The WipEout series of racing games is an iconic PlayStation franchise, having appeared on every single Sony game system since the original. The PS4 is set to receive its first WipEout release, the WipEout Omega Collection. Sporting a remaster of WipEout HD, WipEout Fury, and WipEout 2048, it’s time to see what Sony’s current system can do with a franchise known for its intense audiovisual flair.
Eye-Searingly Good Looks
First and foremost, this is the best-looking WipEout game ever released. An intense mix of high-contrast environments and futuristic visual effects will melt your eyeballs if you’ve got your PlayStation 4 hooked up to a 4K, Ultra High Definition (UHD) television. Double the eye-melting goodness if you also have a High Dynamic Range (HDR) set, because colors will pop so hard you’ll swear the game’s running in glasses-free 3D.
What good is a WipEout game without a thumping soundtrack? 28 audio tracks are available at launch with this collection, ostensibly drawing from all three featured games. The soundtracks are not limited to each game, either, so you can expect to hear music from 2048 in HD and/or Fury, and vice versa. It’s a hard-hitting soundtrack that is electronica heavy, and while music is a highly subjective art form, in this humble reviewer’s opinion, any video game that includes The Prodigy as an audio track is a winner.
Rest assured, WipEout’s signature tight controls are here in full force. The development trio of Sony XDev, Clever Beans, and EPOS Game Studios saw to it that the controls you’re used to have been transferred over, while also allowing for mapping if you decide you’d rather try something else out. The game’s notorious difficulty curve is still well-represented in these games, as well. While things start out fairly easy, once you unlock Rapier-class ships, things quickly become dauntingly challenging. The ability to toggle between three difficulty levels helps somewhat, but even the Novice setting is tasking at higher levels.
The WipEout Omega Collection is bursting at the seams with content. For under $40, you’re getting what is essentially three different games. There’s WipEout HD, its expansion pack Fury which came with a very meaty campaign, and the previously Vita-exclusive WipEout 2048. It’s the latter of those three which is perhaps the most exciting to see in this collection. While 2048 was a fine entry in the series, serving as a prequel to the original game, it also marked the first game in some time that saw the development of new tracks. But being on the Vita had its drawbacks – criticism of the game included long loading times. On the PS4 with its laptop-class hard drives, loading times are quite fast, and now it seems that the game can be played in its ultimate form, on the big screen.
At any point in the action, you can pause and enter the game’s photo mode. Here, you can swap between any available ship, and have complete camera control around that ship in order to frame your perfect shot. You can adjust things like aperture, depth of field, and choose from a few choice angles. While there are no filtering options available, whatever social application you are using to share these shots can likely fill in the gaps. It’s a useful and fun addition that will no doubt help to spread the word regarding just how gorgeous the WipEout Omega Collection is.
Beyond the included campaigns, you can also enter the “Racebox” game mode, which allows you to set various race parameters and go race, whether by yourself, against AI opponents, or in split screen. You can race competitively against one other person in local matches; four-player splitscreen would have been incredible, but was sadly not offered here. This feels like a missed opportunity, but I’ll gladly take any sort of local multiplayer over none at all. Rounding out the game’s options is a statistics mode, which alerts you to all the different stats which are being generated every time you play the game. You can find out your win/loss percentages, successful barrel roll counts, maximum zone reached in Zone mode, and perhaps the best statistic of them all: time spent reading statistics.
Online racing with up to seven other competitors is supported in a separate online mode, however we were unable to test this portion of the game out as of this review because the server population was incredibly low. Hopefully things open up once the game launches, and we can update our review with our findings. It appears to offer similar online options to what WipEout HD and Fury offered, which is fairly no-frills and should serve its purpose.
So, this particular collection of games is wonderful. However, if there’s one gripe I had, it’s this: many of us have already played all three of these games. While it’s nice to see WipEout HD, Fury, and 2048 running with such high graphical fidelity, the time has come for new WipEout content. Perhaps this is Sony’s way of gauging interest in an industry that is markedly different from when WipEout was at its most popular. Whatever the case, if you’ve memorized the tracks from before, then there are no surprises here, and other than one new ship, nothing new to see.
The WipEout Omega Collection is all the WipEout goodness a fan could want. You’ve basically got the most modern rendition of a PlayStation classic in UHD and HDR, at a blistering frame rate and with an accompanying booming soundtrack. Yet for those of us who played these three games to death, this collection will serve as a painful reminder that we haven’t seen new WipEout material on a home console in a long time. Regardless, given all the content on offer for a sub-$40 asking price, the WipEout Omega Collection is a no-brainer purchase for gamers of all kinds.
Review code for WipEout Omega Collection provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4 Pro. For more information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.