The WipEout franchise stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Crash Bandicoot as one of the original flagship titles for the PlayStation, despite originally appearing on the Saturn and PC alongside its initial release. During the PS1 and PS2 eras, WipEout was synonymous with Sony, bringing high-speed futuristic racing like F-Zero, combined with the power-ups and strategy of Mario Kart, all to the beat of awesome electronic soundtracks. While its developers, Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis), have now closed, they did release their magnum opus in the form of the excellent WipEout 2048 in 2012… onto the PlayStation Vita, thus ensuring nobody played it. A shame, as not only was it a hugely fun game in its own right, but the developers were even able to add in the entire content of WipEout HD and Fury for free if you already owned the games digitally – a fantastic deal.
Now, it’s time for the rest of the world to finally get up to speed, as WipEout Omega Collection brings this entire package over to PS4. If you own and have clocked the PS Vita version like I have, be aware that you are essentially getting the same content here – all the tracks, events, manufacturers and vehicles from WipEout 2048, WipEout HD and HD’s expansion Fury. That being said, now we’re playing with the power of PS4 (and even moreso with PS4 Pro), and WipEout Omega Collection brings enhanced visuals, a frame-rate as smooth as a shaved pick-up line and classic split-screen local multiplayer.
If you’re not familiar with WipEout, it’s the pure video-game translation of adrenaline. Set in the future, the games follow a series of violent and insanely high-speed racing tournaments, in anti-gravity ships that float with zero friction along the track. Power-up pads along the circuits can provide defensive or offensive help – like speed boosts to get the edge on competitors (or sent you flying off the track, if you’re not careful), or offensive weapons that can maim or outright destroy and permanently remove other players from a race. When you’re new to the game, you’re constantly fighting not just other ships but the track itself, learning how exactly to pilot around without grinding into walls with every turn. But, it’s also a game that rewards practice and technical skill, especially if you find the ship that’s right for you, as you learn to airbrake, barrel roll and memorise every shortcut in every track. It’s fast-paced, teeth-grittingly tense and an insane amount of fun.
Omega Collection also adds a new, revamped soundtrack. WipEout is well known for helping to popularise electronic dance music artists, and some of them return here, with familiar tracks from The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers, alongside newish artists like ADDIKTON and CODE:MANTA. Like always, the music blends seamlessly into gameplay, and there’s actually been a handful of times I’ve had to pause the game to look up the track on Spotify for later listening. It’s interesting – despite not featuring actual gameplay content from the original 90’s games, there’s a fair whiff of nostalgia for those titles in Omega Collection, from old returning artists to the special pre-order artwork for some retail copies, which makes the game look like a PlayStation 1 title.
Speaking of WipEout Omega Collection‘s gameplay – it remains as impressive and deep a package as the patched WipEout 2048 was on PS Vita. There are 26 circuits in total alongside 46 different ships, from manufacturers fans are all familiar with like Qirex, AG Systems and Pirahna. There were minor gameplay changes between WipEout HD, Fury and 2048, and these are reflected with each game’s content cordoned off into its own section from the main menu. Playing through races and tournaments from each title brings up their appropriate HUD, although the controls are universal across each game, making it easy to switch between each game.
Of the three, 2048 was always my pick as most polished and exciting – striking in its game modes a balance between encouraging combat but not letting it bog down the speed or pace of the game. Fury pushed a little too hard into combat, in my opinion, with Eliminator mode making races stretch on for far too long as each player tries to rack up enough points by damaging other ships – almost bringing a Deathmatch-style of gameplay into a racing game. That said, the mine-destroying Detonator mode from that game was a surprisingly fun diversion. WipEout HD is especially memorable visually, with some great track designs that take you diving into the ocean or through neon tunnels. Everyone will have their own favourites – I haven’t even mentioned ‘Zone’, where you’re forced to keep accelerating around a track until you set a new record, or explode. Online, of course, is also available for up to eight players. There’s just such a breadth of content here, that if you’ve ever been a WipEout fan, there’ll be something for you.
As a smoothly running, better looking translation of one of the PlayStation Vita’s best games, there’s really not a lot to fault with WipEout Omega Collection. If anything, the lack of additional content since that game is disappointing, though understandable given Studio Liverpool’s closure. I almost wish there was an optional PS VR mode for this release, although knowing how queasy Driveclub VR made a lot of players, I can certainly see a WipEout VR game becoming a popular ipecac replacement.
WipEout Omega Collection is a must-buy if you have any love or nostalgia at all for the series, as it looks fantastic, plays extremely smoothly and has enough content to keep you busy for months. The only people who may need to think twice are the ten or so PS Vita owners out there who bought WipEout 2048, but even then Omega Collection runs so well on PS4, and is being offered at a budget price, that it might be worth double dipping just to get another taste of adrenaline.
- Huge volume of WipEout content at a great price - Tight racing mechanics, fun combat - Lots of varied modes and events in single-player, online is fun too - Buttery smooth framerate
- Essentially the same content as the WipEout 2048 release on Vita