WipEout Omega Collection
The Wipeout franchise has been one of Sony’s most respected franchises for 20 years. Beginning in late 1995, it stood out from F-Zero by providing more intense futuristic racing action than the F-Zero series on Nintendo’s consoles. Its use of weapons blended in action with racing and its blister pace kept you on your toes from the beginning to the end of each outing on the futuristic circuits. The PS1-era games were classics, with the third entry leading to a shift in developers – but arguably having the best graphics of the bunch. The PS2-era games saw a reduction in the sheer amount of games, but the overall quality was still high. When the PSP hit the scene, the series was put back in the spotlight with two incredible entries that led to the foundation of Wipeout HD on the PS3 years later. After HD, we got the Fury expansion and then the final entry in the series to date in Wipeout 2048 on the Vita.
However, with half a decade transpiring between then and now, the franchise’s future has been in limbo. Wipeout Omega Collection is put in a tough spot of both celebrating the franchise while also being a possible lynchpin for its resurrection. If it does well, then it shows that there is interest in the series and with Sony going all-out and giving this a full retail release, it is being given every reasonable chance to succeed. The core content of the collection brings Wipeout HD, Fury, and Wipeout 2048 to the PS4 with the former getting an increase to 4K support on the PS4 Pro, up from the PS3’s default of 1080 and the latter going from a rather meager 540p to 4K as well. Photo mode is included for every game and allows you to show off some gorgeous action while flexing your photography muscles at the same time.
Each included game was worth its original asking price – so getting them in one collection is an outstanding value, and the Wipeout formula has held up nicely with age. Its UI could stand to be changed up a bit though. While you can change the in-game HUDs around, the menu system remains a bit clunky. It’s both easy to navigate and a chore to see due to how small the icons are and how small the text is – so you definitely will want to stick to playing on larger TVs to fully enjoy the action. All three games will require fast reflexes too – so don’t even think about playing them drowsy or at the end of a long day.
For a franchise that was ahead of the curve when it came to organic sponsorships in gaming, it’s rather fitting that Red Bull would be put in it because a caffeinated boost can definitely help you out a bit. Each game is predicated on fast turns, motion blur (which you can thankfully turn off), and being able to avoid last-minute weapon shots from enemies. Smaller things like the machine gun can slow you down, while the shockwave can stop you in your tracks and the missiles can take you out temporarily. One great thing is that if you get a dud weapon, you can just convert it into energy to use to absorb damage – meaning that even something that is theoretically bad could become good when you truly need it.
The pulsating trance and rave soundtrack furthers the intensity by providing music that stood out a lot at the time, and remained something that was used throughout the series. While many games tried to evoke Wipeout, few could truly succeed because they didn’t have a vision – and Wipeout had that and oozed style at the same time. The quick pace makes every game included a blast, and there’s a fair amount of mode variety on display. Basics like time trials and races give way to weapon-less races that test skill, while eliminator races test how much better you are than the competition. With those, a weapon shot at the wrong time can either keep you in the running or take you out depending on if you’re giving or receiving the damage.
The Wipeout series has always had twitchy controls, and if you want that, it can be retained here. However, the Omega Collection also gives you some driving assists, which are an absolute must for those who loved the series before but whose reflexes have dulled a bit with time. They provide just enough help to keep you on-track without breaking the game. Given how much can go on at any one time, between enemies, weapons, and sharp turns, it’s good to have some advantage when you can get it. The ability to customize the button mapping is much appreciated and makes this an easy game to play for. HD, Fury, and 2048 all control like a dream here and you can’t blame bad controls for losing – especially for things like time trials, where you need to focus on the track to avoid hitting walls and properly hitting boosters.
Visually, the Omega Collection is jaw dropping. The increase in graphical fidelity takes HD and Fury from incredible to…slightly more incredible. It’s amazing how well those nine-year old games have held up, while 2048 was a marvel for the Vita, but it truly shines here. The vehicles, tracks, and various lighting and weapon effects all shine on the PS4 – with increased resolution and a rock-solid framerate. The overall visual style is slick, with HUDs popping and most in-game text during races being easy to read – even if the core menu system is a bit clunky. Every game in this collection is a feast for the eyes and ears.
The electronica soundtrack works perfectly for the fast action, and the violence of the action comes across great too. Every weapon shot sounds either weak but swift like with the machine gun, while powerful attacks sound visceral and disorienting. Playing this with a quality set of gaming headphones showcases the outstanding sound design – with it being clear where rivals are, or where enemy projectiles are coming from. This allows you to avoid some shots, so if you have a gaming headset or a quality setup for your home, use it here and you’ll be overjoyed.
The Wipeout Omega Collection is a must for anyone who has either loved the Wipeout franchise or heard about it, but never had a chance to see what the fuss was about. With three games included, there’s a lot of content here and all of it is fantastic. It’s a bit of a shame there isn’t content here beyond the games – like a museum or jukebox area, but it’s no big deal. Everything that needed to be put in here was, and small improvements in theory – like the driving assist – really do make it a more fun experience. It plays wonderfully, looks gorgeous, and sounds incredible. Anyone hoping for a return for the franchise should pick it up.
Reviewed By: Jeremy Peeples
Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
This review is based on a digital copy of WipEout Omega Collection for the PlayStation 4 provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment.