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Written by  :  Ashley Pomeroy (233)
Written on  :  Mar 10, 2004
Platform  :  PlayStation
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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A little piece of history

The Good

By itself Wipeout is visually striking, designed to a tee by the Designer's Republic. The graphics were very attractive at the time, still quite nice nowadays, and as a showcase for the Playstation it sold many a unit. The soundtrack - including Orbital and Leftfield - gave the game and the console credibility amongst the twenty-something audience Sony sought, in contrast to the fannish teenage audience Sega seemed to be going for. That Sony have shaped the world subsequently is testament to their instincts; apart from Tomb Raider, what other Playstation titles from the first couple of years are remembered nowadays?

The Bad

As a game, rather than a showcase for the Playstation, Wipeout is limited and very basic. Your opponents don't put up much of a fight and once you've memorised the tracks you'll never lose; furthermore you can't ever lap them. The racing league is flawed, in that you can win all but one of your races, fail the last and still lose the league (rather like real-life Formula One in the 1960s). The difficulty curve is initially annoying, as you tend to come to a dead stop if you so much as brush the walls, and you will. Overall the game has a very basic, spartan feel to it nowadays; Colin McRae's Rally and Gran Turismo were the Next Big Things on the Playstation and trump Wipeout thoroughly.

The Bottom Line

The Playstation's Killer App if ever there was one, although it came out on the Saturn and PC a year later. My abiding memory of Wipeout is seeing a Playstation and a Sega Saturn side-by-side in the local computer shop, the Playstation running this and the Saturn running Sega Rally Championship. I knew in my heart that it was all over for the Saturn at that point. Nowadays Wipeout is an interesting chapter in the transformation of computer games into big-budget mainstream entertainment, and widely available on budget. Once you get the hang of it the racing is fluid and entertaining, although taken purely as a game Wipeout is no classic.