WipEout Omega Collection
Clever Beans, EPOS Studios, Sony XDev
6 June 2017
Psygnosis/Studio Liverpool, the developers behind Wipeout, has certainly left a large legacy. The series, along with Nintendo’s F-Zero, cemented the idea of future racing. Instead racing cars, you race hovercraft-like ships along futuristic cityscapes and environments at blistering speeds.
While the closure of Studio Liverpool has resulted in sadness, and anger, for long-time Wipeout fans, Sony understands how important this franchise is. Sony External Development Studio (Sony XDev) recruited Clever Beans (a studio with some staff that previously worked on the Wipeout series) and EPOS Game Studios to make a remaster of two games: Wipeout HD (with the Fury DLC) and Wipeout 2048 into one collection for the PS4. The WipEout Omega Collection.
Turns out, it’s a well-made remaster that perfectly envision these games for HD and 4K screens.
Graphics & Sound
The recent games of Wipeout has been tied to Sony’s handheld consoles. Wipeout HD is based on content and gameplay seen in Wipeout Pure and Wipeout Pulse for the PSP and Wipeout 2048 was a European launch game for the PS Vita.
The two games available in the Omega Collection looks gorgeous as ever. This time around, all the content is run at a rock solid 60fps, no dips whatsoever as seen in HD. The imaginative tracks from two different timelines- an advanced future where tracks are purposely build in exotic locations in HD and the grimy tracks that flow with more current roads and buildings of 2048- are a sight to behold.
But usually there’s no time for that as you will be flying through the course in ridiculous speeds. Only in Wipeout you can experience 400km/h speed and feel it to be pretty slow. Thankfully, the Omega Collection features a a decent photo mode so you can pause at any time and take some dramatic screenshots from the races. Though the camera is a bit fiddly to control.
(WipEout Omega Collection can also run at native 4K on the PS4 Pro when motion blur is disabled. I did not personally test this, but check out what the folks at Digital Foundry has to say about the PS4 Pro support.)
The whole UI and presentation is a standard affair for Wipeout. Slick, minimalist menus. The Omega Collection doesn’t split the two games outright like most remasters. Instead both games are integrated into one menu, which can cause a bit of confusion should you step in the game without prior knowledge that HD and 2048 are two different games (and Fury is an expansion to HD). The strong advantage is that you can switch games on the fly with ease.
The soundtrack for the Omega Collection is a nice selection of EDM. The series has been synonymous with techno songs as it just goes well with the rest of the aesthetics. 28 different songs are included, featuring familiar names such as The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy. It’s a good mix of Drum and Bass and Club music. Should you prefer songs of the past games there’s an official Spotify playlist, but you’ll miss out on some nice sound design integrated into the in-game soundtracks.
The audio quality is great. The whizzing sounds of the ships as they overtake you, the nice fades of the soundtrack as you catch air or in critical damage, the announcers for weapon pickups that are unique to each team, all are presented nicely. If you have decent headphones or a nice audio system, prepare for an auditory blast. One issue I found is that sometimes the weapon pickups or weapon alerts (when someone else is using it) sometimes don’t kick in immediately, so audio cues may not be entirely reliable.
WipEout Omega Collection is remaster of Wipeout HD (and the Fury expansion) first released in 2008 and Wipeout 2048 in 2012. Both games plays similarly, but with several small differences still retained for each game.
Like any arcade racers of the 90’s, you press X rather than the triggers to accelerate. The triggers, L2 and R2 are reserved for airbrakes. Just tapping one of the airbrakes helps you manouver the courses filled with speed boost pads, weapon pads and the occasional jumps. Pressing both will be equivalent to pressing a normal brake, but in Wipeout that’s never necessary. Get the right racing lines by hitting all the speed pads and tapping the airbrakes during corners and you’ll be fine.
There are also advanced techniques such as doing a barrel roll (or technically, the Aileron roll) while in the air which eats up 15% of shields but if done successfully gives you a speed boost. There is also the sidestep by tapping one of the airbrakes twice.
In some races, there are weapons you can pickup to use against other racers. Hit them hard enough and they’ll be eliminated, and you can absorb some of the weapons to regain back lost shields to avoid being eliminated yourselves.
There are slight differences between the two games. For one the track designs are of different philosophies. Tracks in HD are more tighter while 2048 are much wider with more alternative routes (some are even harder than the normal route). Shields in 2048 automatically trigger when you are hit by a weapon. HD has only one kind of weapon pad where 2048 separates the weapon pads into two (offensive and defensive).
In HD, the ships’ stats depend on which team you use, the rest are cosmetic changes (though there is the Fury variant of each ship- a better version of the default ships). 2048 has less teams but each team has a different class of ship (fighter, speed, agility) geared for specific events, as well prototype ships that have totally unique abilities. 2048 and HD (and the modes introduced in Fury) all have different UIs.
The gameplay still holds up to this day. Mastering a course by hitting all the speed pads serves the same feeling as mastering a track in any racing game, the hectic battles when all the ships get access to weapons make the races more exciting. Though it’s hard to adjust bad habits picked up from playing too much Burnout- smashing into other racers is not a good strategy here. Either get weapons or sidestep the opposition to overtake.
There are four different ship classes which determines the average speed of the ships. If you feel that the C class in 2048 and Venom in HD is boring, then go and try the A+ and Super Phantom and be blown away. The game gets even more difficult (and interesting) as you progress through the three campaigns that slowly introduces to the faster classes. There’s also a Zone mode where you have to survive as long as possible as your ship gets faster and faster, rising through the speed classes and beyond.
Basically, you’ll need to get good and if you’re down with that, Wipeout is as fun as any other arcade racers out there. There’s enough depth worth learning, though should you feel intimidated there’s a pilot assist that helps you from colliding to walls for beginners.
Content & Longevity
With two games and an expansion included, WipEout Omega Collection is filled with content, just content that you already have seen before. For HD, you’ll be getting 8 tracks plus 4 from the Fury expansion- all with reverse configs. You’ll have 12 different teams to choose from each with their own look and history (including the Malaysian team Harimau) plus two returning teams designed exclusively for the remaster: Tigron and the pre-order exclusive Van Uber. Aside from the Fury variants which is unlocked at the start, the rest are cosmetic changes.
For 2048, there’s five teams with four different ships. You will need to play through the campaign to unlock all the ships. There are 10 tracks for 2048 including Sol, the track that have you whizz around a skyscraper with little track barriers and the only track available at faster classes.
There are three campaign progressions: 2048, HD and Fury. While 2048 uses an XP system to unlock awards and a two tier objective for progression, HD and Fury use the traditional medal unlocks with three points for a gold medal to a one a point for bronze. The HD campaigns are mostly on races, tournament racers, speed lap (beat the target lap time) and time trial (beat the target time over a few laps) events. Fury is a bit more combat focused with Elimination (each weapon hit scores points, first to target score wins), Zone Battle (like Zone, but with other ships and a mechanic involving speed pads), and Detonator (like Zone, but you have to shoot mines that are spread on the track). 2048 has a mix of both combat and racing events.
I suggest not to just finish each game’s campaign in order, as it can get a bit samey. The HD campaign is stretched a bit too thin as you will see similar events a lot with little variation, though it could be argued it helps you be more familiar with each track and mode before they crank the difficulty up in the last stretch of the campaign. The Fury campaign offers more interesting modes, so dabble with that should you find the straight up races and time trials to be boring.
WipEout Omega Collection also supports online races. I am impressed that they decided to put servers for Asia, Japan and Australia but unfortunately, each time I hop online these servers are barren. Even the US servers are mostly empty. The core fanbase is mostly at Europe and joining their races means there will be some lag.
I can’t properly say how well their rebuilt online infrastructure is since there is not much of a community playing online in Asia. If you want to hop online, ask some friends to go buy this game as well and plan a time. Alternatively, the game supports two-player split-screen if you’re itching for multiplayer and there is a single-race mode should you have done with the campaign.
WipEout Omega Collection is a lovingly crafted remaster. If you want to see how capable the PS4 (and PS4 Pro) is at the right developers’ hands, WipEout Omega Collection will amaze you with its glorifying detail at a rock-solid 60fps. Wipeout is still fun today, even if takes some time and practice to master the faster speeds.
But if you already played Wipeout HD Fury and Wipeout 2048, there’s nothing new that’s worth checking out unless you want to play those games again. The online community doesn’t exist in Asia, so if you want to race online, either hop in the EU servers or encourage some friends to buy it.
For a remaster of two games at roughly half the price of a full game, it’s worth a purchase. More so if you never played Wipeout before but curious about the series. It’s the best time to jump in.
Review is based on version 1.02 of the game, played on a regular PS4. Review copy provided by the publisher.
Fantastic Visual Quality With Rock-Solid 60fps
Great Sound Design And Perfect Choice Of Soundtrack
Good Photo Mode Implementation
Tight And Responsive Controls
Fast Loading Times
No Substantial New Content
No Online Community In Asia
Campaign Missions Can Get Repetitive