WipEout Pulse «

The magic is back. We don’t know what bizarre mojo the fine folks over at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe are playing with or which deity is responsible for the dark pact that has resulted in WipEout Pulse, but we’re loving it. The synergy of thick and crunchy drum-and-bass beats with high-speed hovercraft racing is unmistakable, and in WipEout Pulse these two elements achieve their finest blending yet. Then there’s the incredible slate of bonuses and extras. In Pulse, you get a lot more than just a hovercraft-racing game.

Brake Beat

Screaming through the kind of high-tech vistas typically relegated to science fiction cinema, your top-of-the-line racing craft handles like a dream, largely due to the smooth, consistent frame rate. Add to this equation a staggering variety of weapons (with accompanying cryptic icons) all capable of reducing your fellow competitors to fused hunks of flaming track detritus, a masterfully produced techno soundtrack and some clever online features and you’ve got a game that has essentially taken up permanent residence in our PSPs.

Tracks are varied and gorgeous, bathing each race in a futuristic patina that marvelously compliments the soundtrack. There are plenty of opportunities to execute the secret tricks employed by WipEout fanatics, like a healthy sprinkling of jumps you can barrel-roll off of (by rocking the d-pad) in order to gain that extra boost of speed that can mean the difference between the thrill of victory and the agony of last place. A new innovation in the form of magnetic sections of track enable the complete defiance of gravity and sanity on tracks such as De Konstruct White where it’s not unheard of to race down a straightaway and execute a quick vertical U-turn and watch the stragglers enter that same U-turn overhead as you blast by them on the return straightaway.

There is also the race mode known as Zone in which you pilot a special stock hovercraft from the team of your choosing in an endless ante-up of increasing speed classes. Zone races are flown solo, your only opponents being the track itself and the blinding speed that will eventually become too much to handle. Every ten seconds your ship remains intact completes a “zone,” with your goal being to complete as many of these as possible before your ship succumbs to the ravages of smashing into the walls of the track at breathtaking Phantom-class speeds (assuming that you’re good enough to last even that long).

On-point Online

Both infrastructure and ad-hoc competitions work flawlessly with minimal lag, but you’d better be sure to practice up before attempting an online match, because the fools out there really know how to race. There are always plenty of matches to be found on infrastructure, which could speak more to the quality of WipEout Pulse than anything else.

Beyond the traditional fixtures like online play, however, WipEout Pulse includes a website where you can design custom skins for your hovercraft of choice. For the rank-obsessed, there’s also a complete listing of global leaderboards for every possible race track/mode combination available so that you can compare your skills with those of every other player on the planet who has access to the Internet.

It’s a well-known fact that we love the WipEout series, so we had incredibly high expectations for this most recent addition; however, we are positively tickled by the fact that WipEout Pulse has exceeded our wildest expectations. Since we last previewed Pulse, it even looks like the dev team added some extra lighting passes to give each ship a glossy sheen and even more flashy special effects for individual weapons. While catering to a somewhat niche genre, we have no reservation about recommending WipEout Pulse to just about anyone with a PSP and a hunger for hypnotic techno and unbelievable speed.


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