Al Sartwell’s review of Wipeout Fusion

When you first start up the game, you get a choice of three craft that are not modified and are very slow. All of it’s attributes such as turning, and braking are very poor as well. Now this might turn new players off to the game right away since they may think the full game is like this. I think that maybe they should have put in a mandatory free run mode with a somewhat modified ship after the intro to show people what the game becomes, then allow them to play the game. That way, their first taste of the game would be positive. Some people on the fusion board complained about this, and I believe this was the reason. However, once into the game with an upgraded ship, it handles better in my opinion than any previous wipeout game by a good margin. Sure the ships sit low to the ground, but raising the nose of your ship still affects the ship in the same way, and is still needed in the game, especially on the harder tracks. The ship stays on the track on downhills, but off of jumps(and there are plenty)the ship still controls just like previous wipeout games where you can fly and control the pitch.

If you could take off on the crest of a hill all the time, you would be hitting the ceiling constantly, so it works out good this way. Weapons in the game don’t stop you dead (except for one), but rather slow you down. When you hit the wall with your ship, you do not come to a complete stop but rather scrape like in xl. The harder you hit the wall the slower you go. In doing this however, you lose energy off of your shield making you need to pit. Now this is what I hated when first playing the game. The pit was extremely slow to get through and was very frustrating after previous wipeout games, especially when you entered after hitting and trying to speed back up. After your ship is modified however, going through the pits without hitting works just fine. It’s still slower than your race speed, but it works nicely with the new scraping technique in that you are made to go into the pit and slow down for riding the walls too much. I actually like it better now than the old way now after playing through the game. The laps are much longer on average now, so they adjusted the lap count to 3 instead of 5. This is fine for me, since I remember being bored after about 8 minutes on a race on episode one racer.

In single player, there are 5 modes of play; AG League, Challenge, Arcade, Time Trial, and Zone. I started with AG League. There are 10 leagues in all and they range from 3 to 7 races. During the races, you win money for various things such as winning, damage given, ect. You do not even have to win the league to keep all the money you earned, so you could upgrade your ship and play the league again in order to advance to the next league. Also, in between the league races are one on one races to open up more ships. The good thing about the money system and upgraded ships, is that you can downgrade your ship and get the money back to use for a different ship with losing and money. For upgrading ships, It cost more to upgrade the better ships. You also don’t have to win every race to win the league, just as long as you have the most points at the end of the series of races. Scoring is based on 12 for first,10,8 ect and 2 points for each kill. In playing the last league for the first time I was down 7 points going into the last race.

I miraculously won and the leader came in around 7th or so only getting 4 points, so I won by 1. I thought this was kinda cool that all the ships actually perform and also attack each other.

Next, I went on to challenge mode. This was better than wipeout 64 in that there were 6 challenges for all 8 ships for a total of 48. They were well balanced between tough and easy. they ranged from straight race(weapons or none), to Time trials, chase mode-catch the cpu craft in a certain amount of time, weapon modes and and one on one races.

In Arcade mode, you need to medal to move on. There are 42 races total. This was quite fun and time consuming since I was trying for gold on all races. I used a somewhat modified version of the piranha, but other ships would have worked well also. There was lots of mayhem with the weapons on this mode, especially because I didn’t know the tracks very well. You don’t need to do perfectly in this mode, I think it’s just right in difficulty.

After a few custom league runs to fully soup up my piranha craft, I proceeded to time trial where you will probably need this ship to get some of the times. You need to beat the lap record to get gold(there is no silver or bronze). A couple of the races were tough with one in particular that will have you cursing up a storm. Once again this is 42 laps, but does not take as long as arcade mode. Time trial mode has free running laps. This was pretty fun overall and there is a code you can send in for your lap times (which I talk more about at the end).

Lastly, I played zone mode, which I feel is the best part of the game. It is very straight foward, every 10 seconds your craft speeds up and you must survive until zone 30 to get a medal. This was much tougher than the demo in that the other tracks were much harder and learning how to make some of the corners at different speeds is challenging.

In multiplayer mode you can set the number of laps from 3-10, adjust either players or the cpu’s shield energy separately, turn pit lane on and off, have respawning ships, and turn catch up on or off.

Tracks: grade=A

The tracks are topnotch in this game, and there are 42 of them. There are more jumps(and better) in this game than any wipeout game by far, and more importantly they are also very fun. There are some easy tracks, but there are also some tracks so hard with a souped up ship that it makes phantom speed on p-mar project feel as easy as talons reach on venom. Luckily, the new wall scraping technique makes these tracks very playable. There are multiple paths to each course, and I would say that there at least 10 tracks that I like better than any previous wipeout track.

Graphics: grade=B+

For a PS2 game, I would say the graphics are very good. I think the game looks pretty sharp, but I have an excellent TV with s-video cables. I’m pretty sure it will look good on any tv. I would say that 6-7 of the areas have good to excellent graphics with the best being Alca Vexus with waterfalls and lush plant life. I also personally like the style of Vohl Square, it kinda reminds me of manortop or gare d’europa. The colors are excellent as well. The ships details are excellent, they seem much better than the early screenshots, and the weapon affects, damage on ships, energy pit, and weather affects are all phenomenal.

The game

Under all the previous criteria this game gets an A, but in the following are many bugs that will get harped on by reviewers, and sorely missing features in the game will cause the wipeout fans to be quite upset. I feel this game needs to be pushed back to get these items in and here is why in list form. And this is a once play through. There are probably more glitches.

Why the game should be delayed in europe and modified for the us release

note--european wipeout fans can buy the aussie one until the european release

  1. Global drain -- drains all ships energy including YOUR OWN. Shouldn’t it just be the other ships.

  2. Vohl square track 1. Fell off the track near the pits in reverse mode, got picked up by the rescue ship, which in turn put me back on the track only to fall through the track over and over again

  3. Vohl square track 2. four times in a row in challenge mode, going over the last jump, the ship remains like 50 ft above the track and will not come down to the track. The ship passes way over the finish line not registering and you land somewhere in the middle of the next lap, but since it did not register, you are still on the first lap.

  4. Florian heights track 3 -- A) on the last jump I fell through the track the track upon landing a couple of times. B) the pitch of the ship on the last jump does not work correctly, and you cannot pick up the nose of your ship like every other jump in the game. Instead, once it falls down you nosedive into the track below with no chance of correcting your flight. I had mentioned this at E3, and asked about it in a few letters. It was said that this was going to be fixed. This should definitely get fixed, especially considering it’s an early track and has the BIGGEST jump in the game. C) From zone 21 on, on the same last jump, once you land on the track, the nose of your ship stays grinding into the track until you get to the corner before it corrects itself.

  5. This is my biggest complaint and i’m sure many other fans would agree

    No race records or time trial race mode(3 lap race)

    This is my main dissapointment with the game. I could live with the others and the game would still get an A from me. Complete Race records are much more important to the wipeout fan(or racing fan) than a lap record. While lap records are fine, race records are one of the big reasons we play the game. Even if there were no codes to send in, it would still be good to have this recorded in the race section. All that would be needed would be to add race records to the statistics section and have it look like the lap time section. As far as Time trial mode goes, you could still have the lap time codes but just limit the race to 3 laps so you could do the same as race records and have a full race time. Once again, we don’t need a code for these, just a place for full time trial race records. I don’t think this would take up too much time to do. It would give the replayability factor a good shot in the arm as well, giving us far more to do. Note -- most people on the wipeoutzone forum prefer a time trial full race mode over a arcade race mode because they feel it takes some of the luck out of competing against other pilots and requires more skill. So if there was a choice between these two elements, they would choose a TT race mode. Also, I would say to the man, that everyone entering records on the wipeoutzone site would prefer race records over lap records.

  6. NEGCON -- This works fantastically for the game, but for the d-pad to change music and view on the horizontal axis is very bad. It’s just too easy to accidentally hit left or right when pulling back on the pad. I didn’t have a lot of trouble with it, but when I had friends over they were constantly doing it. The best way to deal with this would be to just not have those options for the negcon during gameplay. Neither is needed and you can adjust view from the main menu. Wipeout 3 did this with look backwards and change view and that worked out well. I have ways of modifying my controller, but for future versions these two things should be removed.

  7. Eliminations -- I was told that when lapping cpu opponents, you would recieve an elimination. I was very psyched to try this out to no avail. This only works when the cpu laps you on a weapon challenge. This is really bad because when you are lapping opponents, they should not get rewarded by being able to hit you with weapons again, and you should be rewarded for lapping these craft by driving so well. This can get very frustrating when doing well in a race.

  8. Time in 2 player mode -- The game does not show you your final time in two player mode. This goes along with number 6. Times are always what wipeout has been about and should continue to be.

These are more minor improvements i would suggest
  1. Three point to point races -- Where are they?

  2. No replay mode?

  3. No ending sequence

  4. Two player mode speed of game -- the view is great in horizontal and vertical split screen, and the game plays fine, but is this why the game moves slower speedwise, not framerate than one player mode. Or what I’m saying is does the view cause this to happen.

  5. Wipeout FusionDarkness of screen -- some of the tracks have very dark areas where in order to navigate you need to know the track well, most notable on one of the zone modes where you absolutely have to know the track.

  6. Looking back to fire backwards -- couldn’t it also be implemented by just pulling back the pitch of the ship. Maybe don’t have it lock on if you don’t look back, but it would still fire.

  7. Multiplayer weapons -- These weapons are so cool that maybe they should be an option to turn on during one player after you have beaten the game

  8. Fast ship cheat -- THIS is unplayable, way too fast. How about the special zone ship on zone 40- 45 instead, that would be a blast

  9. Link up -- Why change the wipeout tradition when every true wipeout fan wants it.

  10. Game cover -- There were some much better pictures in the gallery to use, maybe you should do a poll on your site to pick a better cover for release. There where some nice ones at the bottom of the page.

Final grade = B

NOTE- For me this game would get an A- as is if it just had the full race records or better a Time trial race mode. I love this game but fear that some reviewers will get a hold of some of these problems and give the game a bad review. From number 9 up if most of that was fixed, I would give this game a A+. I hope you guys at sony take notice of these things, cause you don’t want to ruin a chance for a great game to also sell alot, which is what this game should do.

Al Sartwell