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Another game bites the dust...(Wipeout Pure)

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Around a month or so ago, I mentioned the game Wipeout Pure in one of my blogs. Well, I got around to playing it, and beat it. I lost track of how long it took, however.

If you're not familiar with the game, it's basically Mario Kart and F-Zero combined - it's futuristic racing with an energy meter, but you also get weapons.

What's simultaneously most frustrating and most likable about the game is that there is no rubberband AI. You know how in certain other games, you could be close to winning, only to get nailed by a superweapon solely created to say "fuck you" to all people who dare play it and do well before the finish line and get passed up by 3 others? Wipeout doesn't have any of that. What it does have, however, are weapons that can really slow you down or screw you over, and the AI knows how to use them. Here's a quick overview.

Rocket: Three dumbfire missiles that spread out as they go along. If all three connect, it really hurts, and it really slows you down.

Missile: A single homing missile. You need to wait for it to lock on, though, and it isn't the best when it comes to navigating turns. But it can bounce off walls!

Distruption Bolt: If you're hit with this, any number of things can happen; from your controls being reversed (annoying as fuck), to your airbrakes not working, to bouncing around on the track, to the beneficial autopilot activating. If a computer is hit by this, it just swerves around and slows down a little.

Mines: Five spikey balls that are laid out one after another. You can either try to lay them as straight as you can and try to cause as much damage as possible to a poor sap, or swerve across the track as you're laying them to make sure they can't be avoided. Explode after a while.

Bomb: A single explosive device that explodes when an opponent comes near it. Never explodes on its own, so it's fun to put them near boost pads.

Auto-Pilot: The AI takes over your ship for 5 seconds. Useful because it navigates turns with superhuman ability.

Shield: Shields you for 5 seconds.

Turbo: Zoom.

Plasma: One of the superweapons of Wipeout. Anything that gets hit with this will be feeling it for a month. The downside, or as I like to call it, balancing factor, is that its tough to aim due to the charge up time.

Quake: The other superweapon of Wipeout. Sends a wave of fire down the track, plowing through anything in its way. Even racers on forks are not safe, because it'll go up there too! The only way to avoid it is to activate a shield or not be in the way.
There are five race/speed classes: Vector, Venom, Flash, Rapier, and Phantom. The AI difficulty increases as you go up the race classes, but it's very weird. In Venom, Flash, and Rapier, all of the AI racers except the guy who starts in 7th race PERFECTLY at the beginning of races. They stop doing so after a while, but it effectively makes you work to get up to 1st. But in the lowest and highest difficulties, there's none of that.

Another weird placing thing is how many racers tend to stick together. You could be in 7th, and go to 3rd in a blink of an eye, because 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th place are all close together. Another weird AI thing is that you need to pass the guy ahead of you to pass the guy ahead of that guy. That doesn't sound like much because of the way I worded it, but you have to remember that the AI will race to the best of its ability. Ergo, you could be travelling at a steady speed, but if you can't leave the guy near you behind (through boosts or whatever), you won't reach the guy in the next place up. When you do that and reach the next guy, you may be able to pass him easily at said steady speed. It's pretty much something you have to deal with, but it's still possible to get into and stay in first from the get-go on the highest and lowest difficulties (this is speaking from personal experience)

But despite that quirk, the AI never really feels like rubberband AI. You always get a fair shot. You'll never get screwed over by things it should logically not be able to do. When you're in first, the AI does more of a bendable-but-not-extremely-stretchable pipe rather than a rubberband. It tends to try and stay 2.5 seconds behind you at most, but if you're good, you can make it eat your dust, and if you're bad, it doesn't mean everyone will pass you when you mess up (usually only the 2nd place guy and sometimes the 3rd).

I think the most annoying part was even before I started - I needed to find the DLC packs which have since been made inaccessable from the "official" source, and had trouble finding them (but succeeded in the end). That act nearly doubled the number of tracks, though, and added a fair amount of racers.

To 100% it, you must get 1st place in every single single race on every class, 1st place in every tournament a gold medal time on every time trial, and surviving the slow-to-mind-blowingly-fast Zone courses to their gold Zone requirements (you only need to do it once each).

The time trials in this game are weird. Sometimes, you can absolutely demolish the time needed for a gold medal by 15-20 seconds, but other times, you'll barely make it. It seems like the ones with a lot of turns are easiest, surprisingly - because of a bug in one ship called the Triakis that lets it turn without slowing down as much (and it's pretty fast in itself).

The races and tournaments are where things can get tricky. I mentioned how irritatingly annoying yet so fair AI is already. I found a counter to that when I was in the Rapier Class, though. My idea was to park myself on an item pad, keep absorbing the items until I get a Quake, and unleash it backwards down the track - right into the other ships. Bombs, Missiles, etc. would be fired as the ships as they were passing by - and sometimes forward Quakes if they're nearby. The relative rarity of Quakes and extreme frequency of turbos and autopilots made it annoying, but it was just enough to use on a regular basis. I employed this after attempts to use CheatDevice failed (I found the current item bytes, but it always changes, and searching for codes makes the game freeze when it tries to autosave), and it worked just as I wanted it to (with much more satisfaction!). Using this in tournaments is also funny - if you destroy everyone else, you get 8 points, and everyone else gets none!

Speaking of tournaments, points, and destruction, the last Gold Medal I had to get was an 8-race tournament - the "big circuit" of the lone game. I'd already completed its bigger brother which is only accessable with the DLC tracks and has 12-races. But whereas on that one, I almost ruined it all by celebrating one lap at the end of the last race too early, I had the last one in the bag when I got down to 2 races left. I had 44 points, and the next nearest guy had 28. Even if I lost or was destroyed in those two races, I still would've gotten first place! In fact, that's just what happened - the second-to-last being by mistake, but the last one being on purpose. And to boot, I cost said guy first place by dying so quickly - when you finish the race by any means, everyone else's current position will become the one they finish the race in if you go by the screen showing the number of points everyone has - something I regularly took advantage of.

So yeah. For a $3 bargain bin game, it was surprisingly good. The only thing I didn't like about it was the music - it has techno music, but none of it is race-ish or catchy. Might start Wipeout Pulse next. Too bad North America hasn't gotten DLC tracks with that game yet, despite promises of it, but it should still be fun to play.

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  1. Pikapurple's Avatar
    Oh! I think I have this game on my PSP. I always choose the girly looking hovercraft car.


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