Wipeout has always been and still is one the best franchises of futuristic racing. Known for great design, electronic music, top notch graphics and mind-blowing speeds, it is very important to PlayStation. But not all is well: in 2012 SCE Studio Liverpool closed. What was to happen to famous series? An oblivion, like it happened to fellow F-Zero? No, as it turned out. Sony still remembers their unique game, and revived it in 2017 with a remaster called Wipeout: Omega Collection. It’s not a new game but rather a collection of the last three titles.
No one can argue that the series hit a hitch in 2012 after Wipeout 2048. The game was a moderate success among the critics, but it still got the lowest scores for the series – and it was released on a failed PS Vita. The game was a good follow-up to previous titles: it had amazing graphics for the hardware and had everything a fan of the series could want. It also had problems – slow loading times for example.
So what is Wipeout? The series is famous, but there are still many people who have never tried it. What’s so great about it? Screenshots show minimalistic design – something not everyone likes. There’s also no story, which may prompt a lot of people to see the game as being barebones. I had the same thoughts: at one point I really wanted to buy Wipeout 2048, but something stopped me. Luckily, Wipeout: Omega Collection has the last two and a half games inside of it, and they look and play better than ever. It’s time to see what all the fuss is about.
The first thing you see after turning on the game is the design. It has always been important to the series and the unique look of the game was created by the famous The Designers Republic studio. As I said previously, it is very minimalistic. Like it or not, but one’s certain – no other game looks like that. Tons of white, curious fonts and other little details make it look both old-fashioned and futuristic at the same time.
The second thing you see is the menu, very ascetic in its nature. It is not easy to understand, and the game doesn’t try to make it easier for newbies.
I am new to the series, and the austere presentation was dazzling to me. It is, after all, the first time this franchise was released for the PS4. But there’s nothing to help the new players. It’s strange, considering that Sony went to great lengths to make their exclusives more approachable; they even invented special policy for naming games. For example, have you noticed that there’s no Killzone 4 but Killzone Shadow Fall and no Infamous 3 but Infamous Second Son?
But Wipeout: Omega Collection doesn’t try. There’s no story, no elements of lore or even a tutorial! I’m no fan of those, but I really needed one. I’ve seen tons of people on the Internet asking the same, but the best they’ve got were links to lengthy YouTube videos. The only thing you can do is learn from your own mistakes. It will be hard in the beginning, but after a couple of races you’ll get the hang of it.
The same can be said about the game world itself. As I understand, there was some kind of lore in the previous games, but no sign of it here. Who am I? Where am I? Why are we racing? Is this Earth? I agree that racing games don’t need elaborate plots with twists, but they oughta have something. I need motivation, otherwise it’s just too… soulless. Just look at what Nintendo has done with F-Zero and Starfox, both great, although dead, franchises. But Wipeout: Omega Collection is not welcoming, not at all. It doesn’t explain anything, nor is it easy to understand with its cellular menu structure, which reminds me of mobile games.
But how is the game itself? Gameplay is the king, after all. First you have to choose a game (within the game), and then race. There are three games in chronological order. Wipeout 2048 is considered a prequel to the two others, but there’s no reason to play it first, as there is not story whatsoever. You can play all three games at the same time.
I wasn’t very kind to the game so far, but the gameplay here is spectacular. The hovercars (or however you call them) handle extremely well, the game runs smoothly without any lags. Try it at least once and you’ll see that this is the real deal. There are a lot of knockoffs like Redout, but nothing comes close to that feeling when you play a first-rate racer. And Wipeout: Omega Collection is anything if not that.
So what are these two and a half games inside? Wipeout HD was made in 2008 when HD was all the rage. It was released in digital form and on disks in the EU. It takes a lot from its predecessors Wipeout Pulse and Wipeout Pure – like tracks – and upscales them to full definition graphics. And now it was upscaled even further – into 4K, if you have PS4 Pro. Wipeout Fury wasn’t a separate game, but a DLC. Wipeout 2048 comes from PS Vita, where it was one the first true exclusives from Sony.
I have to say, the games look astonishingly good, especially for a remaster. There’s virtually no signs of them being 10 years old. The cars, the maps – everything is as sharp and impressive as any other current gen game on the system. Kudos to you, developers – nice job. The game runs in stable 60 FPS – how else? Once again Sony shows dedication to their franchises. Last year we had the excellent Ratchet and Clank remaster and now this.
To all the newbies – beware. The first few hours are no cakewalk. I won’t lie: without the tutorial or simple hints on the screen you’ll find the game punishing, and feel like you’re playing blindfolded. But wait, and you’ll persevere. A couple of races, and you’ll grasp at the controls. There are some options to make these hours more bearable, and the autopilot feature is the most notable. It takes some stress from you and stops the vehicle before it crashes into the wall. A nifty feature, no doubt, but don’t expect to win a lot of races with it. It slows down your vehicle, and being slow is the one thing you can’t afford in Wipeout: Omega Collection.
The first few hours felt disastrous. I was happy to finish fifth or sixth, my vehicle was blowing up consistently and generally I didn’t understand what was needed of me. I declined to watch humongous YouTube videos, believing in my ability to watch and learn. This is arcade racing; how hard can it be?
After a while I got it. I got the fact that Wipeout requires reaction, not precision. I got that bumping into other cars or into the walls only lead to my atomic annihilation.
In fact, after a while I started seeing similarities between the game and the pod racing scene from Star Wars: Episode One. Yes, the speed, the dirty play, the futuristic antigravity vehicles – it’s all there. As an avid fan, I was ecstatic to see one of the craziest action scenes in movie history play out like this. I’s fairly easy to imagine that this game actually shows pod racing – it is set in future, after all. One thing that “spoils” the imitation is the soundtrack, which never masks its Earth origins.
If you want to survive, learn a few rules. First – never use analogue stick to navigate the corners. There’s no need for precision. You’ll also need L2 and R2 buttons for drifting. Without those you’ll never be able to survive.
Otherwise there’s nothing unique. There are a lot of modes – a lot more than I anticipated, in fact. There’s your normal race where you try to come first against a pack of AI opponents. Fast reaction is key, but don’t hesitate to use numerous weapons. Some of your rivals won’t even finish the race in one piece. Sometimes the game reminds me of Mario Kart, which is great, for there I have hundreds of hours of experience.
Not all modes are created equal. I would prefer a lot more of traditional races. They are fast, engaging and simply fun. Not at all like timed laps, of which there are many. Those I dislike with passion. They are, at best, dull. Sure, they are great for practice, but the fact that there are so many of them is disconcerting. You can say that I hate them so much only because I constantly suck at them. You can say that.
Battle modes are something else. These, I like. Especially the ones in Fury. I almost never lose here; maybe, once again, thanks to years of Mario Kart. Shooting your adversaries on track is always fun. Some other modes (like zone mode) are fine as well, offering something different from your classic races.
In many ways Wipeout: Omega Collection feels like a truly old-school experience. While it has fantastic visuals and handling, it completely lacks good presentation. The gameplay is polished to perfection, but the game itself feels sterile and cold. Because of that, I felt no motivation to play. Why bother? To gain another gold medal? Big deal. Once again, it felt like something from a mobile game.
Sure, you can buy new vehicles from many different manufacturers, but do you need to? They aren’t so different from each other. They handle different, sure, but you’ll definitely find something to your liking in the fest couple of hours. Looks matter, sure, but in the midst of a race that’s the last thing you notice. You can try to earn ultra-rare trophies, but don’t expect the hunt for the platinum to be an easy endeavor.
That’s why the game needed some kind of story. Different characters and some drama would make the game feel different. I needed some reason to race. A plot, even a silly one, would make the game thousand times more engaging.
In addition to design, Wipeout is known for its electronic soundtrack, consisting of famous and well-established artists. Wipeout: Omega Collection has lots of fantastic tracks from such greats as The Prodigy and The Chemical Bros. Hit tracks are mixed with lesser known remixes. I enjoyed the OST, but many never quite accepted that part of the game. Modern music clashes a bit with the futuristic nature of the game, but it fits the gameplay perfectly. We all have different taste, but Wipeout has nothing to apologize for.
Sound design overall felt top notch. Music can be heard from all seven channels, as well as other audio. The game sounds every bit as good as it looks with impressive explosions and great use of rear speakers. It’s always fun to leave a mine and then hear your opponent exploding behind you. Fun and informative. Good audio system is highly recommended for this game.
There’s online mode, of course. There are a lot of players. I didn’t really test the game in that aspect, mostly because I suck, but also because the matchmaking system felt all wrong. I know that a lot of people prefer separate lobbies, but I found the system dull. After a couple of times when the game didn’t start because there were not enough players I gave up and returned to the campaign. It should be a lot easier and a lot faster to find the game. Wipeout is not about patience, after all.
Wipeout: Omega Collection is the first appearance of the glorious Wipeout franchise on PlayStation 4. Luckily, it feels like a PS4 game – it looks brilliant, it sounds serious and it plays magnificent. But it doesn’t feel like a full package, although it should. There’s no story, no lore and no tutorial. The game allows players to fail and learn from their mistakes. And sure enough, it works. Every new race brought me a little closer to glory. Every new race I performed better and finished higher. You have to memorize the track and start turning before you even see the turn. That’s the secret recipe.
I tried to be as unbiased as possible. I showed you every little thing that pissed me off. But overall there’s not that many bad things about Wipeout: Omega Collection. Playing it is a very enjoyable experience. It’s hard, but fair. It looks and sounds fantastic.
It is the best version for newbies? Probably. It is a very good remaster, and you won’t regret buying it, especially since it’s priced so reasonably.