I remember first playing Wipeout on a demo disc from PlayStation Magazine way back in 1995. At the time, the game felt fast as hell, and blasting around a futuristic race track while shooting missiles at other players was a riot. Then Mario Kart 64 for the Nintendo 64 came out and we all stopped playing. Fast forward 20+ years and players can now re-enter this shiny, colourful, and ridiculously fast-paced world of rocket powered hovercraft racing with the WipEout Omega collection, which is a three-pack entry containing WipEout HD, WipEout Fury, and WipEout 2048, all rendered in glorious HD (or 4k for you Pro owners) at a blisteringly smooth 60fps.
First things first, if you’re into this series (whether an old fan or new), a crucial element is a sense of speed. In 1995, WipEout blew minds. It was like a 3D F-Zero on meth, and the sense of blasting around a track at a supersonic speed was visceral. This was before modern elements like motion blur and HD. Hitting several boosts in a row on an HD TV ramps up the sensation of speed and really allows players to feel like they’re driving a supersonic racecraft rather than just holding a button and watching a gauge go up on-screen. It’s a fantastic game to re-release in an era where television screens are getting a bit ridiculous when it comes to colour and clarity.
On that note, updating games from previous generations can be a difficult task. Oftentimes, even when upscaled, remakes and remasters retain that pre-HD look, and visual aspects like aliasing, draw distance, and textures still look, well, old. WipEout Omega Collection, thankfully, has avoided these pitfalls, and looks simply stunning. Colours pop, which is super important in a game like WipEout that relies on a flashy and futuristic aesthetic. Textures aren’t super detailed, but all the lines are clean and the game looks fabulous in motion. Effects like boosts, rockets, mines etc. are bright and vibrant, and combine well with the tracks and ships to create a lively and colourful racing experience.
Another notorious (in a good way) feature of the WipEout games were the kickass soundtracks. When one is blasting around a futuristic race track at supersonic speeds, one requires some wicked tunes to amp up the experience. Nothing gets the blood flowing quite like a booming techno track cranked in the background as you finally squeeze past the lead racer and find yourself in first place. On top of the already awesome tracks included with the game, you can use the Spotify PlayStation 4 app to customize your own experience to the tunes that get you personally amped. For me, the machine gun drumming from bands like Thy Art is Murder gets me feeling a bit more aggressive than a fun and bouncy House track.
There is a hell of a lot of depth to the games as well. Even past the fact that this package includes WipEout HD, WipEout Fury, and WipEout 2048, the game features 26 reversible tracks to play around with. Unfortunately, some tracks are certainly more fun than others, and after a few hours of playing, they do seem to blend together a bit. However, this is essentially the same for almost every racing game, and learning the ins and outs and particular idiosyncrasies of each course become fundamental in mastering what eventually becomes a crazy-difficult experience.
With nine game modes to choose from, players have plenty to sink their teeth into, including Time Trial, Zone Battle, Career Mode and a personal favourite, Detonator, which forces racers to avoid or shoot mines to score points over multiple laps. As someone who got frustrated with the high level of difficulty in some of the later stage racing modes, this was a fun way to take a break from the intense racing.
WipEout Omega Collection doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table, but it does offer the best possible version of all three games and plays like a dream. It’s a fast-paced, gorgeous, smooth ride with a surprising level of replayability and challenge. In a generation rife with remakes and remasters, WipEout Omega Collection stands out as a particularly well-crafted, beautiful update to the original games, and is especially awesome when considering the incredible fidelity offered by modern televisions. It’s nothing new, but it doesn’t need to be.