Wipeout (video game)
European PlayStation cover art
|Designer(s)||The Designers Republic|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (for PlayStation via link cable)|
Wipeout (stylised as wipE'out") is a 1995 futuristic racing game developed and published by Psygnosis. It is the first game in the Wipeout series set in the year 2052. It was originally released in 1995 for PlayStation and PCs running MS-DOS, and in 1996 for Sega Saturn. It has since been re-released as a downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable via the PlayStation Network in 2007.
Set in the year 2052, players compete in the F3600 anti-gravity racing league, piloting one of a selection of craft in races on several different tracks around the world. Unique at the time, Wipeout was noted for its futuristic setting, weapons designed to both stall and destroy enemy opponents and its marketing campaign which was designed by The Designers Republic. The game featured music from CoLD SToRAGE, Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, and Orbital.
The game received generally favourable reviews from critics, who praised the game originality and vast "unique techno soundtrack" however was criticised for its in-game physics, such as difficulty with manoeuvring the vehicles and the game's "reliance on track-based power-ups" would "limit Wipeout’s lifespan". Despite the initial drawbacks and difficulties with the processing power of both the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, Wipeout managed to spawn several sequels.
Set in the year 2052, players compete in the F3600 anti-gravity racing league, piloting one of a selection of craft in races on several different tracks. There are four different racing teams to choose from, and two ships for each team. Each ship with its own distinct characteristics of acceleration, top speed, mass, and turning radius. By piloting their craft over power-up pads found on the tracks, the player can pick up shields, turbo boosts, mines, shock waves, rockets, or missiles, which protect the player's craft or disrupt the competitors' craft.
Development and release
Wipeout was developed and published by Liverpudlian developer Psygnosis (now known as SCE Studio Liverpool), which was designed in part by The Designers Republic in Sheffield. Aimed at a fashionable, club-going, music-buying audience, The Designers Republic created art for the game's packaging, in-game branding, and other promotional materials. Music tracks were licensed from non-mainstream electronica acts to create an original soundtrack album to promote the game.
The game's vehicle designs were based on Matrix Marauders, a 3D grid-based strategy game whose concept was developed by Psygnosis employee Jim Bowers. Nick Burcombe, the game's future designer, was inspired to create a racing game using the same types of vehicles from his experience with Powerdrome, F-Zero and Super Mario Kart. The name "Wipeout" was given to the game during a pub conversation, and was inspired by the eponymous song. Designing the game's tracks proved to be difficult due to the lack of draw distance possible on the system. However, the player received completely random weapons, resembling Mario Kart in their capability to stall rather than destroy opponents.
Wipeout was first released alongside the PlayStation in Europe in September 1995. It was the PlayStation's best-selling launch title in Europe. Two months later in November 1995, it was released in the United States. The game went to number one in the all format charts, with over 1.5 million units of the franchise having been sold to date throughout Europe and North America. Wipeout was later ported to the Sega Saturn in 1996, however because the company behind the PlayStation, Sony, owned the applicable rights to most of the PlayStation version's soundtrack, new music was recorded for the Saturn version by Psygnosis's in-house music team, CoLD SToRAGE.
In 1996, an OEM edition of Wipeout was bundled with new Sony Vaio laptops and the ATI 3D Xpression+ series video cards released for use in desktop computers. This 3D accelerated edition using the ATI3DCIF API provided additional resolutions of 400×300, 512×384 and 640×480 pixels as well as optional bilinear filtering. This version also made use of the 3D Rage's MPEG acceleration.
In 320×240 resolution the ATI version is graphically similar to the DOS version. However, when bilinear filtering is activated in 640×480, the ATI version demonstrates a considerable improvement in graphical appearance. Common PC systems in 1996 struggled to produce frame rates desirable for gameplay due to incapabilities of the ATI Rage IIc chipset in managing the task of powering Wipeouts 3D accelerated game engine. This can be observed in-game while using the Rage IIc and even the Pro series Cards on comparatively more modern PC systems that were produced in the early 2000s.
The game's electronica soundtrack was mostly composed by Welsh video game music composer Tim Wright under the alias CoLD SToRAGE. Additional songs featured in Wipeout are from Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers, and Orbital were included in the PAL version of the PlayStation game, while the Saturn version included three songs by Rob Lord & Mark Bandola.
A separately sold Official Soundtrack Album was released to promote the game in 1996. This music album featured a selection which contrasted against the music included within the game, with CoLD SToRAGE being the most notable omission given his prevalence within the game.
The game generally received positive reviews. IGN gave the PlayStation version an 8 out of 10, criticising the difficulty with manoeuvring the vehicles but praising the game's originality and unique techno soundtrack. Metacritic gave the game a score of 93 out of 100, citing that the "graphics are absolutely gorgeous, with some of the best light sourcing and effects ever". Edge gave the PlayStation version an 8 out of 10, saying that despite the game's "reliance on track-based power-ups" would "limit Wipeout’s lifespan", they stated that it is "hard to criticise such a beautifully realised and well-produced game which [exploited] the PlayStation’s power so well".
Reviewing the Saturn version, Sega Saturn Magazine praised the large number of tracks and the distinctive flavour of each one, and remarked that the gameplay is very easy to get into but provides more than enough challenge. They criticised it as not being as good as the PlayStation version, though they noted that none of the shortcomings impact the gameplay. They gave it a score of 92%. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the Saturn version a 7.125 out of 10, similarly praising the number and variety of tracks and the strong challenge, and were much more approving of the graphics than Sega Saturn Magazine, describing them as "vibrant" and "gorgeous".
- VGGEN.com News - WipEout Races to PSP via PS3
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- Discogs entry: European PlayStation edition
- Discogs entry: North American PlayStation edition
- Discogs entry: Sega Saturn edition