are not necessarily good training for the BETA series racers. There’s nothing in the middle. The speed increases, the tracks are a bit harder, and overall it’s a little uneven. But with a couple more hours or races under your belt, you’ll probably have these tracks mastered and you’ll be playing the ASCENSION races which is basically an endurance of ALPHA and BETA back to back with no split up in the middle.

Track Design, Graphics, Music

Every good racing game, futuristic or standard, should be rated on its track designs and playability. Sonic R was a total piece of shit in both respects, so that game gets a major thumbs down from me. But Wipeout Pure delivers quality track designs albeit a little reserved. I enjoyed the tracks and their various traps and hazards, if you will, but I also was a little disappointed in the lack of “extreme” variations or something a little more exciting. I hate to compare F-Zero GX to Wipeout (they were released pretty close to one another), but c’mon folks, F-Zero GX features some of the coolest track designs in any racing game I’ve ever seen. Overall, I thought these designs were sufficient but a little uninspiring. Furthermore, I would have enjoyed more tracks in general, although it is possible that they couldn’t fit more onto the UMD. They sure do look pretty though, especially when you throw in the weather effects of rain and snow!

The graphics here are unreal. I mean, they’re real. They’re so real that they’re unreal. Alright I’m confused AF. I’m trying to say that it’s insane how good these graphics are. Upon its release in 2005, Wipeout Pure was arguably the most polished racing game ever, stacking up superbly well to even the most advanced home console racers. The amount of detail put into the vehicles (anti-gravity crafts), the weaponry (the explosions and electric bolts are bonkers), and the backgrounds will leave you in awe the same way Wipeout XL (1996) left me in awe 10 years prior.

Pairing well with the concept of futuristic racing is Wipeout Pure‘s soundtrack. It is entirely composed of electronic techno style tunes. There isn’t a single tune that is catchy enough to bounce around in your noggin all day while you’re at work, but it is upbeat, exciting, and an absolutely perfect addition to the franchise. The soundtrack remains true to its predecessors as it never once strays from what we would expect from a Wipeout game; this could be a good or a bad thing depending how you want to view it. Sound effects are flawless from mines being laid out to missiles being fired to your vehicle slowly scraping a track barrier…. it’s all perfect.

Conclusion

Wipeout Pure delivers a high adrenaline racing experience on-the-go unlike anything before it. Wipeout Fusion was a rare miss for the developers, and Wipeout Pure saw the series come back to its roots in a solid way. And that’s not to say Wipeout Fusion was a bad game! It’s just that the expectations for the franchise are always so high! While Wipeout Pure is indeed its own original game, it has the classic feel of Wipeout, Wipeout XL, and Wipeout 64. You’ll throw your fists in anger every time you stupidly run into a wall that you knew was there, but you’ll also smile in adoration the first time you see rain coming down on the track.

Wipeout Pure is not flawless as it occasionally suffers a framerate miss and has a bit of an obscurity issue in the tracks department. The issues within the game are so minuscule that they’re easily forgiven or outright ignored in favor of enjoying yourself in the moment. I’ve never been one to throw around cheesy one-liners, but this joyous occasion calls for a “signing off” slogan destined to make you roll your eyes: Wipeout Pure is purely good fun.

Check out former Nerd Bacon co-owner The Cubist’s take on Wipeout 2048 on the PS Vita right here!

Nerd Rating: 9.25 out of 10 

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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