When the first Wipeout came out on the original PlayStation back in late 1995, I was but a freckled faced, ten-year-old whippersnapper. 22 years on, if Future Me could hop in a DeLorean and travel back to show that kid even 30 seconds of Wipeout Omega Collection running at 4K/60 frames per second on PS4 Pro, I think his eyes would implode. This blisteringly rapid, gorgeously smooth anti-grav racer isn’t just one of the sexiest remasters of the current generation, it’s damn near the best looking game on PS4.
At full throttle, Wipeout Omega Collection is a ferocious blur of sumptuous, searing sights. It moves like a cheetah in heat (albeit one that hovers in the air and weighs six tonnes) while it handles with such forceful, fluid grace, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the zero-G action. Sony’s prettied up racer is also a somewhat confusing cluster of three old games. Wipeout HD is probably the meatiest title in this package, yet even when it first came out on PS3 in 2008, it was already an amalgamation of jumbled together tracks from PSP’s Wipeout Pure, and its sequel Wipeout Pulse. Next, there’s Wipeout HD Fury, which is really just glorified DLC, featuring a few more courses once again cribbed from the PSP games, and three additional modes focusing on combat. Rounding off the trio is Wipeout 2048: a remaster of a PS Vita racer that hit Sony’s handheld five years ago. In essence, Wipeout Omega Collection is a remaster of a remaster. Talk about the speedster snake eating its own tail.
The content may be recycled, but considering the budget price and the polish that’s clearly been poured into these ports, it’s hard to overly grumble at déjà vu when the bundle is so generous. Indeed, there’s so much content here, you could be racing for weeks and still not tick off every event. 26 tracks, all of which have mirror versions; 46 crazy quick anti-grav ships; eight player online races; nine modes that span vanilla fare like time trials and tournaments, to more high concept contests, such as rounds of Detonator where you clear courses of neon mines with your craft’s laser weapons.
Of course, the real selling point of the Omega Collection is how it looks and runs. The quantity of content is impressive, but it’s the quality of the racing that makes the deepest impression. Even after spending two decades mastering hard banking air brakes (double tap L2 or R2 to shift your ship’s momentum in extra snappy style) I can’t think of another game that’s quite as slickly savage as Wipeout in full flow. Controlling the series’ iconic craft as they aggressively torpedo each other with rockets and fancy futuristic mines is a constant dance of death – lose concentration even for a split second, and speed of sound wrecks await. Turns out, you kinda have to concentrate when driving at 573 km/h.
Plenty of racers have tried to copy Wipeout down the years (I’m looking at you especially, Fast RMX) but none of its pretenders have ever matched the king’s handling model. Whether you’re shifting the weight of the ever-reliable Feisar craft to tackle tricky turns or desperately hoping the bulky Qirex-RD’s shield will withstand another barrage of rockets, the interplay between responsive steering and punchy power-ups is a joy. When you screw up in Wipeout, it’s not down to controller lag or dropped frames. No, it’s because you’re a greedy fool who thought they could wait until the last second to break on that last turn on Moa Therma. Is it freakin’ irritating to get hit by a course-rippling shockwave on a final lap? Hell yes. Yet there’s no Mario Kart blue shell syndrome here. Keep your nerve, drive cannily, and you can often overcome whatever attacks the extra angry AI throws at you.
Whether you’re playing on a regular PlayStation 4 or the suped up PS4 Pro, the action never buckles. Races flow like gushing river rapids. When you start hitting those booster pads and turn into sharp chicanes as glistening, futuristic cityscapes zip past in the background, the sensation of speed borders on the hypnotic. Most importantly, I can’t once recall seeing a hint of slowdown over any of the three games, even in 2048’s heated, last-ship-standing Combat skirmishes.
Lucky enough to own a TV that supports HDR? Then good news: I’ve never seen a more compelling use of the format. Up until now, high dynamic range has never really convinced me. Even in Uncharted 4, I thought switching it on merely made scenes a teensy bit brighter. Not Wipeout Omega Collection, though. Turn on HDR here, and everything pops. Colours are more vibrant in an instantly appreciable way, the dappled rays of sunlight that gently thaw Sebenco Climb’s snowy hairpins glisten so hard I can almost feel my corneas tanning, while the contrast between light and shadow as illuminated billboards pierce through the night sky on the likes of 2028’s helter-skelter Metro Park looks sensational. Alongside Horizon: Zero Dawn, this is the best advert for upgrading to a 4K TV and PS4 Pro I’ve seen.
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My only real complaints lie with some structural inconsistencies over the three campaigns. Both Wipeout HD and its Fury expansion offer a simple grid of challenges, where some 80 events spanning races, speed laps and time trials keep tempting you back in pursuit of gold medals. In contrast, 2048 and its more muddled ranking system takes a little of the purity and fun out of chasing golds. A shame, considering it has the most interesting, twistedly imaginative tracks of the trio. Do a few laps around Empire Climb and you’ll know what I mean. These are minor gripes, though. When Wipeout Omega Collection gets going, there are few other racers that offer the same wonderfully addictive need for truly ludicrous speed.
This game was reviewed on PS4 and PS4 Pro.