The alpha, and… Well, you get the point.
Game: Wipeout Omega Collection
Developer: Sony XDEV, Clever Beans & EPOS Game Studios
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Reviewed on: PS4 (Review code provided)
If you’re a fan of those “I love the decade” shows, you’ll probably have seen someone on the 90’s edition talking about Wipeout through some rose tinted glasses, no doubt enthusing about how it was the absolute pinnacle of post-club entertainment, with its pulsing soundtrack and psychedelic visuals keeping the most hardened clubber up well into the next morning. It was the game that cemented the PlayStation as the place where gaming began to grow up. If, by some miracle, you’re not sure what Wipeout is, then the easiest explanation is that it’s Zero-G Mario Kart, with kick-ass, uber-fast spaceships instead of cartoon plumbers and dinosaurs sliding around the track.
Thrusting its way onto the PS4, the Omega Collection is a PS4 Remaster of 2008’s Wipeout HD and its Fury expansion pack, along with the Vita’s criminally overlooked 2048. It’s a wealth of content that really showcases the strengths of the franchise. Remastered in 4k (on PS4 Pro), running at a fluid 60 frames per second, it feels like the same Wipeout that you’ve always known, brought firmly into the century it’s set in. Tracks feel (and look) fantastic, and the sense of speed is something that’s rarely been achieved to this day in gaming.
Structurally, the game is pretty standard. You compete in a number of different races to gain medals, all the while earning “loyalty points” by racing for the same teams over and over, leading to customisation options throughout the game. The races themselves are fast paced and brutal, with weapon pickups strewn across the track, as well as those ever-crucial boost pads. I’ll happily admit that despite me playing the franchise for close to 20 years (I was 9 when the original came out!) I’m still terrible at Wipeout, and to this day I’ve still not mastered many of the elements that would allow me to breeze to victory in the top difficulty, let alone hold my own online. Taking a battering in some of the more tricky courses is a blessing in disguise for me really, as all it means is I get to repeat the process again and again.
One thing that is new this time round though is the “Race Box”. This basically allows you to freely choose any of the 26 tracks from HD, Fury or 2048 (either normally or in reverse!) and compete in any of the game modes available. It is a fantastic way to dip in and out of the game as and when you feel like, and it can sometimes throw up a gem of a track that you’ve forgotten all about. Another new feature, as is the way with most games now, is a stunning photo mode. The ability to tweak things such as depth of field, focus points, and motion blur amongst others is a great way to ensure that the eye-poppingly gorgeous visuals have the best possible platform to be shown off. Nudging the camera another couple of degrees clockwise to get a better shot than you had before is sometimes just as engrossing as the race you’ve just come out of!
One thing that definitely shines in this collection is the multiplayer. Either with a split-screen option that will rekindle more nostalgic memories than watching Jools Holland on New Year’s Eve, or with the online modes, the Omega Collection will have you frantically throwing your craft around the tight high speed raceways and cursing at your cat as you trundle across the line in last place yet again. Everything maintains a rock solid 60fps, which is all the more impressive when you consider that it also runs in 4k on the Pro (I’ve not got a 4k set to test this, but I’ve been reliably informed that it looks absolutely spectacular and doesn’t drop a frame anywhere).
Of course, Wipeout would be nowhere without its achingly hip soundtrack. The Omega Collection fuses a bunch of classic tracks with some new ones to create a list of tracks that feels right at home in 2017, without pandering to the nostalgia crowd too much, nor feeling like it’s going to be very dated very quickly by going on the bleeding-edge of new music. The Prodigy and Swedish House Mafia join Wipeout staples such as The Chemical Brothers, all the while sounding like the music was made specifically for the game. It’s not the kind of music I’d listen to on a daily commute, but throw it into this setting and I’m completely sold.
Honestly, it’s really hard to review a game like the Wipeout Omega Collection. It’s a collection of two fantastic games from old platforms (and one expansion pack), all thrown in with stunning visual makeovers and a soundtrack that will make you want to pull on a neon vest with a happy face drawn on it and set up a sound system in a field somewhere & dance until next weekend (Don’t do that, it’s illegal). Seriously though, this is the best that Wipeout has ever been, and you’d be a fool to miss it if you’ve not experienced it before. For £25, it’s hard not to recommend.