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Fast and furious with fantastic firepower
Wipeout 64 (N64)
Member Name: goalmachine
Wipeout 64 (N64)
Date: 25/01/02, updated on 25/01/02 (100 review reads)
Advantages: It's got guns
Disadvantages: If I ever find any I'll let you know
This is what racing games are meant to be about - ultra-fast tests of skill, anticipation, memory, reflexes, and shooting. There, that about sums it up............
Only kidding, there's no way I'm letting you off that easily.
I've decided to write an op on Wipeout 64 as I've mentioned it in a previous op, on Star Wars: Racer, a game I was less than impressed with when I compared it to this one. Well, having made that statement I should be prepared to put my money where my mouth is, so it's only proper that I review this game too. Wipeout originally appeared on the PlayStation (and I think the PC and Saturn too), and was a huge success, so when the N64 was released, a new version of Wipeout was created too. Although that was a few years ago, the game is still the best racing game on the N64 platform.
The premise is simple. It's about 100 years in the future, and anti-gravity racing is the new formula 1. Instead of cars going around a track, levitating car / spaceship hybrids (well, I can't think of anything better to call them) now race at new tracks around the world - there's a radar station in Greenland, an underwater course, and a track on the Moon too. As you would expect in any racing game, there are different craft to choose from, with each one having different characteristics (some have good handling, others accelerate faster, etc). There are also 3 diffent types of single player game to play: race, weapon or time trial. In these challenges you must particpate in a series of 6 races and fulfil a set of criteria - either place 1st 2nd or 3rd in each race (race challenge), beat a preset time (timetrial), or destroy a set number of competitors disregarding final placings (weapon). The race challenge is the easiest, the weapon challenge is the most fun.
As usual in these games, the better you do, you more extras you unlock. By defeating the challenges you unlock 4 new facilities: a bonus track
to race on, an upgrade in weapon power, and a new craft to fly (the Piranha II), which is top of the range in all criteria. You also unlock a "super combo" challenge, which combines the race and weapon challenges - you have to place in the top 3, while destroying x number of opponents. This is HARD. VERY HARD. But it all adds to the enjoyment and longevity of the game. The learning curve in this game is perfect - you can race an easy track in an easy craft at a slow speed to learn the trade before graduating to the challenges, which is a big help; you aren't just thrown in at the deep end.
The graphics are absolutely phenomenal - the colours and speed will astound you, regardless of anything you may have seen before. There is no slow-down, and no pop-up whatsoever. Some of the effects when you fire a weapon are brilliant, and one in particular, the quake disruptor, is hilarious. Seriously, this game is fun. The handling of the cars / craft things is excellent - the analogue stick can take a bit of getting used to when banking around a corner, but you get the hang of it after 2 races. You can surprise yourself at how well you can react at ultra-high speed when presented with a sudden curve. The weapons, which in my opinion are what makes this game truly great, give an added dimension to the gameplay, and all fit in with the futuristic feel. Each of the 5 types of craft has its own unique special weapon which ads to the carnage, with the mini-gun of the Feisar craft being my personal favourite.
Nearly finished. The game also has a multi-player facility, with up to 4 players playing at once. I've only played it with 2 players, so can't comment on the 3 or 4 player options, but in 2 player the game is just as good. There is a slight reduction ni graphic resolution, but this does not detract from the gameplay in the slightest - it is intensely gratifying to shoot your mate in the backside just as he's about to cross the fini
sh line and overtake him as he screams curses at you. Magic.
As always this game has its weaknesses - thing is, I've yet to find them. Maybe it could have had another track or 2, but that's all as far as I'm concerned. It's controller and rumble pak compatible, although not expansion pak compatible, but this is of no consequence.
When compared to the other versions of Wipeout, this one stands up very well. Although I still feel the very first PS Wipeout had the best tracks, and Wipeout 2097 had the best feeling of speed, the N64 incarnation has the best MIXTURE of graphics, speed, track design and playability of any Wipeout yet created - the forthcoming PS2 Wipeout Fusion notwithstanding.
So, a summary. This game is brilliant. The challenges are hard, but pitched at just the right amount of difficulty so as to be addictive, not frustrating. The graphics are magic, the gameplay faultless. Pure driving fans might not like it, but if you like driving games with a shoot-em-up element, then this is the daddy of them all. Go buy. Immediately.
(By the way, I originally posted this op on Ciao, in case it seems familiar - but then it only got 10 reads there, so hopefully it'll get a better reception here!!)