Republished on Wednesday 31st July 2019: We're bringing this review back from the archives following the announcement of August's PlayStation Plus lineup. The original text follows.
One of PlayStation’s most iconic brands also happens to be one of its poorest commercial performers – it’s for that reason series creator Studio Liverpool finds itself resting in the Sony first-party graveyard alongside other ex-British institutes like Guerrilla Cambridge and Evolution Studios. It’s also the reason WipEout Omega Collection exists: a commercially viable PlayStation 4 remaster, fusing PlayStation Vita entry WipEout 2048 with revered PlayStation 3 instalment WipEout HD Fury.
You’ll have heard the marketing pitch a million times by now: buy this one and we may be allowed to make more. Whether that statement reflects reality or not, fans of anti-grav racers should probably snag this compilation because it’s pretty good – irrespective of what lingers around the hairpin bend. There have been no shortage of pretenders to the property’s crown these past few years, but here’s a reminder that the original’s always best.
That’s not to say that this collection is flawless, though. The package is inconsistent: its wrapper accounts for both 2048 and HD Fury, but they’re fundamentally different games and you can’t mix and match. You’re left with a release that feels a bit messy; even when creating a multiplayer lobby you have to select which title you’re going to play. It’s not a deal-breaker by any stretch, but it’s a shame more couldn’t have been done to unify the two experiences.
Either way, you have two slightly different titles with their own strengths and weaknesses: 2048’s more contemporary Formula One-inspired circuits are an artistic achievement, but its more simplistic game modes don’t make the most of them; HD Fury is brimming with fascinating spins on the futuristic racing formula, but its sci-fi courses are starting to show their age – even in 4K. It’s perhaps worth remembering that some of these tracks date back to WipEout Pure on the PSP.
The single player structure from each release has been maintained as well, with the portable origins of 2048 reflected by its quick play events. Single lap sprints are sometimes the order of the day, and it doesn’t always feel particularly fulfilling on a big screen. The aggressive Fury events from WipEout HD arguably offer the greatest sense of satisfaction, with unique modes like Zone Battle and Detenator on display.
There are three full campaigns on offer here, and they’re complemented by the Racebox mode – an exhaustive selection of modes and options that allows you to set up your own events and competitions, be they solo or split-screen. And there’s also the online multiplayer suite of course, which follows the more straightforward format of HD Fury as opposed to the ambitious 2048 mission-based take.
There are highs and lows to the package itself, then, but fortunately the high-speed racing at the release’s core is rock solid. Running at a robust 60 frames-per-second, this is an impressive remaster. While the original HD Fury tracks don’t immediately appear enormously improved outside of the significant PS4 Pro resolution boost, the WipEout 2048 courses dazzle at double the framerate and on an Ultra HD screen.
The games feel as slick as they look, with flawless controller response accompanying an eye-watering sense of speed. The campaigns can be a little slow-going in the early exchanges – a consequence of easing new players in – but once you’re playing on the high-speed classes you’ll almost be able to feel the Gs. The game really, really moves – and what’s impressive is how it manages to maintain such a high level of visual fidelity despite the amount of activity occurring on screen.
The presentation is exceptional, too: the look of WipEout is a big part of its appeal, from the graphic design of its teams and arenas through to the minimalistic look of its multiple unlockable user interfaces. All of this is paired with a heavy electronic soundtrack that sometimes sounds like the kind of low-rent trance music you’d expect to accompany sub-par striptease shows on late 90s satellite television, but works.
Despite the package feeling overly familiar at times, there is some new content in the form of an all-new team: Tigron. The high-speed but heavy crafts don’t feel remarkably different to other ones in the game, but they sure look the part, with a metallic livery among those on offer. German manufacturer Van-Über’s also back as a pre-order bonus, though at the time of writing we haven’t been able to test out the WipEout Fusion returnee.
WipEout Omega Collection is an impressive remaster that shines at high speeds, though elements of this compilation are starting to show their age. Despite being boosted all the way up to 4K on the PS4 Pro, some of the tracks are returning for the fourth time, and while WipEout 2048’s contemporary layouts look luxurious on the big screen, it can be hard to shake the feeling of familiarity on occasion. That said, if anti-grav is your bag, then there’s nothing quite like the original – even with the number of inferior pretenders on the racing scene these days.