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WipeOut Fusion
Scheduled release date: TBA 2002
Publisher: SCEE
Developer: Studio Liverpool
Genre: Racing
Number Of Players: 1-2

Those of you in Europe reading this right now will soon be playing Wipeout. Many of you are probably laughing at the fact that this is a preview instead of a review. But then again, we still get just about everything else first (Metal Gear Solid 2, Final Fantasy X and etc). So laugh at that! Since the Wipeout series is handled by SCEE (Sony of Europe), it isnít any surprize that the Europeans get it first.

Wipeout began in 1995 on the PSX and was a surprising hit. The fun tracks, cool weapons and weird ships brought an innovative experience to gamers everywhere. Following the original Wipeout, WipeOut XL debuted, and is arguably the best in the series. Now, seven years later, Wipeout has been completed and is at the edge of a release on the Europe at least.

Fans of the series wonít have any problems adjusting to the controls, which are almost untouched from the previous installments. Like just about every other racer, the X button accelerates your craft. The brakes are executed with the L2 button. R2 blasts off those killer weapons. Triangle and L1 will control your camera views. L1 gives you a rear-view perspective while triangle scrolls through the other given angles.

One of the main reasons Wipeout was such a fun game was due to its great use of weapons. Thereís a multitude of weapons you can use to gun down and destroy fellow racers. Everything from flame-throwers to control jammers are just a button away. Additionally, each ship has itís own Ďspecialí weapon. Obviously, these weapons will dish out a lot more punishment than the regular weapons and are also more scarce. Weapons such as: lasers, super-missiles, and drones (to destroy the opposition), are examples of the Ďsuperí weapons found in Wipeout. The weapons will also play a big role in deciding first place from last place.

The graphics look very impressive, considering the pace they run at. The backgrounds are pretty clean and so are the rest of the tracks. Originally, there was a good amount of jaggies, which, thankfully, were touched up before the game's completion. The game runs at a very fast speed with a lot of on-screen happenings. There are no frame-drops to be found, despite the game's speed.

Aside from a few PS2 racers, a majority donít have enough replay to warrant a purchase; new or used. Fortunately, Wipeout features quite a bit to unlock and accomplish. Itís no Gran Turismo, but it will provide a good amount of play before itís entirely completed. Gameplay modes featured are: challenge, arcade, anti-gravity league, multiplayer, time trial and zone. However, the last two will not be selectable from the start of the game. There are also a few unlockable multiplayer modes. Other unlockable features are: additional characters, tracks, teams, cheats, and an art gallery.

The mode which unlocks goodies as you progress is challenge mode. In challenge, you can unlock various things by completing races and getting one of the 3 medals: Bronze, Silver, or Gold. Throughout the league you will also earn credits. Credits allow you to upgrade your ship--improving itís performance. 

A big plus is that Wipeout includes real-time damage and is also easily visible. This makes it even more important to shoot all the ammo you can get your hands on before the finishing line. Each ship will have a "shield" meter. Once this meter is demised completely, you lose! Two things will make your shield disappear. One of them, of course, being the weapons fired at you from the other racers. The second way to lose your shield meter is by ramming others or you getting rammed by them. 

Wipeout is packed with a slew of songs--some of them being remixes. Here are the tracks in alphabetical order:

  • Amethyst- Blue Funk
  • Blades and Naughty G- Beats Defective
  • Bob Brazil- Big Ten
  • Braniac- Neuro
  • BT- Smartbomb
  • Cut La Roc- Bassheads
  • Elite Force- Krushyn
  • Elite Foce & Nick Ryan- Switchback
  • Future Sound of London- Papua New Guinea
  • Hong Kong Trash- Down the River
  • Humanoid- Stakker Humanoid 2001
  • Intuative- Wave Seeker
  • JDS- Punk Funk
  • Luke Slater- Bolt up
  • MKL- Synthaesia
  • Nightmares on Max- Bleu My
  • Orbital- Funny Break
  • Plump DJs- Big Groover Funker
  • Time Maas- Old School Vibes
  • Utah Saints- Sick

I canít comment too much as far as the soundtrack. Seeing as how WipeOut XL had one of the best videogame soundtracks around, we can only hope that Studio Liverpool (formerly known as Psygnosis) has compiled a worthy soundtrack that pays homage to XL's.

Wipeout Fusion is definitely looking interesting and can be somewhat described as a "Twisted Metal: Black meets Star Wars: Starfighter." Sony has yet to announce a US release date for WipeOut Fusion, we expect one this Spring. The Euro release will come around this February.

1/5/2002   Joseph Comunale and SolidSnake