Wipeout Pulse – PSP review

Nintendo have a chubby little plumber. Sega always had a spikey blue sneaker-clad hedgehog. Microsoft came hand in hand with Master Chief, until Bungie upped and scarpered.

As for Sony, they didn’t bother with the traditional method of some kind of heroic idol to stand for all their console meant. Instead, they proudly came with a futuristic racer by the name of Wipeout.

The story goes that Wipeout was one of the major shining lights that transformed gaming from a geeky bedroom hobby to a mass form of entertainment. We all know about the first games being played in clubs by pilled up morons who suddenly decided that gaming was a decent form of entertainment.

So it's no surprise that when Sony launched the PSP, Wipeout again was called upon to go hand-in-hand with the new portable console. And it’s little surprise that we’re due yet another pair of Wipeout titles within the space of a few months. One on the PS3, and this one, on the good old PSP.

Wipeout Pulse, unsurprisingly, fails to stray from the well trodden path of the series. It maintains the sense of style, the dazzlingly futuristic graphical looks, and the incredibly difficult form of racing that’s kept many of us enthralled over the years.

The aesthetics, while not quite carrying the same kind of "wow factor" that the earlier titles had in spades, still maintain the clean lines and unique colour scheme that made the Wipeout games so stunning to look at.

All that would be naught if the frame rate stuttered when the speed of your futuristic floating vehicles started to hit the top notes. But no, the PSP maintains an incredibly smooth ride, which manages a sterling job of focusing your eye direct on the immediate track ahead in the manner that few races could ever boast.

You’ll need every ounce of this focus too. Waver for a split second and you’ll smash straight into the outer walls of the track and be slowed to a crawl as your opponents speed off into the distance. The combination of the weightless brand of steering, ad the separate air brakes for each side of your craft make for the kind of racing experience that few others can claim to possess.

It’s not too harsh to state that Wipeout Pulse is an incredibly difficult game. The early open scope of the initial batches of tracks (you unlock more as you progress through the single-player mode) soon transforms into twists, turns, hairpin bends, and new strips that stick your craft to the track, allowing you to head upside down.

The single-player progression isn’t restricted to simple racing mind you. Elimination modes, time trails; there are all kinds of driving tests to overcome to unlock the next batch of tracks. Even Pure mode, which see’s your ship constantly accelerate around a track, until you succumb to damage, makes an appearance due to its immense popularity in the first PSP Wipeout title.

Verdict

While its futuristic racing style hasn’t changed much over the years, when it’s this much fun, there’s no need for much in the way of tweaking. Yes it can be frustratingly difficult at times when one wrong turn can set you right to the back of the racing pack, but that doesn’t detract from what is such an exciting racing title.

Wipeout Pulse is whole heartedly recommended to both fans of the series, and all who crave a new racing based challenge. A cracking game.