Let me cut the chit-chat and save you folks the opening "VH-1 behind the music" drama. We all know about WipeOut, and hell we know about WipeOut Fusion and its ever questionable status. Studio Liverpool has finally completed the game, and it was recently released in the PAL territories. I decided to import a copy for myself, and see what all the hub-bub was about. Upon beginning the game, I chose my craft and level. As soon as "go" flashed, I gunned it. I was doing fine, everything was smooth, that is until I began encountering the turns. I hadn't played a WipeOut game in so long, that I barely lasted 50 seconds in a race. In other words, I kept on blowing up. So, I decided to pop in a few codes, unlock the Time-Trial mode and practice my heart off (and no, I didn't save the cheat code). In less than 15 minutes I was hugging and caressing those turns like butter. In no time, I began placing 2nd and 1st in the races, and instantly WipeOut Fusion went from somewhat disappointing, to extremely exciting.
The AI, for one is really solid. While not every racer performs well, at least 6-8 will give you a hard time, as they are accurate with weapon use and aren't afraid to give you a little 'nudge' here and there, if you know what I mean. The game was an overall blast to play. The weaponry was diverse and the speed was all there. The track designs were great. Filled with loops, dives, splits, edgy turns and the whole nine. You'll feel the sense of speed as you beam down a dive exceeding the speed of light. There are many aircrafts to choose from, all with their unique status and team ownership. Each craft features one of two selectable drivers, male representative or female representative of the team. The game is heavy on replay value as it features many courses to choose from, in addition to secret air crafts and modes. So for those anticipating a US release, there's quite a lot to look forward to.
Visually, WipeOut Fusion is a great looker. It really has come a long way since its initial debut, which was who knows when. The only flaws are a somewhat inconsistent framerate, that tends to drop to 30 when your aircraft takes a sharp turn, and a slight aliasing issue with the near backgrounds. Despite that, Fusion is a wonderful looking game, complete with a deep color-palette, and a lot of attention to detail. The air-crafts are well built, and are made up of a substantial amount of polygons. They animate smoothly, and don't show a single sign off being half-assed. Fusion has eye-candy, and of course being a sci-fi racer, it wouldn't be complete otherwise. Environmental detail such as clouds, mist, weather effects, and etc. are intricately detailed, and add to an already beaming package.
WipeOut Fusion's US release is late June, in the meantime enjoy the screenshots, and stay posted for many more to come, as my progress continues. Over and out. Sorry, always wanted to say that.
5/24/2002 Arnold Katayev