Wipeout 3 Review

By: John Doe

Futuristic hovercraft racing has been around since the days of F-Zero on the Super Nintendo. The Wipeout franchise matured the look, sound and feel of this new genre and offered itself to an older, more discerning audience. Since the first Wipeout appeared in 1995, the game and its sequel Wipeout XL have sold millions, making it the king of futuristic racing games. Wipeout 3 brings a lot of new innovations to the table which will please veterans and newcomers alike.


The original PlayStation hovercraft game is back for it's third kick at the cat. Wipeout 3 starts off slow to ease newcomers into the game, but then kicks up the juice immediately to satisfy veterans. However, the tracks are so difficult that all-comers will be hard pressed to complete certain events. As you'd expect, the game is chock-filled with new features such as high res visuals, two player split screen, new modes, new weapons, new tracks and new vehicles, not to mention a killer techno soundtrack. As they say, "The third times the charm." But does that hold up in the case of Wipeout 3?

The first thing you will notice about Wipeout 3 is that the company responsible for making the world of Wipeout a reality, went all out this time. I'm referring to the real world design and marketing company that develops the logos and look of the various hovercraft teams. At the start of the game you will see the various team logos appear which sets up the futuristic feel that the entire game is based on. After you witness those futuristic advertisements, you'll no longer be in 1999. Psygnosis went to great lengths to make the game as far removed from our time as possible; for better or worse. In fact the whole presentation of the game is a tad over the top; who cares about what font is used for the typestyle of the game? Yes this information and more can be found in Wipeout 3 making the whole experience a little confusing. Once you figure out what is useful information and what is useless busy work, then you can begin the game.

The whole idea behind Wipeout is to navigate these bizarre, twisting tracks while trying to place first anyway you can. Along each track are speed pads which increase speed and weapon pads which activates that weapon on your ship. This time out you can discard a weapon if you like, which is very handy. There are 6 offensive weapons and 5 defensive weapons to choose from. My favorite is the Quake Disrupter which distorts the tracks in front of you, slamming opponents around. Watching the track morph in real time is a great trick and I'm glad that this weapon has returned. A new innovation added to this years hovercraft models is the Hyper-Thrust. The R1 button activates the thrust feature which will send you shooting forward at great speeds. Using this does deplete your energy shield as does hits from enemies or crashing into walls, so use wisely. You can always recharge your energy by using the pit lane on the tracks. For the first time analog control is supported and it is definitely the only way to play this game.

Visually this game looks great especially in its new high res mode. However, I found the environments of Wipeout XL more teeming with life than in this installment. Of course, we all know that the more things you have happening on-screen the slower the framerate, so this time out we have style over substance. I doubt anyone will really complain when they see that smooth framerate. Musically, this game features a ton of new techno tracks and remixes from The Chemical Brothers, Propellerheads Orbital and others. If you like bass drum on quarter notes and hi-hats on sixteenth notes, then you'll love what these guys are serving. I vote for techno music to get a new beat already. It's getting a little old fella's. I think we've taken this thing as far as it can go. That's not to say the soundtrack isn't good; it's downright techno-licious. Charlotte at Psygnosis was kind enough to send me the soundtrack and at first I thought every track sounded the same. That was until I realized that there was only 1 track on the CD and every time I pressed the new track button, it was starting over. Duh. Anyway, the soundtrack sampler is 30 minutes and will have you clubbin' dudes phat with prime-rib moxy. I don't even know what that means, I just made it up. Feel free to use it though. You'll sound cool and "with it". So try and get your hot wax mother of pearl jam rum gunner fingers on it. Hey, you can use that one too.

Some new modes of play have appeared in this three-quel. Single Race will allow to you race one track at a time. Perfect for those guys who can't commit. Time Trial is a race against the clock without opponents or weapons. You may also race a ghost craft of the previous best time. Challenge mode has 24 unique assignments for you to complete with the challenges separated into 3 categories: Race, Time & Weapon. The manual hints at a hidden fourth mode as well. The Eliminator is a point based race where 1 point is awarded per lap and 1 point per destroyed opponent. The amount of points can be configured from 1-99 points. Finally there is Tournament mode for those who can commit to a whole whack of competition. The first tournament is a cakewalk, but watch out for the second. The difficulty jumps right up and becomes darn near impossible. I consider myself a vet at Wipeout, and I never made it past the second tournament. Needless to say I can't even tell you what the third tournament holds. The Challenge mode on the other hand is great fun and will allow you to open the highest difficulty tournament tracks so you can play them in the other modes.

Two player mode has finally been done right. No more link nonsense. Yay! The two player mode is a great reason to buy this game. The graphics scream by and the AI of your human opponent (and I do mean artificial intelligence) makes the game less challenging and much more fun. You can split the screen either horizontally or vertically which is all the rage these days, so you can get the best view possible.

Complaint Dept. The only downfall to this game is the high level of difficulty and okay, maybe the sterile environments. Who's idea was it to bring your vehicle to a complete stop when it hit a wall; Satan's? This coupled with the impossible to navigate turns of the later challenges make this one frustrating monkey. As I said, even veterans will have a hard time with this one.

If you could combine the challenge and exciting environments of XL with the high res, analog control and new innovations of 3, I dare say you'd have the best racing game ever made. As it is, Wipeout 3 is a good racing game and will go a long way to please fans and newbies alike. I would highly suggest newbies start out with Wipeout 1 and XL and then make their way to 3. You'll love all three. Bottom line: Good but should have been easier. I can't wait for Wipeout on the PS2.






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