What with, y’know, being a Nintendo game and all, Sony never had F-Zero. This futuretastic racer from 1990 was a sad loss for the followers of PlayStation, awesome as it was. But they needn’t have feared.
While PS1 missed out on the game and its homoerotic hero Captain Falcon (man, that’s a tight jumpsuit), it did get Wipeout. A launch title for the system, it brought high-velocity gravity defying badassery into 3D. And it did it in style. Let’s take a look.
Wipeout is set in the year 2052, as distant as the last Ice Age when it was released in 1995. We were just learning to handle the Internet and Star Trek Voyager back then; the world was a befuddling place. How the hell could our feeble minds accept the F3600 anti-gravity racing league?
Well, accept it, buddy boy, because you’re competing. In Wipeout, you choose a craft to pilot in the contests and race these other futuristic effers, while The Chemical Brothers and Leftfield (whoever the hell they are) get their techno on in the background. Exciting times indeed.
As with F-Zero, said races are goddamn fast. They’re set in fancy-ass locales with names like Karbonis, Terramax and Altima VII, one of which is apparently in Japan somehow. The tracks are all rather sexy (in a gonad-dissolvingly-ugly-but-great-for-the-time-early-3D sort of way), and they’re a pleasure to barrel through at several hundred mph.
Wipeout’s soundtrack is also noteworthy. Did I mention the freaking Chemical Brothers? Sure, that wasn’t much of a name to drop in the mid-nineties, but let’s not get too snarky about that. It’s all suitably high-octane and techno, and you couldn’t ask for more than that. This is another part of the package that added to the all-round high production values of the game.
Presentation aside, there’s one aspect of Wipeout that I find most memorable. It adds a kart racer-ish element to proceedings with power-ups. And these ones are pretty freaking sadistic, right here. You’ve got the usual forcefields to protect you from rivals’ attacks and such, but there are also missiles that can destroy them competely.
My first experience with the series was Wipeout 3, and I think I shat myself a little the first time I hit a racer with the plasma bolt and their ship was destroyed; my ranking changing from 12th place out of 12 to 11th place out of 11. What the hell kind of racing tournament is this? It’s not Saw, you sadistic bastards. Saw on Wheels, I like to call it. They’re not wheels, per se, but… oh, screw it. On to the conclusion.
Wipeout was big, brash and fast. Definitely a real spectacle in the early PlayStation years. There was a little niggling about difficulty and the controls, but otherwise it was very well received.