There’s something about hearing those opening moments of The Prodigy’s ‘Firestarter’ that will always remind us of WipEout, sitting in the grid on one of the most popular tracks, Altima VII. There was always something inspirational about a game using a soundtrack that featured club anthems like Leftfield, The Chemical Brothers and Orbital and its always stuck with us. It was a racing game intended to be edgier and more mature than its arcade rivals and we’ve missed it.
Since the days of WipEout on the original PlayStation back in 1995, interest in the WipEout series has waned somewhat thanks to lacklustre sequels. There were the glory years of the 2008 PS3 release WipEout HD and its DLC Fury and of course, WipEout 2048 on the PS Vita in 2012, but nothing has quite managed to top that original PS One entry.
Until now. Sony has done all the ravers of the 1990s justice by releasing the WipEout Omega Collection, which bundles together wonderfully remastered versions of WipEout HD, Fury and WipEout 2048 for the PS4. And playing it, you’d barely know that this was originally released on the PS One and made its mark on a PSP generation. It’s a sparkling gem of nostalgia buffed to diamond standards.
Anti-grav racing with heart-pounding adrenaline
The WipEout Omega Collection is one of the best ads for the PS4 Pro we’ve seen. It looks fantastic on the normal PS4 or the PS4 Slim, but this is a dazzling showcase for the PS4 Pro. The collection comes with support for dynamic 4K resolutions, with textures remade, new levels of detail especially when it comes to ship scratches and the track surfaces as they move from translucent futuristic planes to concrete and grass.
But despite the glossy sheen, the game loses nothing of its original charm. The twists and turns of the punishing tracks, the thumping music, the ways the tracks evolve with the different games, adding in alternate routes and different track styles thanks to the difference in time settings between titles. It’s everything anyone who loved WipEout hoped it would be visually and more.
And the range of tracks is just about enough in our opinion, especially when you consider that you’ve got the variety of three different games featuring nine game modes, over 26 tracks and 46 ships that you unlock as you progress through the career modes.
The break-neck speeds that you can get up to will leave you feeling like you’ve got to memorise the tracks as you race them, leaning into the curves with the air brakes on the triggers rather than daring to lose any of the speed in fear of letting those on your tail overtake. There’s nothing quite like the pulse-racing adrenaline that you get from playing WipEout on some of the faster tracks, mistiming one corner and seeing yourself slip from first to eighth in milliseconds and then managing to claw it back again with a well-timed and executed barrel roll.
More than enough WipEout for some serious sessions
In fact, those coming into WipEout for the first time on PS4 are in for a real treat. This anti-gravity racer is quite unlike any others in the genre – always has, and always will be. The gameplay is a brilliant mix of intense high-speed racing like lapped races or time trials, and actual battle and combat events. One race may see you aiming for first place in a pack of eight competitors, while the next will see you armed to the teeth with offensive and defensive weapons like rockets and missiles and bombs, shields and bouts of autopilot.
Regularly, actual racing will be way down your list of priorities in favour of causing as much damage as you can to your opponents. The commentators will alert you to the incoming plasma, mines and leech beams, and sometimes it can be quite the frenzy of announcements and dodging.
And it can also take a while to master the manoeuvrability of the ships, learning the pros and cons of each one depending on the event you’re heading into. It’s as impulsive an experience as it was in the 90s as it is today. WipEout is wearing nostalgia well.
The only thing we think is missing from WipEout Omega Collection is virtual reality support. Apparently, the studio trialled it in the early development stages but decided to scrap it in favour of player comfort. But with games like Thumper and Rez Infinite proving that fast-paced done well in VR makes for some of the most memorable and successful virtual reality titles, we’re a little disappointed to see support missing from this remaster.
Perhaps with future titles, we could see virtual reality becoming a feature, with this entry instead focusing on rekindling the WipEout fanbase.
Is the WipEout Omega Collection good?
With the PS4 coming up to its fourth birthday this year, it almost feels like we’ve been waiting for a slice of WipEout that we thought would never arrive. But the WipEout Omega Collection is a more than fitting PS4 entry for the series., bringing back all the racing series with all its glory intact and a fresh lick of 4K paint to boot.
It’s one of the best remasters we’ve seen and it’s good to be back in the WipEout driving seat – even if it’s not always in pole position.
WipEout Omega Collection is available June 6 in the US and June 7 in Europe, exclusively on PS4 (with PS4 Pro 4K support).