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Wipeout XL – Sony PlayStation

Wipeout XL – Sony PlayStation

wipeout-xl-usaPlatform: Sony PlayStation

Developer: Psygnosis

Publisher: Psygnosis

Release Date (NA): September 30, 1996

Genre: Racing, Combat Racing, Futuristic Racing

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Are you a fan of futuristic vehicles, intense combat, dangerous speeds, and smooth controls? Yea me neither. Just kidding. YES. Obviously you are! If you’re not, then WHY ARE YOU HERE? Go home, you’re drunk. If you answered yes, then you’ll instantly fall in love with Wipeout XL. It may be a little tough to go back in time and play this game when you’re accustomed to Wipeout HD (AKA Wipeout Fury) on the PlayStation 3. But much like Mario Kart 64, many folks prefer to go back and play the classics. Furthermore, Wipeout XL exceeds its predecessor as it takes its place as the go-to game for comparison of all futuristic racers before and after it. Trace your roots, son, because you need to know how this all started!

wo2097_03

Wipeout XL is known to the rest of the world as Wipeout 2097 for whatever reason. Wipeout XL is the sequel to the much heralded futuristic racing game, Wipeout. It is the second installment in the series and became an instant financial and critical success. In 2000, developer Psygnosis was bought and turned into SCE Studios Liverpool. While SCE Liverpool has developed only 13 titles in 15 years, their main focus is keeping the Wipeout franchise afloat in addition to a Formula 1 series. Psygnosis is famous for the Lemmings series, Bram Stoker’s DraculaColony Wars, and countless other 1-hit successes and failures. Despite their accolades for the aforementioned games, nothing can touch the level of success they achieved with the Wipeout series.

wipeout xl 6

Although Wipeout was not the original futuristic racer of the 1990s, it definitely carved out its own little slot in the industry. F-Zero may have beaten Wipeout to the punch by almost 6 years, but Wipeout beat them to the next generation and set the bar high for all competitors. While games like Hi-Octane would flat out steal Wipeout’s style, they couldn’t match its finesse. And the release of Wipeout XL laid the competition to rest with its innovative techno-music, impressively strong graphics, and the way its futuristic atmosphere blended perfectly with its cultural vibe. Simply put… Wipeout XL was amazing.

wipeout xl 5

The original Wipeout was impressive and stunning, so no one expected Wipeout XL to be so so so much better. But it was and it still is. It surpasses its precursor in nearly every category except originality (because it’s not as original as the, um, original). When you first boot up the game, you’ll experience a gnarly introductory cinematic that is reminiscent of being high on Ecstasy in a 1990s trance club. I could’t decide if I should play the game or break open a bunch of glow sticks and sweat all over myself. Fortunately for you, I went with option #2. We haven’t even begun to play the game and I’m already beyond impressed with everything I see.

Graphically the game is a feat of hard work and dedication. I can’t believe this game came out in 1996. It looks as though it belongs on a PlayStation 2, and I mean that. The tracks are detailed extremely well with smooth textures and crisp lines. There is the occasional polygon blockiness, but certainly much less than one would expect from a game for the time. The colors aren’t overly bright, but this was done intentionally to give the game a grittier tone that matches with the trance music.

wipeout xl 3

It’s tough to say what’s better… The soundtrack, the graphics, or the gameplay? How about all 3 are about as perfect as it gets? I’ll go with that because I believe it. Wipeout XL is approaching its 20th birthday and I’m still enthralled with the soundtrack! Granted, my nostalgia kicks in pretty hard every time I boot this disc up, but it has easily been 10 years since I’ve taken this game out of its case. The soundtrack is easily the strongest factor in Wipeout XL‘s ora. I feel engulfed in this futuristic racing lifestyle. Even without a story, I feel deeply involved in the culture surrounding the Wipeout series. Give it a go and you’ll see exactly what I’m talking about.

The controls are top notch and on point from start to finish, but that doesn’t mean you won’t go through a bit of a learning curve. Controlling your hovercraft is very difficult at first as maneuvering through sharp turns is easily the greatest challenge you will face. You can get very close to the walls of the track without slowing down your craft (you’ll actually hear the metal as it lightly scrapes the wall), but if you touch it with any force, your vehicle will come to a dead stop. As you can imagine, this is detrimental to position placement. Fortunately, Psygnosis included an excellent feature to aid in rounding sharp turns; the airbrake buttons (L2 and R2) allow you to navigate through hairpin turns without slowing down or losing much momentum. Mastering the airbrakes is the only way to master Wipeout XL, especially when it comes to more advanced tracks. With the use of the ultra-responsive airbrakes and a moderately wide track, everyone has a great chance at success!

wipeout xl 4

With tons of ingredients, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly which component is the best. There is a heavier emphasis on combat when compared to the original Wipeout. Numerous power-ups and weapons have been added to the mix to increase the game’s intensity… And believe me. It gets intense!

As great as this game is, it’s not all peaches n’ cream. My biggest gripe is the loading time. Even for 1996, this was a bit on the “long” side, but I think I speak for most when I say that long loading times are better than a short render draw distance (read Hi-Octane for Sega Saturn). Each race is loaded with a beautiful track and 11 other racers, so naturally it is going to take a while to load up. But man… When you’re ready to race, it sucks having to wait! And one more thing… I want more tracks! There are only 8 tracks (to my knowledge), and I would have loved to have had more. But at least the tracks are large, detailed, and very gorgeous, so I’ll let it slide.

wipeout xl 2

Overall, Wipeout XL is one hell of a fun time. It’s impossible to play this futuristic racer without getting fully engulfed in the club trance music. While all of the tracks are great in their own way, I have always been especially impressed with Sagarmatha as it features some cool snow effects and an awesome background. A steep learning curve is the only thing that stands in the way of Wipeout XL being even better than it already is. With precision controls, upbeat techno soundtrack, remarkable graphics, and the combative and challenging gameplay, you’ll come back for more over and over.

Nerd Rating: 9 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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2 Comments

  1. I remember absolutely loving this game. I only ever rented it, but I went out in search of it a couple of years later. Never did found it (actually found Wipeout 3 instead and loved it, too) but I have some great memories. It was the first combat racing game I ever played. I thought it was so cool that now, when I got stuck behind that guy that I never could quite pass, I could just shut his ass down with a plasma bolt!

     

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