PlayStation Wipeout fans have had a long wait, but it's almost over as Psygnosis has officially announced Wipeout 3. The most exciting news is that the leading hovercraft racer will finally feature two-player split-screen action. For those who were daunted by Wipeout XL's demanding tracks and A.I., Psygnosis says the difficulty curve will be much more gradual, offering rookies more breathing room to ease into the fray.
The eight new tracks will be scattered around a futuristic, Hong Kong-esque city, and will vary from F-Zero-style wide open tracks to the challenging twists, turns, and jumps that are the series' hallmark. Seven new weapons will complement the "best" four from previous games, while three new teams will join the roster. Naturally, the game will support analog controllers, and Psygnosis is promising a graphical facelift as well. Get ready for more rocketlike racing this winter.
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After a three-year hiatus, the Wipeout franchise is finally making its return to the PlayStation with Wipeout 3, which promises to be just as intense as its futuristic-racing brethren, sporting more of what fans want while retaining the flair and style that made the series a huge hit. Wipeout 3 turbos off the starting line with eight new highly detailed tracks set in the customary futuristic cities. Psygnosis is also adding all-new craft designs for three new teams, bringing the count to eight (including the five teams found in Wipeout XL).
The best news for Wipeout fans is that the frame rate for W03 is already supersonic with hardly any pop-up. Furthermore, the racing environments are taking shape rather nicely, featuring such familiar sights as towering panda bears and neon signs. Other scheduled highlights include Tournament, Challenge, and Deathmatch modes; two-player split-screen action; dual analog support; and 12 weapons: 7 new and 5 of the best from Wipeout XL. If Psygnosis survives the final shock wave, gamers will once again be in futuristic-racing heaven.
Even though WipeOut 3 doesn't have the same kind of flair WipeOut XL did when it came out, this third installment does the futuristic racing series justice--which is refreshing in this age of uninspired sequels. Its graphics are even more impressive than the previous games, though it's not the effects fest I expected. There are still a number of sweet-looking hovercraft to choose from, each with its own make-believe futuristic corporate sponsor. As you'd expect, the awesome design style is in full force. And the courses, though still filled with crazy banks, jumps and hills and such, aren't quite as impressive as the courses in XL. Problem is. the difficulty isn't as gradual as I would've liked. In WO3, the jump from the first circuit to the second will definitely take you by surprise. I finished with gold on all of the courses in the first circuit in a matter of a couple of hours, opening a bunch of new vehicles and tracks in the process. When I moved onto the second circuit, I got stomped in no time. And forget about the third circuit--I barely finished a race! This aside, control is still top-notch--even though there's that damned "touch the wall even in the slightest and you'll come to a dead stop" thing. And of course there's the music...the sweet music. As usual, it's incredible and deserves its own CO at the local music store.
The most fashionable game around receives a little bit of visual body work...and almost nothing else that's really worth mentioning. Sure WipeOut 3 has new weapons (big deal) and new tracks (the mall is cool, I gotta admit), but It's practically the same game you've been playing for years. But man, this game looks nice, especially with the ultra-smooth frame-rate, which stays slick even with the two-player split screen action going on.
The big deal with WO3 is the hi-res graphics and D) Sasha (he's big in the U.K.) on the wheels of steel. Well, I was disappointed musically because the tracks all sound similar. I didn't think Orbital could sound like the Chemical Bros, but I guess I was wrong. Aside from the lame polygonal engine light, the graphics in WO3 are some of the best for a racing title on the PS. It also feels like the controls are a lot less forgiving in WO3 than they were in XL.
Before you play this for very long, it's tempting to bag on it for just being more of the same, but I think it offers just about enough to make it worthwhile, especially for fans. First and foremost, I think the whole thing is worth it for WipeOut junkies just to be able to play with the analog controller...it makes such a huge difference. Throw in the crisp new graphical look and the split-screen modes and you have a worthy sequel.
One of the PlayStation's five launch titles, the original WipeOut helped sell thousands of new systems (particularly in Europe, where for months one copy of the game was purchased for every two systems) and sowed the first seeds of doubt about the graphically underpowered Sega Saturn. The game, with its thumping techno soundtrack and futuristic visuals, also introduced a number of brand-new marketing "hooks" to the video game industry; music CDs and game-inspired club-wear were snatched up by eager fans, and promotional game kiosks were set up at popular night clubs.
While a pair of sequels (WipeOut XL for PlayStation and WipeOut 64 for N64) helped franchise sales top 1.5 million, neither rekindled the excitement generated by the original.
Seeking to capitalize on PlayStation's current installed base of over 50 million systems, Psygnosis hopes to introduce the series to scores of new gamers with the impending release of WipeOut 3.
In the attempt to infuse the game with some much-needed originality, WipeOut 3 is being created by a number of developers from Psygnosis Leeds Studio with no prior WipeOut experience. (Only one original team member remains.) The result is a game with fresher track designs, an easier learning curve, and dramatically sharper visuals; the game's hi-res graphics are reportedly 60 percent sharper than WipeOut XL's. A number of minor tweaks, such as the ability to drop unwanted weapons, have finally been made and are sure to please long-time fans.
Cult graphic design company Designers Republic has been brought back into the fold for the third installment to create logos for the new teams as well as the game's interfaces. Also, the decision to include only urban tracks gives the game a grittier, realistic look.
All-new ship designs and seven new weapons also join the mix, while old favorites such as the shield and homing missiles have been modified to improve their impact. The analog control* although a bit touchy for newcomers, makes mastering advanced courses a bit easier.
As for WipeOut's celebrated soundtrack, a well-known British DJ, Sasha, has been appointed as musical director. In addition to selecting tracks from such artists as Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Propellerheads and Paul Van Dyk, Sasha is developing his own mix for the game.
While many long-time PlayStation fans undoubtedly will greet the game with a resounding "been there, done that," gamers who missed the series' previous installments should check it out.
- MANUFACTURER - Psygnosis-Leeds
- THEME - Racing
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1 or 2