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March 2005



- Brilliant graphics

- Unparalleled sense of speed

- The Zone mode is like digital crack



- Really not much to complain about other than cramps associated with driving with the analog “stick”



Review: Ridge Racer (PSP)

Review: ATV Offroad Fury Blazin' Trails (PSP)

Interview: Wipeout Pure Post Mortem Q&A



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Wipeout Pure

Score: 9.1 / 10


The latest Wipeout game is the first for a hand-held system.  That isn't surprising considering how much of the series' reputation has been built on graphics, music and sense of speed – three elements previous hand-helds haven't exactly been known for.  But the PSP isn't your daddy's hand-held system and Wipeout Pure comes onto the scene as not only the best-looking game in the series but the best game overall.  After a couple of disappointing releases, the Wipeout series really returns to form with Pure.


wipeout pure review          wipeout pure review


Anyone familiar with the earlier games in the series will be comfortable with Pure's gameplay and control scheme.  The basic idea is to hop on a super-fast sled and whip around futuristic tracks at insane speeds gathering power-ups to blast opponents and aiming for on-track boost points.  This is handled by using either the analog nub or the d-pad to control the anti-grav sled.  The shoulder buttons are used to give an extra bit of slide in the curves while two face buttons are used for acceleration and power-up activation.  The controls are tight and responsive, regardless of which control set-up is used.  The PSP is relatively perfectly sized for my hands, so I felt comfortable through tens of hours of game play, but the constant use of the shoulder buttons and the analog stick might cause some cramps among gamers with large paws.


Graphically, as I've said, Pure is the best looking Wipeout game yet.  It joins Ridge Racer as a hand-held incarnation that bests all the console versions that predate it, but Pure ups the ante a bit more as it is the best looking game yet released for the PSP.  The game has every graphical trick we've come to expect from a next generation machine and it runs at a constant (and fast) framerate.  The lighting and particle effects are just jaw-dropping for a hand-held and the overall impact is 




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simply impressive.  The graphics combine with the frame-rate to impart a sense of speed that is undeniable.


The game features sixteen tracks, four of which are familiar courses from past games.  The tracks get increasingly more complex as the game goes along and this, along with a gradual increase in A.I. aggressiveness, makes for a game that continues to challenge from the beginning to completion.  


That said, the earlier, Vector Class races provide little challenge, though they are fine the first time around as the controls are being mastered.  Otherwise, the true challenge doesn't kick in until the later Classes or in some of the alternative modes.


wipeout pure review          wipeout pure review


Speaking of modes, Pure features single-player, single race; single-player, tournament; time trial; free play, and, the neatest mode, Zone.  It also offers multi-player ad hoc network play, but no infrastructure online mode in North America. Of all of these, the Zone mode is the coolest and most original.  The Zone mode is like a time trial mode on acid.  Players zoom along a Tron-like VR version of the tracks going constantly faster and faster with the only goal being to stay alive to get to one more zone.  Bonus points are given for driving without hitting walls.  It is simple, but it is the most addictive thing on the PSP outside of Lumines.


The Wipeout series has always gotten a lot of attention for its music.  Pure features a familiar techno soundtrack with 18 CD-quality tunes from major techno artists and up-and-comers on Sony's many labels.  I pretty much only like techno when it is accompanying futuristic videogames, but I found myself enjoying the tunes here.


Of all the launch games, Wipeout Pure has gotten the most glowing reviews and I think it deserves the attention.  It is the most impressive game to use to show off the PSP's power, but it is also very, very fast and fun.


- Danny Webb

(June 7, 2005)


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