REVIEW – Believe it, or not, but one of PlayStation’s most iconic brands is also one of its poorest commercial performers. It’s for that very reason that series creator Studio Liverpool is actually resting in the Sony first-party graveyard alongside other ex-British institutes like Guerrilla Cambridge and Evolution Studios. It’s also the reason of the existence of WipEout Omega Collection: a cheap (“commercially viable”) PlayStation 4 remaster, blending PlayStation Vita entry WipEout 2048 with WipEout HD and famous PlayStation 3 instalment WipEout HD Fury.
You’ll have to admit: WipEout Omega Collection is one large package that culminates into a ton of content. The graphics are indeed impressive, and the gameplay is as fun as it ever was. Still, the Omega Collection feels relatively empty as it lacks anything new included within the package.
Besides that fact, the package is also kind of lacking consistency: its wrapper accounts for both 2048 and HD Fury, but they’re fundamentally different games, and you can’t mix and match. What you have is a release that feels a tad messy; even when you create a multiplayer lobby, you have to select which title you’re going to play. Still, it’s not much of a deal-breaker, but it’s a shame more couldn’t have been done to unify the two experiences.
Anyway, you have three slightly different titles with their own strengths and weaknesses and while 2048’s more contemporary Formula One-inspired circuits are an artistic achievement, but its more simplistic game modes don’t make the most of them; HD Fury is brimming with fascinating spins on the futuristic racing formula, but its sci-fi courses are starting to show their age – even in 4K. Let’s not forget either that some of these tracks date back to WipEout Pure on the PSP.
The single-player structure from each release is the same as well, with the portable origins of 2048 reflected by its quick play events. Single lap sprints are sometimes the order of the day, and it doesn’t always feel particularly fulfilling on a big screen. The destructive Fury events from WipEout HD arguably offer the greatest sense of satisfaction, with unique modes like Zone Battle and Detonator on display.
Speed monster ninjas
Still, the sense of speed and high level of skill required to master each track is a joy. However, I do have a few gripes with the gameplay that I feel like should have been ironed out for this collection. I tried the Autopilot mode sometimes because I suck, but often it stalled me more than it helped me and left me turning directly into walls far too often.
Indeed, for anyone who hasn’t played a WipeOut game before, something you will learn quickly is that there’s a learning curve, and it’s a taxing one. While you’ll muscle your way through the first couple of tracks without too much pain, the layouts later will start demanding precision. In the first couple of tracks bumping into a wall is a mere inconvenience. As the turns start to get sharper and more demanding, a bump like that can lead into a very long recovery, and then you’ll see your opponents leaving you in the dust.
Also, I feel like there’s a really bad balance in the way in which you receive items. For instance, if I’m in the last place, it doesn’t help me out a whole lot to keep earning shield power-ups. If you fall behind too quickly early in the race, the chances are that the items you receive won’t be able to help you catch up to those in front of you.
The campaign is usual
There are three full campaigns on offer here, and they’re complemented by the Racebox mode – an exhaustive selection of modes and options that allow you to set up your events and competitions, be they solo or split-screen. And there’s also the online multiplayer part of course, which follows the more straightforward format of HD Fury as opposed to the ambitious 2048 mission-based take.
There are highs and lows to the package itself, then, but fortunately, the high-speed racing at the release’s core is rock solid. On an HD/4KTV, running at a robust 60 frames-per-second, this is an impressive remaster. While the original HD Fury tracks don’t immediately appear hugely improved outside of the significant PS4 Pro resolution boost, the WipEout 2048 courses dazzle at double the framerate and on an Ultra HD screen.
The games feel as slick as they look, with flawless controller response accompanying an eye-watering sense of speed. The campaigns can be a little slow-going in the early exchanges – a consequence of easing new players in – but once you’re playing on the high-speed classes you’ll almost be able to feel the Gs. The game is truly fast – and what’s impressive is how it manages to maintain such a high level of visual fidelity despite the amount of activity occurring on-screen.
Still a looker
The presentation is nothing short of exceptional either: the look of WipEout is a big part of its appeal, from the graphic design of its teams and arenas through to the minimalistic look of its multiple unlockable user interfaces. All of this is paired with a heavy electronic soundtrack that sometimes sounds like the kind of low-rent trance music you’d expect to accompany sub-par striptease shows on late 90s satellite television, but it fits the ambience.
Despite the package feeling overly familiar at times, there is some new content in the form of an all-new team: Tigron. The high-speed but heavy crafts don’t feel remarkably different to other ones in the game, but they sure look the part, with a metallic livery among those on offer. German manufacturer Van-Über’s also back as a pre-order bonus, though at the time of writing we haven’t been able to test out the WipEout Fusion returnee.
Still fast, but getting old
WipEout Omega Collection is an impressive remaster that shines at high speeds, though elements of this compilation are starting to show their age. Despite being boosted all the way up to 4K on the PS4 Pro, some of the tracks are returning for the fourth time, and while WipEout 2048’s contemporary layouts look luxurious on the big screen, it can be hard to shake the feeling of familiarity on occasion.
That said, if anti-gravity is your thing, then there’s nothing quite like the original – even with the number of inferior pretenders on the racing scene these days.
+ Still a great feel of speed
+ Nice graphics on HD/4K at 60 FPS
+ Wipeout HD, Wipeout HD Fury and Wipeout 2048 in one package
– The gameplay is showing its age
– Nothing new here
– The three games are kind of strange in one package
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Genre: Futuristic racing
Release date: June 6, 2017