Written by  :  AG Wolf (275)
Written on  :  Oct 03, 2004
Platform  :  SEGA Saturn

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Better than Playstation version? You decide...

The Good

I liked Wipeout because it gave me a chance to see something awesome in my first year of owning a Saturn. I picked up the Saturn late in its life (the system was actually dead, and I got mine for christmas because my ma saw one on clearance for 120 bucks...I had wanted one for so long...). The game was fast, looked good, and had awesome music.

This was long long ago, of course. Now in 2004, I have had experience with every Wipeout game made, including the PSX version of the very first one. And I had since also gotten my chance to compare the two.

While Wipeout was amazing on PSX...the graphics were phenomenal, it was the first time a soundtrack like it had was ever really used in a game, blah blah blah... it wasn't a disgusting failure on the Saturn like other PSX to Saturn ports have been. People have said that the PSX version used music from Orbital and LeftField and Chemical Brothers... well they're wrong... but I won't go into that here, check the trivia section of this game, I'll have added an entry there.

The differences between the two versions set each one above the other in certain areas. The PSX version's graphics RAPED the Saturn. Greater polygon count, insanely smoother framerate, and texture-mapping ability in general. The PSX version also had the ability to create an echo effect on the music as you went through regions of track with high walls or in enclosed tunnel areas. The Saturn version, though, while it was unable to stay on par with the PSX as far as graphics were concerned, and it couldn't replicate the echo feature (well, it has the ABILITY to do it, because you can turn on an echo while using the Saturn's CD player...they just didn't implement the effect in the Saturn version), its sound effect samples were clearer due to the Saturn's ability to store uncompressed sound samples in memory. The graphics weren't completely horrid; although they didn't match the PSX, they were still average for Saturn.

The biggest difference, which often proposes the question of whether the Saturn version out-performs the PSX version, is the fact that Tantalus Entertainment (the people who did the Saturn re-work) tweaked the game engine a bit. One aspect of the PSX version, as noted even in Ashley Pomeroy's review of the Playstation game, was the control. When you hit the edge of the track, you'd stop immediately (much unlike the game's sequel of Wipeout XL/2097, where you could ride the walls lightly without slowing). This was due to the stilted control that was programmed into the game. While Wipeout was a release title for the PSX, was advertised heavilly everywhere (even gracing the silver screen as an early prototype version in the movie "Hackers"), and etc...we all know how early games for the "next-gen" era often fell short in respect to actual gameplay and control. Tantalus fixed this problem, giving the player greater control of the ship (even more control than you had if you used the NeGcon with the PSX version), and in correcting this one tiny problem, they managed to effectively turn the game's replay value around. Flying through the courses became faster, the excitement of blazing your own best times grew, and it allowed the player to take a greater appreciation of the game in general. Few devout Wipeout fans have ever gotten a chance to actually play the Saturn version, and for this, I offer my sympathy. It's just yet another game released for both consoles in which the Saturn version is a worthier purchase.

The Bad

The only thing I didn't like about this game, is not console specific. I just wish it were longer... the hidden track is a good bonus, but even then, it still leaves you wanting more. Wipeout XL/2097 certainly expanded on the series, and is considered by some to be the highest point in the series' lifetime (thus far...)...but there's a totally different atmosphere created by the two games. The only compensation is given by the European and Australian "Wipeout 3: Special Edition" in which some of the old tracks from the first two games were re-visited. Too bad we didn't get that here in the US... we got Wipeout 3, but unfortunately it bombed hard...painfully obvious by the Amazon.com advertisement on the left side of this page right now;

"Wipeout 3" Activision (that's wrong Amazon) New $2.90! Used $3.95!

And I've seen it sell brand new in stores for about 3 - 5 bucks. We never even had a chance to see the special edition.

The Bottom Line

Nostalgic, ground breaking at its release, a long-standing classic. Pick it up, seriously, you won't be disappointed. It's fast, exciting, and if you turn out the lights and up the volume, you'll get whisked away into the future and never want to come back.