Monday, March 19, 2018

Console Corner: Review of Wipeout: Omega Collection

To my knowledge, there is no consensus Playstation mascot, no iconic game that can easily be used to immediately remind people of the console in the same fashion as Mario does the Nintendo or Sonic, the Genesis.  There are games which have appeared on all four generations of the Playstation, for example Tomb Raider, Resident Evil, and Mortal Kombat, but none have become inextricably linked with the console.  (May be a good thing with Mortal Kombat…)  The closest thing the Playstation has to such an iconic image is the Wipeout series.  From the original Wipeout on PS1 to the latest Wipeout 2048 on the PS Vita, the game has appeared in one form or another throughout the years.  In 2017, the anti-gravity, futuristic racing game makes its debut (and likely last appearance) on the PS4 with Wipeout: Omega Collection.

Not a new game, rather a remaster/port of two previous titles Wipeout 2048 and Wipeout HD (including the Fury expansion), the Omega collection makes the latest gameplay available on the latest console.   Done the cheap way (which makes sense considering the game’s developer is out of business), the two games have been brought individually to the PS4, no synthesis of the titles.  This is a bit of a missed opportunity, but certainly not a show stopper.  At the opening menu, the player must choose which version of Wipeout to play: HD, 2048, or Fury, and from there play within that version’s modes, ship types, tracks, music, etc.  You cannot fly a 2048 ship on an HD Fury track, for example.  There are campaigns, but again, not across the titles.  This means three games in one, or a wasted opportunity to integrate the titles, depending on your view. 

Regardless of the minimal effort to bring the titles to the PS4, Wipeout remains one of the best games to play on the most advanced consoles.  Games like Inside, Headlander, Rayman Legends, etc. are great fun, but they do not fully harness the PS4’s technical potential.  Wipeout: Omega Collection does—the bigger the screen the better.  Shooting through sharp neon curves with techno pumping in your ears at 60 fps, it’s a gaming experience only enhanced by the PS4’s processing power.  The feeling of high speed is truly conveyed to the player in a way that pales on older consoles.

Depending which version you choose 2048, HD, or Fury, the Omega Collection offers a variety of race modes.  From time trials (race-length and single-lap) to mini-tournaments, zone trials (escalating speeds) to online competition, combat races to survival, campaign to racebox (which allows you to customize a race any way you like), Omega is much more than three laps against a handful of opponents, then repeat.  There are dozens of anti-grav ships to choose from, all of which have their own specs and styles, and get new skins the more races you run with a given team.  There are also dozens of tracks, which can likewise be raced in reverse.  And the graphics, controls, audio, etc. are all customizable.  On top of this there is an online mode (for races and mini-tournaments, only).  I have not tried this as I am not a Playstation Plus member, which you need to be in order race opponents other than the AI.  

In the end, Wipeout: Omega Collection is nothing new; it is simply a port of Wipeout 2048 and Wipeout HD, and the HD expansion Fury to the PS4.  That being said, it remains a phenomenal experience, a fact only enhanced by the PS4’s technical potential.  Frame rate is improved—an aspect ever so important in any racing game—even as graphics likewise get a boost.  It goes without saying, game play remains superb.  It is still so difficult to. not. race. just. one. more. race. before going to sleep.   As Liverpool Studios, the game’s developers, have closed their doors, it’s likely Omega is the series’ swan song, making Wipeout’s availability on the PS4 for people who never played the game on previous generation consoles all the more important. 

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