Wipeout Pulse PSP

Wipeout Pulse PSP
While it might not have been the first futuristic racing game, the Wipeout series has definitely been one of the more successful. Since it first appeared as a launch title on the original PlayStation, it has endured the shift to each new system almost flawlessly. And as it stands poised to appear on the PS3, the second instalment has surfaced on the PSP as Wipeout Pulse. As a sequel, Wipeout Pulse does pretty much everything right: it keeps all the good stuff from earlier games in the series while adding a few new little bits and pieces, giving the entire thing a fresh coat of paint to make it look better than ever. In fact, it looks so good and plays so well that it is hard to believe that this is all happening on the PSP, a system that is being blessed with one wonderful game after another at the moment. It does have a real "if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality though and casual players might complain that it is a whole lot more of the same. While that might be true to a certain degree, the subtle evolution of the Wipeout series is what makes it stand the test of time. Take, for example, the weapons. In so many combat racers, there is an imbalance to certain excessively powerful weapons that can make them undesirable. But here, the deadliest weapons are the hardest to utilise successfully, almost to the point of being more hassle than they are worth. Plus, there is always the option to absorb any power-up to try and increase your ship’s shield energy, which inevitably depletes as the race progresses. There’s a very solid one player campaign option that mixes up the game’s seven types of races into an intense challenge and once unlocked, those races can be customised in practically any way in the "Racebox Mode.” There are also a wealth of multi-player options where up to eight players can race either in-person or online, ensuring there’s no shortage of alternatives for those looking for human opposition. Then there’s the little touches, such as the almost limitless number of stats the game collects on players, which can be sent to the website for others to peruse. As well, there’s "Photo Mode,” which does exactly what it advertises, and the option to create custom soundtracks just in case the provided one, featuring Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk, isn’t up to scratch. There is also downloadable content coming in the future but it looks like it won’t be free this time around, which is a pity. On the surface, Wipeout Pulse looks like it would appeal to those who were fans of the series in the first place, due to the tougher difficulty levels and delightfully aggressive computer racers who go out of their way to make your life tough. But play with the settings a little and the result is the best looking, fastest racing game on the PSP, and one that possesses enough depth to keep players occupied for a long, long time. (Sony)