The WipEout Omega Collection brings together the three latest instalments in the long-running, futuristic racer and unleashes them onto the PS4. Consisting of WipEout HD from the PS3, the hefty Fury expansion, and the Vita launch-title WipEout 2048, the Omega Collection packs a generous amount of content into a relatively cheap package ($55 here in Australia). Adding an incredible visual sheen (4K on the PS4 Pro!) and streamlining the three experiences into one cohesive package, this remaster is one of the most dazzling and addictive I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.
Progression through the three games included in the collection follow the same structure. Each career or bracket of events consist of a grid where events are progressively unlocked, earning the player points (XP in 2048’s career mode) which in turn unlock new ships. The absence of any tutorial allows you to dive straight into the action, with the difficulty increasing steadily as you unlock better vehicles and become more familiar with the game’s courses. The lure of new ships keeps you grinding out events, and it doesn’t hurt that the race and battle events span a wide variety of experiences. From the essential circuit races and time trials to the more explosive Detonator and Eliminator events, the progression never feels too repetitive or mundane.
The courses and environments on display are, in a word, GORGEOUS. The background scenery surrounding the race track is vibrantly colourful with great attention to detail, particularly in the career mode of WipEout 2048. Set in a not-too-distant future, the courses are built into the cities, much like Need For Speed Underground 1 & 2, so the environments feel lived-in and organic. That isn’t to take away the impact the WipEout HD & Fury have in their course offerings, 2048 just seems to have more of a ‘wow factor’.
“You’re better off mastering turns and barrel rolls than engaging in combat outside of the dedicated battle modes.”
Unfortunately, the combat of WipEout Omega Collection doesn’t seem fully realised. With a small variety of weaponry at your disposal, it would have more impact if the weapons had, well, impact. The weapon system feels tacked on, even though it’s been a staple in the series since its inception. You’re better off mastering turns and barrel rolls than engaging in combat outside of the dedicated battle modes. Perhaps racers with battle elements have come further than WipEout has, leaving it trailing behind. Indeed, the simple fact of firing backwards has been available in other racers such as Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing since the 90’s, but is unfortunately absent from the Omega Collection.
Another frustrating factor to the weapon system is the voice-overs; picking up a weapon will result in a thundering “missile” or “rockets”, but does the same when an opponent picks up a weapon as well. This led to many occasions where I heard the audio cue and attempted to fire, only for nothing to happen at all.
Fluid controls and limited-but-effective little tricks make the racing even more solid and accessible. Mastering the perfect barrel roll or correctly timing a cheeky side-step onto a shortcut rewards you with a small burst of speed or gives you that edge to nose your way into first place. Left and right air-brakes (mapped to L2 and R2 respectively) offer a deeper level of control while flying down the tracks at blistering speeds. In other racers, the brakes feel superfluous and I rarely bother, yet WipEout had me memorising courses and utilising the brakes down to the minutest of turns. It is worth a mention that the fluidity and response was more fine-tuned in WipEout 2048 than in HD and Fury, with the latter two occasionally feeling jerky and clunky on tight corners and tunnels.
I couldn’t possibly finish the review without a giving a nod to the game’s soundtrack. Packed full of old school club bangers and sizzling trance beats, a staple element of the WipEout brand, the music is the perfect pairing to the on-screen action, and with the volume cranked-up it really drives the whole experience home. Big name artists such as The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy have lent tracks to the series over the years, and it was great to hear some familiar tunes alongside the newer entries. I know for a fact my sisters at home are none-too-pleased with my late night sessions with the game, as I could not resist inching that volume bar higher and higher.
The Bottom Line
As a fan of the original WipEout on PlayStation, but not having any contact with it since, I was excited and truly wowed by the Omega Collection. Packing in loads of content (I haven’t even begun to dive into the online multiplayer or the “Racebox” mode) at such an accessible price-point, the collection really is hard to pass up. If you are looking for a breathtaking, fast-paced, and relentless racer then the WipEout Omega Collection should definitely be on your radar.