Once a shining light amongst Sony’s exclusives, Wipeout epitomised the cool, tuned-in ethos that played perfectly within the PlayStation’s key demographic. It appealed to the cool kids, the clubbers, the gamers growing out of the primary coloured experiences Sega and Nintendo had perfected. As time went by, Wipeout became synonymous with Sony’s consoles, both at home and on the go, until, suddenly, it wasn’t there anymore.
SCE Liverpool, formerly known as Pysgnosis, birthplace of this anti-gravity racer, was unceremoniously closed in 2012, only a short time after releasing one of the PS Vita’s best launch titles in Wipeout 2048. A year and a half later saw the release of the PS4 and though it has since utterly dominated the gaming landscape, there’s been a hole in the console’s software library that only a Feisar-shaped craft can fill.
Without a dedicated studio to create a new Wipeout game though, PS4 owners will have to make do with up-rezzed versions of the last few titles. The PS Vita’s Wipeout 2048 is joined by Wipeout HD and Fury, which also appeared as DLC for the handheld title, having originated on the PS3, and which were themselves HD versions of the PSP’s Wipeout Pulse and Pure. While these tracks have never looked better, there’s the possibility that you’ve been racing around them for the best part of twelve years. That doesn’t seem to matter much when they’re hurtling by at eye-bleeding speeds on a 55” 4K TV.
If you’ve got the 4K HDR TV to suit, Wipeout Omega Collection will display at either a native 4K if you turn the motion blur effect off or a checkboarded 2160p with it enabled. On top of that, you get lovely HDR as wel, and the series’ trademark 60fps action is delivered more or less flawlessly, with only the odd stutter during the pre-race passover. It’s truly something to behold. The only way to play 2048 on a TV screen before now was with a hacked PSTV, and it’s safe to say that this is much less faff and looks much more impressive. Sure, it’s a shame we’re not getting a brand new Wipeout that really pushes the PS4’s capabilities, but this isn’t a bad substitute by any stretch.
There is a clear visual difference between the 2048 portion of the game and HD and Fury, though it’s much less jarring if you’re set on a particular version rather than jumping back and forth. As the more modern release, it’s no surprise that 2048 looks the more attractive, and thanks to the earlier setting its track design is much more characterful. Perhaps more unsettling for players will be the difference in handling between the Vita game title and those from the PS3. HD and Fury feel much tighter than 2048, and though it makes sense given that they’re different games set in different eras, it can be tough to transition between the two – at least for the first lap or two.
We’ve played much of HD and Fury before – three times by my count – but really, it’s all about getting your hands on 2048, and playing it shorn of the PS Vita’s constraints. Moving from the cramped controls and ditching the short analogue sticks of Sony’s under-supported handheld is transformative, and the tracks gain a new sense of scale and space from being displayed on a larger screen. Using the vastly superior DualShock 4 also makes a big difference here, and though you may know these tracks, you’ve never been given the best tools with which to tame the until now.
The online portion of the game is fairly comprehensive, and you can make plenty of changes to the set-up of online races, and form your own lobby using all of the collection’s 26 tracks. Those hoping for ranked matchmaking are also in luck, and you rank up as you progress through the online multiplayer. You also collect badges which display at the end of a race, such as for obtaining the highest speed or performing the most barrel rolls, all of which are added to your profile. The first time I’ve played Wipeout with two player split screen for a number of years, it’s as raucous and enjoyable as you’d hope.
Beyond the upscaled visuals, the other changes are fairly meaningless, though they’ve all been done to try and tie the different parts of the collection together. The announcers are now unified across the game, with weapon warnings making the jump from the HD tracks to the 2048 ones, while pickup announcements make the jump in the opposite direction. It’s something that purists will no doubt frown at, but it makes sense to have parity between the old and the new.
That same ethos hasn’t really passed across to the game’s soundtrack. Though artists that are indelibly linked to the series such as The Chemical Brothers and Prodigy contribute some of their newer material, the emphasis is on modern electronica, and though its heart-pumpingly intense beats fit perfectly with the action and with the series’ outlook, it seems a shame that there aren’t a few more nods to where the series has come from. Of course, you can just fire up a Spotify soundtrack and listen to as much Leftfield and Orbital as you like, but there needs to be some CoLD SToRAGE to really hit the spot.
Wipeout Omega Collection pulls together some of the series’ most recent highlights and uses the power of the PlayStation 4 Pro to keep the franchise on the technological bleeding edge – and it does so in spectacular fashion. This feels like far more than a tentative step towards a fully-fledged new entry, proving that as long as there’s PlayStation, there should be Wipeout.
Version tested: PlayStation 4 Pro