Wipeout (video game)
European PlayStation cover art
|Designer(s)||The Designers Republic|
|Writer(s)||Nick Burcome, Damon Fairclough (manual)|
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 and is 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. A launch title for PlayStation in Europe and North America, Wipeout has been described as being synonymous with Sony's debut gaming hardware and as an early showcase for 3D graphics in console gaming.
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 was critically acclaimed upon release; who praised the game for its originality and its vast "unique techno soundtrack" however was criticised for its in-game physics, such as difficulty with manoeuvring the vehicles and its poor draw distance which was due to the early PlayStation's processing power. Despite the initial drawbacks and difficulties with the processing power of both the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn, Wipeout managed to spawn several sequels to critical acclaim.
Wipeout is a racing game that is set in the year 2052, where players compete in the F3600 anti-gravity racing league. The game allows the player to pilot 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 various weapons and power-ups such as shields, turbo boosts, mines, shock waves, rockets, or missiles. The power-ups allow the player to either protect their own craft or disrupt the competitors' craft.
There are seven race tracks in the game total, six of them located in futuristic versions of countries including Canada, Germany, Greenland, United States, China and Japan. A seventh, hidden track is set on Mars.
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. An early beta version of Wipeout appeared in the teen cult film Hackers, in which both protagonists were playing the game in a nightclub. Shortly after the film's release, Sony expressed some interest Psygnosis on the basis of their "impressive work it had done with 3D graphics". In September 1995 Sony Computer Entertainment purchased Psygnosis and later renamed SCE Studio Liverpool in 2000.
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 and released for the Amiga in 1994. 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 instrumental 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 gained a significant amount of controversy upon its initial release. A marketing campaign launched by The Designers Republic included an infamous promotional poster, featuring a bloodstained Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox, was accused by some of depicting a drug-overdose. The poster branded WipEout "a dangerous game", with Wipeout's designer Nick Burcome exceptionally suggesting that the 'E' in wipEout stood for ecstasy.
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 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.
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 both Wipeout and numerous successors.
Upon release, the game was critically acclaimed and received positive reviews and considerable praise from critics. IGN staff praised the game for its originality and unique techno soundtrack, but criticised the difficulty with manoeuvring the vehicles and also the difficulty of the game itself, stating that "there aren't nearly enough competitors" and that the player would have "[pulled] ahead of the other racers with no problem". Edge cited that it was hard to criticise "such a beautifully realised and well-produced game which [exploited] the PlayStation’s power so well", but did show similar concerns over the game's longevity regarding its "reliance on track-based power-ups" that would "limit Wipeout’s lifespan" in comparison to other racing games at the time such as F-Zero and Super Mario Kart.
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. The four reviewers from Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly praised the number and variety of tracks along with the strong challenge the game presented, and were much more approving of the graphics than Sega Saturn Magazine, describing them as "vibrant" and "gorgeous".
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- Video game
- European PlayStation edition at Discogs
- North American PlayStation edition at Discogs
- Sega Saturn edition at Discogs