One of best racing series of the last five years, possibly the best on the Playstation, has been expanded with the newly released Wipeout 3. The high-tech and stylish speedfest from the future is back with new tracks, ships, weapons for you to master. The first installment was the reason for many impulse purchases of Playstations a few years ago. The question now is, why would you buy this game since you probably already own or have played at least one of the previous versions to death?
The developers have chosen not to deviate too much from the original game design. This shows wise judgement on their part, since their last efforts were instant classics. What they have chosen to do, however, is to improve everything which made the last versions so good.
The super-modernistic look is back, thanks to the collaboration of the talented people at Psygnosis and Designer's Republic. All the cool logos and fonts are also here delivering that distinctive look and flair we're used to from Wipeout. As for the actual game graphics, I'm amazed at Psygnosis for managing to create kick-ass visuals on a thirty-two bit system, especially when there's a system out there with four times the power. The overall style of the environments has not changed much but everything looks sharper and smoother than ever before. There is no pop-up to be found in the pretty backgrounds. Flocks of birds scatter as you zoom by leaving nothing but a bright, momentary, trail behind. The tracks and sleek ships have all been meticulously designed with high-res polygons and colorful varied textures. Visually the game is stunning and the developers achieve what they're striving for: A twenty-second century setting where anti-gravity racing is still the most popular sport on the planet.
With dual shock/analog support the control is much easier to pick up this time around. The placement of the air brakes (shoulder buttons) and the sticks are a definite match for this game. The analog control provides a responsiveness which just cannot be duplicated with the directional pad. No longer will loyal Wipeout players have to play through the pain of sore left thumbs when trying to conquer those insane and deviously placed turns. You have total control over the nose of your vehicle which aids you tremendously when you want to hug the corner of an eighty-degree turn or when you have to land smoothly off a tricky jump. Unfortunately, the track walls are still very unforgiving even if you happen to bump into them ever so slightly. All your competitors will easily pass you if you do. Just keep reminding yourself not to accelerate on the turns and you'll be cruising along just fine.
Once you have a feel for the steering, your attention should be focused on using theweapons and defensive items which you pick up by passing over the weapon grids and speed pads dispersed strategically over the track. Speaking of strategy, you're going to have to formulate a successful one for yourself. There are four new racing teams (eight total) each with their own advantages and drawbacks. Find the team who can emphasize your strong points and suppress your weaknesses. Will it be the newly formed Assegai Developments or the original AG systems who started it all? Be prepared to encounter unmerciful AI, the kind that wonít think twice about placing an impenetrable 'force wall' in front of you while your going over 500 mph. This 'force wall' is one of the 11 power-ups at your disposal. Not knowing when to discard weapons and when to use them is detrimental to your success. Mines and gravity shields, for example, will come in handy when your ahead of the pack. On the other hand, if your behind, the aforementioned 'force wall' or homing multi-missiles will do just fine.
The single player elimination, challenge, and tournament provide plenty of replay value. Nonetheless, even more replay value is added by the new split-screen feature which adds a whole new level of competition to the list. For those of you folks who were ticked off because you needed two of everything plus a link-cable to play with another human opponent, you can now release that anger playing against your pals with a choice of vertical or horizontal split-screen. There is virtually no slowdown or pop-up when playing with two players, but you do lose the option of a cockpit view. This is the feature that most Wipeout fans were waiting for and a veritable reason for those who never bought Wipeout to buy this new version.
Another plus is the kicking soundtrack which pumps your adrenaline and gets you ready for action. The music in the Wipeout series has always been excellent and this Wipeout is no exception. World-renowned Dj Sasha has put together some beautiful sounds that perfectly match the look and feel of the game. The Chemical Brothers, Orbital and Underworld are amongst the musicians featured on the game soundtrack. Just listen and let yourself slip into a deep trance where all that matters is getting to finish line before anyone else, and oh yeah, going sickeningly fast.
Wipeout 3 is definite proof that the Playstation is still alive and kicking. All the elements that make games great are present in Wipeout 3. There's great gameplay, beautiful graphics, a bumpin' soundtrack, and the newly introduced split-screen feature. Buy this game for your Playstation, enjoy it now, and I'm pretty sure you'll be enjoying it on your Playstation 2 as well.
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