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SummaryA interesting piece of history, but little else.
The GoodI liked...some...stuff.
The BadTHERE WAS A LOT I DIDN'T LIKE ABOUT THIS GAME.
The Bottom LineSo, Wipeout. Everybody loves Wipeout right? Even the first one? Not so much. There are a number of reasons for that. First, a little info. In the future there is, get this, hover crafts! Really fast hover crafts! And just like today, humans must professionally race things that go fast! The manual tells the story of how this sport got to where it is, but it basically boils down to being the Indy 500 of the future. But with repulsors, not V12s.
So you start out the game, and from the get go, you have a generous selection of crafts and and tracks to choose from (Six tracks in total.). One class of crafts is unlocked in championship mode. The other class has four craft manufacturers, and two crafts for each one. Each one varies in weight, but I couldn't tell a difference on the track.
The game features the standard championship, single race, time trial and multiplayer modes. Nothing out of the ordinary here. Except the multiplayer. I was going to check out that option and, what the hell? Searching for other Playstation unit? What does that mean? Oh yeah! The parallel.. link.. cable. Did anybody ever buy that? I have exactly ONE other game that even uses it. Why can't I use the second controller port? Who wants to drag a console, another copy of the game, AND A TV to their friends house just to play a game? Err. So multiplayer is out the window, but I'm sure the single player will be better! *Siiigghh*
Now before I get to the racing, I simply have to mention how GORGEOUS this game is. Especially for such a early PS1 game. Almost everything is brightly colored, well texured polygons. 98% of the stuff on the side of the track is polygon as well. Giant signs, structures and rolling landscapes add to the atmosphere. There isn't much pop-up or clipping either. Aside from the tracks, the crafts themselves look great. The different crafts are really just the same model with a different set of textures on them, but they look really cool. Even the menus look cool. The icons are all large polygon objects that look reasonably close to the real thing. (Memory card, controller, exct.)
The game in general oozes visual style. I'm not sure what you would call the art style of this game, but I'm going to call it...post modern\communist urban techno scifi rave style. (Don't you just love art?) You know the kind. Futuristic fonts, lots of little moving lines, cubic and circular character designs, unknown text and numbers all over the place pointing to things? It's great eye candy and adds extra flare to a already awesome looking game.
Well enough blabbering about the graphics, onto the racing! The controls are pretty basic. X is acceleration, circle fires your weapon, triangle toggles between first person or external view, and the R2 and L2 are the air brakes. The air breaks are tricky. When you go into a sharp turn, you have to hit them at just the right time, or you'll crash into the corner. But then again, you might be crashing a lot anyway.
Why? Well, once you start a race, you get up to speed pretty fast. The sense of speed is exhilarating! But the first tight turn you come to and, BAM! You hit it! And then you're ping ponged a few times on the walls before you get going again. This happens a LOT. Why? Well, the manual say that the game is compatible with the PS1 Mouse. Hmm. Why would that be? Could the D-pad on the controller not be precise enough to properly steer the ship? Why I'll be damned, IT IS! At first anyway. You can play with it, but it takes a LOT of practice. Just to review this game, I had to use a third party PS2 controller that lets you use the analog sticks to play regardless of whether or not the game uses them. The handling was dramatically smoother, and more precise. But even then, I found myself still eating it a lot.
It's even worse when you're racing against other people though. They're always hitting you with weapons. Don't worry though, they're not very powerful. I never seemed to get anything but lock on missiles, and even then, they only worked when the target was directly in front of you. There's also a shield, but it barely lasts one section of track. Why include the weapons at all? Sure they do some damage and slow you down a bit, but it's not like they're strategic or anything. They just seem like a randomly tacked on feature.
Then there are the speed boost arrows. (Blue arrows on the ground always make hover craft go faster right?) This would seem to be a good thing as they're all over the damn place! It's as if the developers knew that players would be constantly slowing down so they put them all over the track. But you're already going really fast, and these arrows make you go so fast, it's hard to adjust to the new speed. Tight turns? Not even the air brakes will save you. Which brings up another thing. What's with the air brakes? Why do I need two drift brakes when a single regular brake would have been just as good, or even better? I can't even make tight turns WITH the air brakes!
Which brings me to my biggest complaint. All the problems this game has could have been greatly alleviated by one, simple thing: WIDER TRACKS. The first track is plenty wide, and only has one narrow area. But subsequent tracks get so narrow, and have such tight turns, if you make one mistake, you lose you field position. It's even hard to get a position above seventh most of the time. All of this has ruined what once could have been a decent racing game.
OK! So the racing isn't so hot. Please tell the music and sound effects are good at least! You know what? I couldn't fricking tell you! This is the part that makes me really mad! The sound effects and music volume move in unison. But not like you think. Turn the music up, the sound effects go down. Turn the music down, the sound effects go up. Who the hell told Psygnosis that was ok?!?!?! If you want to hear both, you have to turn the volume on the tv waaayyy up. Not that it ultimately matters. The sound effects are pretty boring, but at least the music doesn't sound horribly dated. It's 90s techno, so I'm not sure whether that's good or bad, but I thought it was rather unremarkable. At least the audio is consistent with the game environment. Go through tunnel? It echos. Get near the grand stands? You hear the crowd cheering you on for some reason. Small, but nice touches.
So let's recap. The graphics are gorgeous, the controls are highly suspect, the game would have been better with wider tracks and the sound is boring. I really wanted to like this game, but it just has way too many flaws to forgive. It's a interesting historical item, but little else. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a post modern\communist urban techno scifi rave to go to.