|By Zach Patterson||Sunday, 27 Sep 2009|
Over the course of the next week, I’ll be giving some reviews of some PSP games I played over the
summer that are all part of long running franchises, but nevertheless are pretty great games that can be found pretty cheaply. Wipeout Pure was one of the early “must have”s for the system, and in many ways, it’s both a great portable game, and one of the better Wipeout games in the series. It since has had two sequels in the form of Wipeout Pulse for PSP, and Wipeout HD for PS3. I think what sets makes this version still relevant is the fact that it features extremely tight and well-crafted levels that recall some of the finer moments of what I consider the series’ high point, Wipeout XL.
While the Wipeout games often get lumped into more arcadey futuristic type racers, this one in particular requires as much skill and track memorization as possible. It’s considerably technical, weighing in when to use your air brakes or when to sideshift around turns, whether you want a heavy slow ship or a speedy light one, using speed boosts to your advantages, and finding the best way to nip precious seconds off the clock as your advance through each difficulty class. I enjoy that there are many more ship options than some of the previous games that only offered a handful of ships to start. After you unlock most of the stuff here, there’s roughly two dozen ships available to choose from.
There’s a bevy of unlockable content, and while I’m not wild about the amount of times you have to replay each race in order to get enough medals for new stuff, there’s more than enough free downloadable content to offset any feeling of boredom. Speaking of the free content, there’s so much of it and it’s amazing that they offered so much for free. It’s also very sad that almost no other games on the system followed Pure’s example, as this adds a considerable amount of replay value to the game. While finding the packs requires some internet searching anymore, there’s a dozen new tracks to be added, as well as a dozen new ships. While some of the tracks are welcome returns of “classic tracks”, there’s many completely new courses as well that could have easily been charged for. If you choose to get this game, be sure to go to the trouble of getting these, as they easily doubled the amount of time and effort I chose to put into the game.
The graphics in the game are pretty great, as is usual for most Wipeout games. While not quite as sharp as Wipeout Fusion for PS2, this game is certainly eye catching, and only a few generic tracks really stand out in my mind as things to nitpick about the design. The ships all look colorful, solid, and relatively realistic. The menus are stylish, unified, and futuristic. The music, again, as usual for Wipeout games, features a great array of established and lesser known electronic artists that enhance the feel of this year 2197 hovercraft racer.
If I could find some things to pick at, it’s the fact that the tournaments and racing formats are kinda uninspiring. Each difficulty level makes you race the same courses until you get medals, then you race all the tracks in a row, then you move on again. I think a better system of advancing through the game could and should have been made, as eventually, I just got to a certain difficulty level where the computer felt perfect in piloting and especially lucky and vicious when using weapons, and it just kinda became unfun at that level. At the very least, they could have given me reverse tracks to race on, as much as I’m not wild about that idea. At least it feels relatively different.
The only other thing I can nitpick is that the game takes so long to load, and it gets even worse with the DLC. This is a problem that plagues a lot of PSP games, but the amount of time it takes to just get to a race does not lend itself well to pick up and play gaming. Add to the fact that the game suffers from an overabundance of menu screens and it occasionally makes getting to the game feel like more hassle than its worth.
Luckily, the heart of this game, the racing, is nearly flawless. Each ship has its own feel, and the controls are very responsive. The weapons are balanced and fair, and for the most part, the enemy ships put up a very solid competition. I picked this game up for less than 10 bucks, and I spent hours upon hours unlocking all the cool extras in the game (ships, tracks, artwork), and there’s still a bunch of other things I need to get gold medals in that are keeping me busy even now. If you have a PSP, like racing games, and want an inexpensive game that will tide you over for quite awhile, look no further.