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Wipeout was first released on the Playstation 1 in the lat 90's and became famous for demonstrating how to successfully mix two youth cultures - clubbing and gaming. The hover racing game spawn many follow ups, music albums and merchandise as it became the cool kid's racing franchise of choice.
Wipeout has remained exclusive to the Playstation brand and since then appeared on the Playstation 2, PSP and soon arrives in HD on the Playstation 3.
Racing games, although sometimes seen as a sporting sub category, are a well established video game genre in their own right. They can feature a variety of driving styles ranging from the fantastical arcade racing focusing on thrills and spills, to the super realistic simulations that recreate every aspect of real life driving.
Wipeout is visually unique amoungst racing games. It's gaming kudos enables it to draw on the top graphic designers from both the gaming and print industry. Wipeout Pure on PSP had a European track download that featured wonderfully imaginative and bizare environemnt creations by top graphic designers from around the world.
Under the hood Wipeout also offers a distinctive racing style. The vehichles hover around the track (as seen in previous games such as Powerdrome on the Amiga) and have to be surfed more than driven to obtain the optimum line. Air brakes enable the player to hang the back of their craft out around corners for extra tracktion. Finally, you also have to manage the verticle pitch - particularly over jumps - to ensure you offer as much of the flat underside of your craft to the track surface.
Players come to Wipeout for the club inspired urban visuals and styalised racing approach. Even back on the Playstation One there were some impressive vistas to behold. These are made more of in later higher resolution outings of the game that provide replay and photo capture options.
The instinctive feel of the racing combines with the graphics to create a futuristic subday club-racing aesthetic. Something that other games have attempted to imitate although so far without success.
With so many solid versions of the game available you really can play it anywhere you like. Whether you grab the PSP to play on the way to work or sit down with Wipeout HD for an evening in front of the big screen at home, you should be able to get through a race in no more than five minutes.
The real investment of time is in the development of your racing skills, and here timetrails come into there own. Players can invest hour upon hour trying to find the perfect line through each coner and just teh right amount of air braking.
The nuanced steering combined with the steep time and damage penalty for crashing into the edge of tracks makes this a tricky game for novice players to pick up and certainly rules it out for the very young.
Intermediate (or determined novices) though will find that practice enables them to access one of the most engaging racing experience in video games. Once they have won a race or two and start to understand the basics, there is litterally hours of racing to be had here.
Some expert racers may balk at the lack of rubber on tarmac and the complete abscence of any attempt at realism. Those that are willing to go with the hovering mechanic though, will find a game that offers a substantial challenge to even experience gamers. And with the online modes offered on the PSP and PS3 versions this will develop into a fully fledge addiction to many.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: