The beginning… and the end?
- Available: Now
- Format: PS4
- Developer: Clever Beans
- Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Its been 22 years since the WipEout series introduced the world to futuristic, anti-grav combat racing, and whilst the series has arguably never topped 1996’s WipEout 2097, it’s remained the pinnacle of crisp, futuristic design and style. Original developers Psygnosis – who later become Sony’s Studio Liverpool – were shut down in 2012, and their final contribution to the series, Vita launch title 2048, forms a third of this Omega Collection, along with PS3 titles WipEout HD and Fury.
A compilation of a five-year old portable game and six / seven year old PS3 games might not sound like the ideal way to celebrate the arrival of the series on PS4, but Clever Beans has put in the work, and the 60fps, 4K HDR visuals (on PS4 Pro) move so slickly and swiftly you’d be hard pushed to spot the game’s previous-gen origins. Coupled with an updated soundtrack that features the likes of The Prodigy, Noisia, Swedish House Mafia and the Chemical Brothers, the Omega Collection looks and feels as ‘of the moment’ as any other WipEout title.
Racing in WipEout is suitably fast, with a palpable sense of speed. The antigrav ships handle with a loose, drifty feel, but timely applications of left and right air brakes can see them hurtling through 90-degree corners and snapbacks with ease. It feels sharp, but intuitive, something that many competing racers haven’t managed to achieve. The AI opponents are aggressive, thinking nothing of hammering you with weapon attacks or nudging you into a wall, and gently rubber-banded to ensure you never feel too left behind or too far ahead. The weapons are designed to keep you on your toes, and offer a range of offensive and defensive options without dominating the game. The 9 game modes available mix things up considerably, with everything from classic races to time trials, combat races, elimination and the ubiquitous Zone mode represented.
As a compilation, the Omega Collection offers a ton of content. 2048, HD and Fury were all pretty sizeable games in their own rights, and they’re neatly partitioned off into their own separate campaign modes here. Each has a distinct feel; 2048 is something of a series prequel, with a slightly grittier, rougher edge, whilst HD offers utopian cityscapes and skyways. Fury, meanwhile, leans heavily into the combat side of WipEout with a darker style that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Tron movie.
Sitting alongside these is a robust Racebox mode, which offers up the full selection of 26 tracks and 46 ships to choose from, and includes online and splitscreen multiplayer. The tracks are a wonderfully designed with their own challenges and distinctive characters; from the vertical drops of Metropia and Empire Climb, the urban sprawl of Capital Reach to the high-flying utopia of Sol 2 and the industrial underpinnings of Talon’s Junction and Subway. Frustratingly, you can’t mix and match between games – WipEout 2048 ships can only race on 2048 circuits, and HD / Fury ships on HD / Fury circuits – which feels like a missed opportunity, but it’s far from a deal breaker.
Sadly, none of the content is actually new, apart from the addition of a Tigron ship to WipEout HD. Whilst it’s great to be able to play the games – especially 2048, which struggled on the PS Vita – with overhauled visuals on a current console, it would have been nice if a couple of extra tracks could have been added or ported over from other WipEout titles as an additional incentive. Thankfully Clever Beans has managed to fix a few of the niggles from prior games, such as making the 2048 race select screen much clearer and adding Racebox for all 2048, HD and Fury tracks, though there are still a few oddities, and it would have been nice to have a more unified frontend for the whole package instead of separating each game’s campaign modes out.
These are minor niggles at best though, as the quality of the racing and the breadth of content speak for themselves. Packaged together for £29.99, the WipEout Omega Collection is an absolute steal.