I was never a particularly huge fan of the WipeOut series throughout it’s fairly long running history on the PlayStation consoles. Fun as the games were, they always felt a bit too generically arcadey without much substance to keep me hooked.
As such, Wipeout the Omega Collection would never have been on my radar had it not been for the VR update that was patched into the game a short while after it’s initial release on PS4.
Being a fairly recent adopter of PSVR, I thought I’d park my indifference and give it a shot. And boy – Wipeout is definitely something else in VR.
For the uninitiated, Wipeout is a futuristic arcade combat racer, where players pilot ultra high speed hover ships along a variety of neon courses as they ostentatiously twist, weave and loop towards the checkered flag. You participate in a variety of race types while the techno thumps away, adding an additional shot of adrenaline to an already white-knuckled experience.
In combat focused races, players can collect one-shot powerups that they can use either offensively or defensively to give themselves an advantage. The premise is simple, but it all works well.
The Omega Collection is an anthology of sorts, bundling 3 full games as independent campaigns into one slick package, all accessible from the Home Menu – thus providing an exhaustive amount of content for you to peel your way through. Bang for your buck this certainly is.
I didn’t bother with the game outside of VR. Once the headset was on, it became immediately evident that this was a mandatory way to play to the game for VR owners.
Even the Menus look stunning, hovering in front of clinically white and crisp “block mesh” environments, set to the sound of techno music and the esoteric warbling of hover ship engines as they whiz past. Definitely a striking introduction in VR and 360 audio.
I strapped in for my first race. Loading. A little nervous, a little giddy. Then the grid lit up and the scale of the environment was staggering. It’s one thing to stare through a window into this world, it’s another thing to be enveloped in it. The conceit of scale was quite remarkable and the sense of immersion palpable. I just sat there, admiring the view for a solid minute before activating the start timer.
3-2-1. I hit the gas, and was so unprepared for the level of precision and speed I’d experience, I over corrected on the first bend and ploughed straight into the embankment.
It’s interesting that outside of VR, you become accustomed to not having a realistic sense of depth and therefore compensating accordingly. You have to play differently in VR.
The controls are simple. X is throttle, with the left and right triggers providing left and right “air brakes” to manoeuver through corners. The square button activates weapons and perks you collect via power-up “pads” placed along the course.
VR famously has a pretty ubiquitous relationship with motion sickness, so one would assume that of any game, Wipeout would almost certainly be the one to make you lose your lunch. But there are a huge variety of comfort options set from the Main Menu that help mitigate this, such as being able to keep the cockpit of your racer parallel to the track, or rendering visors to the cockpit windows in your periphery, essentially narrowing your field of view.
All this meant that once I had found my “VR legs” after the first few races – I was able to play extended sessions without any discomfort. Quite the achievement for a racer that is famous for it’s insane dynamics.
Wipeout in VR has surprisingly sharp visuals for Sony’s budget-end headset, particularly the latest two game remasters in the Collection, with some quite stunning lighting and post effects on display. Some of the weapon particles are gorgeous, and when there’s a lot of action happening at certain choke-points during races, it’s like you’re trapped in a fireworks factory accident.
So I played through a variety of racetypes through all campaigns, and had enormous amounts of fun doing so. Wipeout has found a new fan in me, thanks to the Omega Collection and the marvel of VR. For anyone that has, or is thinking about getting a Playstation VR headset, definitely consider Wipeout Omega Collection for your VR games library.
If my word isn’t convincing enough, there’s a free demo on the PlayStation store that will do the trick.
Released: June 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4