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For the majority of people who acquired a Playstation console when it was launched back in 1995 the original Wipeout offered their first taste of next generation gaming. In an instant it wiped-out tedious talk of how many rings Sonic could fit down his underpants, or how poor old Mario was recovering from an operation on his downstairs plumbing. Instead, Wipeout provided a realistic simulation of what hurtling around a futuristic race track at incredible gut-wrenching speeds would really feel like and firmly proclaimed that there was a new kid on the block. No longer would gamers need to hide inside their point and click anoraks. Playing games was once again cool! The King is dead! Long live the King!
With stunning graphics moving at a commendable frame rate, Wipeout is still perceived as a benchmark title by which all other racing game titles are judged. To those who thought that the learning curve was a little too steep the follow-up was much preferred. While retaining all of the best bits, Wipeout XL (2097) eased more towards pure arcade racing with errors and misjudgments not being penalized so heavily.
Two titles, each aimed at a specific audience. Surely Psygnosis had both angles of the futuristic racing genre covered?
They do, but it is their assumption that you want even more. So here goes...
Wipeout 3 is high-speed futuristic racing in the most extreme sense. Pilot an anti-gravity craft and then blast your way to victory. Survive and become champion. Fail and you must watch as your ship slowly disintegrates.
Amongst a host of key new features Wipeout 3 includes eight new circuits in all, with 3 new teams in addition to the five available in XL 2097, enhanced game modes and dual shock compatibility.
Sound and Vision:
I found it hard to imagine how Psygnosis could improve on the Wipeout XL (2097) visuals and therefore fully expected the third in the series to be fundamental in the launch of the Playstation 2.
Surely no more could be squeezed out of this little gray box of tricks?
Paramount in recreating the Wipeout experience the graphics have once again been pushed to new heights, making for a trip as beautiful as it is deadly.
Where shall I begin?
The intro sets the scene perfectly and practically takes your breath away. Check out those crazy new logos (once again created by The Designers Republic), inter-mingled with slow motion reverse footage as a million fragments eventually reconstruct three previously destroyed anti-gravity craft.
The main problem I find with all of the Wipeout games is that you can't appreciate how detailed the tracks and backdrops are while racing. Why not pass over the controller to a friend, sit back and enjoy the ride as this game is as good to watch as it is to play!
There are eight new circuits to cherish and embrace. Locations include densely populated city-scapes, open countryside, underground tunnels and even through a shopping mall where the track unexpectedly takes a dive down a hundred-foot corkscrew. Each has been designed to thoroughly test the various racing skills required from an anti-gravity pilot. A keen eye is essential for the first couple of tracks. There are very few tight corners allowing the player to sample the breathtaking speed that Wipeout 3 moves along at. I have yet to experience another game that feels so smooth at such a terrific pace. Advancing onto the mid-circuits the player requires a cool head for heights with many death defying jumps and roller coaster straights. Instant reactions are essential for the later tracks that demand full use of the air brakes to take those elbow corners and split junctions.
Animated objects are everywhere. Monorail tubes and high speed trains run alongside the circuit, a flock of birds take to the sky seconds before being flattened to the road, moving cranes can be seen unloading cargo, blossom blows across the track, balloons and aircraft pass overhead, rain, hail and snow falls from a darkening sky.... the list goes on.
From the realistic textures to the pencil thin blue jet stream all of the craft look fabulous, even when racing against up to 12 competitors. However, take a moment to check out the time trial modes as all opponents have been removed and the entire event runs in glorious high-resolution.
Remember Firestarter? Well, there may not be anything as powerful as that track on offer but the selection of dance tunes present certainly won't disappoint.
To match the breakneck speed of the game try hooking up to your sound system and then prepare for a nosebleed as Sasha, The Chemical Brothers, Orbital, Underworld, MKL, the Propellerheads and Paul Van Dyk provide a non-stop barrage on your eardrums.
Although it would be criminal to switch off the music while playing it does disguise many of the games other realistic sound effects. These include the roar of the crowd when entering the home straight, the sound of trains thundering along the rail track and the whistle of incoming missiles.
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