Back in the day I was fast on the side of one of the biggest schoolboy debates there was: F-Zero or Wipeout. For three console generations Nintendo delivered fantastic hovercar gameplay, culminating in the almost perfect F-Zero GX. It was so good in fact, that the famous Shigeru Miyamoto explained there would be no successor until they could find something new to add to the game.
Yet despite Nintendo’s insistence that the genre was essentially solved, Wipeout continued to tinker with the formula. But it too has been silent for many years now with the closure of series developer Studio Liverpool, and in its place have come a number of independently-developed games, from Fast Racing RMX to Redout, Formula Fusion and original Wipeout clone BallisticNG. Fans are clearly nostalgic for these games, and it seems that Sony has heard and listened.
Remastered by Clever Beans you are given three games to choose from: Wipeout HD (originally on the PS3), Wipeout 2048 (originally on the PS Vita) and Wipeout Blitz (originally on the PS X). There’s lots of Wipeout. The three games are relatively integrated with no loading in between selecting them, so it is quick and easy to switch between each of them as the mood takes you.
This is a full remake, not just an upscaled HD port, leading to true 4K and a very smooth 60FPS experience on PS4 Pro. Lighting has been vastly improved, textures and models have been completely revamped, and performance is exceptional. While for a PS Vita game Wipeout 2048 looked exceptional at release, the additional power of the PS4 has been used to brilliant effect, including a doubling of the performance to 60FPS. It looks like a game developed natively for the console, and in general is one of the best looking games available for the system. Track layout seems exactly the same, but the huge change in resolution, textures and lighting change the experience of actually driving on the tracks, always for the better.
In terms of gameplay nothing much has changed. Beyond the tracks, weaponry, ship characteristics and handling all remain the same. But as a remake, Wipeout Omega Collection reminds us of all the improvements made to the genre since when the games first came out. This is the danger of a remaster of games significantly iterated on in the intervening years since the original release. It’s a double-edged sword: any changes to the original core gameplay would be looked down on as meddling in a past classic, but leaving the games as is leaves the remaster feeling a little dated. Any extra changes would also mean a longer development cycle and most likely a higher retail price. That said, in absolute terms, these games hold up extremely well, and are still excellent to play.
One thing they haven’t changed though is the excellent soundtrack that stands up today as one of the best in video game history. The soundtrack was always one of the best parts of the game, it ties the package together, giving it the drive and urgency that makes these games simultaneously stressful and exhilarating.
For those without a history with the franchise this collection can feel a little confronting. There’s no tutorial or onboarding of any kind. Some sort of introduction to the game would have been beneficial for people unfamiliar with how the games work, or those who simply haven’t played in the many years since the last release. The controls are relatively intuitive, but understanding what the pads mean and how the weaponry and each race type works would make the experience much friendlier to new Wipeout gamers.
The Wipeout Omega Collection is remasters at their best. It takes excellent games and only makes them better. With significantly improved visuals and rock-solid performance, it introduces these three excellent games to a new generation of console, and by extension, gamer at an extremely reasonable price tag to boot. It’s really hard to fault anything in this collection. While the games themselves feel a little dated compared to newer additions to the genre, they remain in many respects the benchmark for hover racing. Now it’s your turn Nintendo, I can only dream of a F-Zero remake with this collection’s level of care, attention and quality.
Released: June 2017
Platforms: PlayStation 4
Genre: Racing, Action
Publisher: Sony PlayStation</p