Wipeout 2097 was the very first game I owned on PlayStation. Sure, my parents had bought a few games but Wipeout 2097 was the first game I could call my own. To this day I consider Wipeout 2097 the greatest racing game I have ever played, and ever since I got a taste of Sony’s iconic futuristic jet racer, I’ve jumped into the cockpit of every iteration they’ve released. When Sony announced the Wipeout Omega Collection at last year’s E3 presentation I gave a celebratory fist pump, and despite the fact that the Omega Collection doesn’t include a remastered 2097, I was buoyed by the fact that the series appeared to have a future. The Wipeout Omega Collection is made up of remasters of Wipeout 2048, Wipeout HD and Wipeout Fury, and features the same adrenaline-fuelled vehicular combat racing that many of us grew to love during our quondam preadolescence and teenage years. Back with an electrifying new soundtrack and irresistible revamped visuals thanks to the harnessed power of the PS4 Pro, Wipeout Omega Collection reminds us once again that Wipeout is a big-time player in the racing genre.
It’s good to be back
Each title offers a range of different races spread across three separate competitions or seasons for players to test their jet pilot chops. There are nine different modes available, including your the stock-standard Single Race, Time Trial and Speed Lap. There are also the more exotic modes in the form of Zone events (where you race on neon-infused tracks and your hovercraft gathers speed the longer it remains intact), Exterminator races (where the aim is to… wipeout… your opposition), and Detonator mode (where you must destroy a certain amount of bombs before they destroy you).
Out of the three, Wipeout 2048 is possibly the weakest entry due to its weaker level ranking system, and I found myself constantly sucked into HD’s and Fury’s superior gold medal chasing vortex. There are 26 tracks in total, all of which are mirrored, meaning there’s a juicy 52 tracks for you to conquer, as well as the game’s online races. My favourite event type was the Zone races, where the aural crescendo matched your vehicle’s growing speed as you rocketed around the neon tracks trying your best not to hit the wall despite driving over 500 km/h. I’m currently ranked tenth in the world on one of these tracks (at the time of writing), basically, I am a living legend.
Neon for speed
Despite the balls-to-the-wall speed of your craft, the handling of the better vehicles is like the majestic flight of a falcon as it soars gracefully through the sky thanks to left and right airbrakes (L2 and R2)
Just like old times, the game is fairly unforgiving too; it tests your hand-eye skills right out of the blocks, and it’s not uncommon to have to retry races several times before hitting the race target (whether they be a certain race position or amount of progress in a Zone event). Even on Novice difficulty (the game’s default difficulty), the races and time trials can be a challenge until you unlock better craft. Eventually you’ll start to believe your own hype that you’re some hotshot pilot, right up until the point where the game’s ruthless elite difficulty puts you back in your place.
The game’s combat is as fun and chaotic as it’s always been. There’s a good amount of tasty weaponry for you to turn your opponent into junkyard scrap, ranging from lock-on missiles, plasma bombs, rockets and the ever-trustworthy auto-pilot. However, you’ve got about as much chance of getting the weapon you want as you do winning the local pub’s meat tray. This only adds to the intensity of the race, as you have to make the good weapons count when you have them. Additionally, if you find yourself making up the numbers, then receiving futile weaponry makes it harder to pull off a John Farnham (read: a comeback).
Running at 4K and 60 frames on the PS4 Pro with HDR enabled, the game is a visual feast
One of the rudimentary features of any racer is that the controls must be intuitive. Thankfully and unsurprisingly Wipeout nails this with a simple control scheme. Despite the balls-to-the-wall speed of your craft, the handling of the better vehicles is like the majestic flight of a falcon as it soars gracefully through the sky thanks to left and right airbrakes (L2 and R2). Of course some vehicles handle like an overfed one-legged seagull (that actually has two legs the bastard!) and take a little more getting used to, but it’s never like trying to navigate Chadstone Shopping Centre’s car park with a Boeing 747. I’m no Sebastian Vettel when it comes to racers, but I’d put Wipeout’s handling in the top echelon of the racing genre.
All the racing teams from previous releases are here (not surprising considering it’s a remaster), and as you progress, new vehicles will unlock across the selection of teams. However, in order to progress you’ll need to leave your loyalty in the hangar, as different races are better suited to particular teams. In the past I have been an avid fan of both Piranha and Goteki 45, and while I tried to use them as much as possible, I had to expand my horizons and jump into the cockpits of Triakis, Assegai and more to be a contender. As you win more races, you gather more points which in turn unlocks more competitions and new craft (there are 46 ships overall). It’s somewhat grindy when you’re struggling initially, however after a dozen or so races you’ll have a good enough arsenal of ships to be competitive in every event type.
Where do your loyalties lie?
Running at 4K and 60 frames on the PS4 Pro with HDR enabled, the game is a visual feast. The tracks are laden with vibrant colour and detail that previous iterations and console generations haven’t the grunt to deliver. Driving your aircraft at breakneck speeds whilst tackling the tracks and their sharp turns create some heart-in-mouth and sweaty palm moments. The visuals never seem overwhelming despite the ferocious speed of your vehicle and everything being a blur as you tear down the tracks dodging mines, rockets and other craft while explosions go off around you like a fish milkshake in the sun. The game’s technical performance is also flawless, with no frame rate drops and no noticeable input lag (except maybe when I was playing it over the weekend pissed as a fart, but that was a different input lag). Even on the vanilla PS4 the game runs as smooth as a freshly washed and waxed Piranha hovercraft.
Lastly, as mentioned above, the game’s soundtrack is again another feather in its cap. Its perfectly timed crescendos not only add to the intensity of the races but inspires you to find an extra gear to steal the victory or crush your previous personal best. Plus, if you need some to hear some bangers before heading out on a Saturday night, there’s more than enough here to get you in the mood.
Just when you think Sony have taken an IP out to the back shed as if it were Old Yeller, they slap a bit of polish on and remind everyone that their catalogue of yore is filled with some ripping titles. Even though the Omega Collection is a trilogy of remasters, it’s still one hell of a good time and one of the best racing titles available. I’m normally not one to advocate buying a remaster, however the Wipeout Omega Collection is an essential purchase for PlayStation fans, both old and new.
Reviewed on PS4 and PS4 Pro