The Wipeout series hasn’t had huge success with this generation of console systems. The oft-delayed Wipeout Fusion for PS2 was a decent game and would have been more interesting if it was released within the first year the PS2 was out. But since it came out among the second generation of PS2 games many gamers overlooked it because it looked like a first generation title and took the series away from its PS1 roots. Many would argue that Wipeout XL was the series highpoint and with Wipeout Pure, Studio Liverpool is bringing the Wipeout gameplay back to the glory days.
The Wipeout series has always been about offensive driving at breakneck speeds and the PSP installment won’t deviate from the proven formula. Veterans of the series will be immediately familiar with the speed boosts and weapons placed strategically around the track. The speed boosts are used the same way, as past Wipeout games — just pass over the arrow on the track and you’ll get an instant speed boost. In order to pick up the weapons however, the square button will need to be held when flying over the weapon icons. The weapons range from some select weapons from previous games in the series as well as all new weapons specific to Pure.
The basic controls for Pure remain basically the same as in previous installments. The X button is used for accelerating and the L and R buttons are the left and right airbrakes that help make the tight turns more negotiable. So far, we only know about two modes that will be in the game. First is the single player mode, which places the player in their craft and track of their choice against computer controlled opponents. The second mode, “zone mode” is unlike any mode in past Wipeout games. You race alone, but the catch is the ever increasing in speed. The main goal is beating the track itself as hitting the wall too many times will end up with a wrecked craft. The game will also allow up to 8 players to link up through wi-fi for head to head matches. You can be sure there will be a championship mode of some sort when the game is released.
Studio Liverpool have listened to the Wipeout fans and are developing Pure to be more like Wipeout XL than any other game in the series. There will be a total of 16 tracks in the game when it is released, 4 of which will be remakes of classic PS1 tracks. As you would imagine, the PS1 tracks are getting a major overhaul — aside from the track layout, don’t expect to recognize much. The other 12 tracks are completely new. Pure will be one of the first PSP titles to take advantage of the memory stick for additional content. That’s right, in the future you’ll be able to download extras such as new tracks, songs, crafts, and even in-game menu skins. This will be done through the Wipeout website. First, you’ll download the content onto your computer and then transfer it onto the PSP via USB.
The graphics at this stage are coming along great. The track scenery looks fantastic and is quite varied throughout. The draw distance is phenomenal as well. There are some spots on the track, at high elevations, where you’ll be able to peer down over the whole track. The 4 tracks from previous Wipeout games are graphically being immensely retooled to be on par with the other tracks in the game. The songs selection has always been a huge selling point for the series, but at this point there hasn’t been any mention of which songs will be in the game, but you can bet they will include some sick techno beats.
Wipeout Pure is shaping up to be one of the more impressive of the launch titles for the PSP. It draws comparisons to the arguably best game in the series, Wipeout XL, while adding some new bits of its own. Mixing mostly new tracks with some old classics, adding 8-player wi-fi gaming, and great graphics make this game one to get excited about. And to top it off, the promise of downloadable content for added replay value down the road. Wipeout Pure releases on March 24th alongside the PSP, check back with PSP Advanced around launch time for a full review.