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Jeremy Jastrzab
25 Jan, 2008

WipEout Pulse Review

PSP Review | Pulsating.
It’s been nearly three years since a Sony system saw a WipEout release. WipEout Pure came out at the launch of the PSP and it managed to very successfully revive a classic but dwindling Sony franchise. You could almost argue that quality of the title is partially responsible for the copious number of racing games that have come to the system since. Either way, WipEout Pure was great, and now Sony are back with WipEout Pulse.

While it's common knowledge that there's no shortage of racers on the PSP, WipEout Pure stood above most not only as a futuristic racer but as one of the better titles available. So it’s probably a good thing that WipEout Pulse doesn’t do much to fiddle with the formula. At its core, it’s identical to its predecessor. There are a few additions, though a lot of them are concerned with playing online. Given this, why are we still able to give such a wholehearted recommendation?

WipEout Pulse, just like every its predecessor and games before it, has a masterfully intuitive learning curve. Sure, it starts off a little rough, and the first couple of races will have you struggling to finish above last. But it’s a game that quickly allows the player to accommodate for the controls and gameplay nuances. Soon enough, you’ll be zipping around the windy tracks with full confidence of being able to handle them. That is, until you go up a class.

Right. Right! RIGHT!

Right. Right! RIGHT!
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You’ll start on the slowest of four classes. If you decide that you had enough of the slowest class, you can always jump up a class or three. By spending enough time in a class, you’ll likely have enough experience to tackle the next class. However, jumping too far will lead to quite a shock. The game gives the player to incentive to play the game as it’s meant to be played. By slowly but surely making their way through each class and training themselves in the ways of WipEout.

The single player mode in WipEout Pulse is divided into four different sections. Each of these sections contains a grid of different events. You need to play through each of the events and do well, in order to unlock medals and points, which in turn unlock later sections. Events include races, time trails, the ‘Zone’ mode and a new addition, elimination. You’ll initially have two or three events unlocked, and if you manage to beat the event with at least a bronze medal (for example, finish third in a race), you’ll unlock events surrounding that point on the grid.

However, only by winning gold medals will you get enough points to advance to the next section. And it’s within this action that allows for the game to have great learning curve. If you do persevere at the first section, by going after each gold on offer, you’ll likely be rewarded with a much politer entry into the next class. That is, you’ll be better equipped to handle the step up. Furthermore, the single player mode is well structured for portable play.

As mentioned, the core gameplay is fundamentally the same to the previous WipEout titles. While initially the action may read 600km/h, it isn’t until you reach the higher speed classes that you really feel like you’re zipping around in a futuristic vehicle in break-neck speeds. Whilst avoiding corners and hairpin turns in your (at times fragile) vehicle, you’ll often have seven other racers to contend with. Not only are these non-humans super competitive, they’ll have no qualms making with making life hell for you with cunning weapon use and blatantly unsporting tactics.

In the zone. Literally.

In the zone. Literally.
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WipEout Pulse doesn’t forget to include the precursory weapons that have occupied all WipEout titles so far. These include rockets, homing missiles, speed boosts and a massive wave that severally damages any vehicle in front of you. However, there is a bit of a tactical twist with the use of power-ups. You can either use them to (potentially) advance your position, or to absorb them and heal your ship if you’re in a bit of strife.

Players will also be able to make their own grids, and stack them as they please. They will also be able to customise their ships. The game even contains a photo mode that lets you take pictures from the race you've just competed in. This time around, WipEout Pulse supports multiplayer both across ad-hoc and infrastructure connections. Each mode will support up to eight racers, and players are able to upload their custom grids and ghosts, for other players to use or go up against.

WipEout Pure was very rewarding for those who stuck with it. The reason for this is that the game was constantly supported with downloadable content, including new tracks and vehicles. Well, WipEout Pulse is no different. Even before the worldwide release, there is content that is available for players to download. Since the cycles between WipEout games seem to be quite lengthy, the downloadable content is a certainly a good way to reward the dedicated players.

Throughout the review, we’ve compared how similar WipEout Pulse is to its predecessor. We’ve also mentioned through out, that this is a good thing. However, we spent a lot of time with WipEout Pure, and for the experience to be so similar, it doesn’t sit with us as nicely as we would’ve liked. Still, it’s nowhere near as bad as the Ridge Racer vs Ridge Racer 2, where the two were almost literally the same game. Just be warned, if you’re expecting a massive improvement or change, you’re not going to find it. Otherwise, if you’re someone who really didn’t ever like WipEout, then there’s nothing here to change your mind.

We're... flying?

We're... flying?
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We’re not sure if it’s one of the first titles to utilise the unlocked clock speed for the PSP or just some excellent use of the technology, but the visual results for WipEout Pulse are nothing short of spectacular. The game transcends its predecessor in just about every detail. It retains the familiar WipEout style, with all the speed and intricacy that you’d come to expect from the series. The most pleasing aspect is that the game runs smoothly and is one of the most visually pleasing titles on the PSP.

Apart from some precursory crunches and shatters that you’ll associate with hitting a wall or being hit by a rocket, WipEout Pulse is mainly about the music. Techno music that is. Again, players are treated (or tortured?) with a variety of techno-themed tunes, though for some reason, we personally preferred the selections from the original PSP game. However, the original game didn’t let you listen to anything other then techno, whereas WipEout Pulse allows you to play your own tracks. So, it’s a win for everyone!

WipEout Pulse is definitely a fine racer and sits near the top of the tree, even though the genre is incredibly crowded on the PSP. So while it doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary (well, in comparison to the rest of the series), it delivers what it needs to and does with distinction. It's marginally a better game than the original, but it doesn't have the advantage of being the series' return to form. Still, if you're a WipEout fan or someone who's after an adrenaline and challenge packed racer, then WipEout Pulse astutely fits the bill.
The Score
WipEout Pulse is fast, furious and one heck of good racer for the crowded PSP market.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related WipEout Pulse Content

Wipeout Pulse demo released
18 Dec, 2007 Ready, set...
WipEout Pulse Preview
10 Nov, 2007 We go hands-on with the latest iteration of Sony's futuristic racer.
WipEout Pulse teaser trailer revealed
22 Apr, 2007 Download it here now.
2 Comments
6 years ago
Do get, spent countless hours already with this. The premier racing game on a handheld.
6 years ago
Jeremy wrote
Well, WipEout Pulse is no different. Even before the worldwide release, there is content that is available for players to download.
To date, there arent any Downloadable Packs available for Pure as of yet, unless you refer to content that people can download to their PCs such as wallpaper and the like.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  13/12/2007 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $59.95 AU
Publisher:
  Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre:
  Racing
Year Made:
  2007
Players:
  8

Read more...
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