When the original PlayStation console launched in the 90’s it was truly a game changing event for video games. Like the console itself, many games were born and all shared one perfect factor…being iconic. One of those series changed the way racing games were seen, shifting the experience to be more than who had the fastest car and who came in first. Wipeout changed so much for so many people and was a series that is threaded throughout the history of the PlayStation console and became such an integral part of the PlayStation generation that you can ask anyone who owned a PlayStation to name their top racer and more often then not the one answer given by all will be WipeOut. Twenty two years since the series launched and finally this legendary series makes its way onto PlayStation 4 and PS4 Pro with Wipeout: Omega Collection and once again claims its title of king of the racers.
Wipeout: Omega Collection takes the three most recent entries in the series, HD and Fury from the PlayStation 3 and 2048 from the PS Vita and rebuilds them for the PlayStation 4 with PS4 Pro support. Moving to 60FPS and full 1080p resolution has enhanced these games like never before. But what it really means when you bring all this together is a compilation that serves as both a celebration of everything that made Wipeout so crucial to the success of the PlayStation brand but also a reminder of just what was started back in 1995 and that now, today in 2017, the gameplay and blend of stunning visuals and soundtrack, there is still nothing quite like Wipeout.
We live in a generation where the focus is on providing the most realistic racing games ever, with authentic driving features and recreated cars for players to race. Wipeout is all about futuristic racing and is built on the foundation of great racing complimented by a soundtrack of bass thumping tunes to help drive the feeling of speed to new heights. For me personally, there has never been another racing game series that comes close to providing the same arcade adrenalin action that Wipeout has and though it has been over five years since Wipeout was last seen, the work done to bring this series up to date is staggeringly good.
Visuals have never looked better and the tracks and their settings are mind blowing to see on screen. The tracks are incredible, designed for a challenging but satisfying test of reflexes and reactions throughout all three games that feature. The speed of the racing is so quick it really is hard to take in the background sometimes but with the focus on the tracks themselves, the visuals delights continue. The variety in the track design is simply delicious. From the twists and turns to verticality and long drops, the tracks are exhilarating to race on and though there can be frustrating tracks that prove more than just a little difficult at first, that moment you conquer the track is so rewarding that it perfectly shows why Wipeout is so amazing.
The soundtrack and music that takes Wipeout to a whole new level is back once again and compliments the action on screen so naturally that they really go hand in hand. Back in 1995 the soundtrack was so good I would just leave the game on the pause menu just to listen to it, and just as the visuals have been enhanced, having the soundtrack and audio sounding as great as they do helps recreate that nostalgia perfectly. Put on a headset and the soundtrack really becomes such a key component to the gameplay as each time you start a race the musical track will change, even if you restart the same race you will get a different tune to accompany you. There is a real almost zen moment when the gameplay and the music come together so fluidly and you are doing well or winning that Wipeout: Omega Collection becomes more than just a game you are playing, it becomes a fulfilling experience that connects today all the way back to the first time I played Wipeout in 1995. The Visuals have been enhanced and the sound more pounding then ever, but the gameplay has remained relatively untouched which is a testament to just how good it is.
That gameplay is as varied as the tracks themselves with different racing mode from straight racing to speed trials, Eliminator combat races and endurance races called Zone races. Each of the three titles; 2048, HD and Fury have variations of these modes but for me the remastered of the PS Vita 2048 title is the highlight of this compilation. Every race is challenging not just because of the track designs but because the AI is determined to win which makes every race a true racing experience. AI will smack you into walls if you are in the way and use every shortcut available to get an advantage. This will push players to get better, to learn and study the track in order to get those same shortcuts and because of the AI, makes the player a far better racer as a result. There will be a minimum placing in order to pass the track and open the next stage and gaining 1st will give you an Elite Pass status. Progressing will unlock new vehicles and racing teams to use through the modes and then online. This game kicked my butt but was so worth it when I finally won that tricky race, satisfaction is rewarding with Wipeout as it always has been.
The online features all three games where players can either join another player’s lobby or create and host one of their own. The lobby can be set up to determine number of laps, the race mode, vehicle class and which game to feature and the action can be fast and frantic online. I did find an imbalance at times with some players simply having far better vehicles to use after unlocking them compared to lower levelled players making it an mismatch more often than not, which is a shame but if you can get a few friends together and host private games, it becomes something very memorable and fun.
This has to be one of the finest remastered collections on the PS4 right now, even more so thanks to the PS4 Pro enhancements pushing the visuals even further. Remastered games can bring back the nostalgia feeling of the original so much so that it alone would make it worth purchasing the remastered game. Wipeout: Omega Collection is as much a celebration of the series as it is an attempt to re-launch the brand for a modern generation and it does that incredibly well. It recaptures and showcases every element that made Wipeout so iconic and a success for PlayStation when it began as a gaming platform in the 90s, and though over the decades it became a mobile game for the PS Vita, this has shown that there is still an audience for the main consoles hungry for its epic racing and music.
Back on the main stage and at a very reasonable pricing for this compilation, WipeOut: Omega Collection is a must for all PS4 owners and racing fans and for those who remember the magic of this series from twenty years ago, a chance to remember why the game was truly was as groundbreaking back then as it is now.