Wipeout (sometimes styled wipEout) is a series of futuristic racing games developed by SCE Studio Liverpool (formerly Psygnosis), widely regarded as the PlayStation's answer to Nintendo's F-Zero series. Players race anti-gravity craft at speeds of several hundred kilometers per hour (several thousand in some games), while exchanging weapons fire and attempting to avoid potential elimination (an element introduced in the second game). Visuals, atmosphere and music are three of the hallmarks of the Wipeout series; the first three games were made in cooperation with well-known Sheffield design agency The Designers Republic, and the game's soundtracks consisted of an extensive collection of songs from underground Electronic Music acts, many of who would become rather successful in the games aftermath.The original Wipeout, released in 1995, was the first non-Japanese game for the PlayStation. Seven installments have been produced since:
Nintendo 64: 64 (1998; strange, as Psygnosis was a Sony subsidiary by this point)
Playstation: 2097/XL (1996) and 3 (1999; Special Edition rerelease in 2000)
All There in the Manual: The Wipeout game mention little-to-no amount of story, and you'd never think there would be any. But supplementary material (including older websites that are now gone forever) has since provided two centuries worth of backstory to anti-gravity racing, and all of the companies involved in it. It's almost scary how much there is compared to how much we can see of it.
Artificial Stupidity: In the early games, opponents followed predetermined paths at fixed intervals from each other. This got toned down a bit for the series's later installments.
They also didn't use half of the weapons. When they gained access to all weapons for Fusion, it became clear why. For one, it made unlocking weapons a bad thing: being able to fire one quake or gravity blast about every six times you got nailed with one from any of the 15 other ships on the track isn't a good trade-off. Things got more balanced in this regard with Pure and its comparative lack of area effect weapons, though it is still hard to overtake a pack of ships without getting mines or a bomb in your face every time you are about to catch up.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Plasma Bolt was a One-Hit Kill in earlier games, but had a long charge time and only goes in a straight line. As of Pulse, it is slightly easier to use but no longer a guaranteed KO.
In Wipeout 3, it was both easy to use AND an instant kill. Elimination contests came down to how many plasma bolts you got. Luckily, elimination mode was revamped in later games, though Pulse has an overpowered unlimited duration leech beam in eliminator mode.
Awesome yet Practical: The Quake Disruptor. It has always been the most useful powerup, and it's very cool to boot, causing a large wave on the track.
Except in 2097 where it was first introduced. It was slower than in the later installments; in fact, it moved at about the same pace as a Phantom class ship. The end result was a large wall of tarmac in front of your nose blocking your vision. This made it virtually useless on Phantom class.
In some iterations, you can actually fire the quake backwards either by stopping and turning around before firing (Pure, Pulse, HD Fury), or by simply looking backwards before firing (Fusion). This is especially fun if you're in first place because you're pretty much guaranteed to hit everyone behind you!
Blood Sport: Well, you have weapons. The rest follows. (Unless you're playing the original game, in which the weapons merely slowed opponents down.) In Eliminator mode, players must eliminate a select number of opponents before the race ends.
And the humble missile, which is usually an amazing sleeper weapon because it has long range and a powerful effect. And in the first two games there was a weapon (Shockwave/Electrobolt) that would slow down the target while doing virtually no damage; despite this, the slowdown added up to more time lost than any of the explosive weapons and it was the best weapon, followed by the missile. It was still removed in Wipeout Fusion by the development team because it was considered useless. Fools.
The energy shield. Time it correctly and you will make it through the Quake unharmed... and if you do, everyone around you (and in front!) gets blasted senseless, leaving you with a chance to take the lead. Every bit as good as shooting that quake yourself!
The Cameo: If you look carefully at futuristic car sequence of Wipeout 2048's opening cinematic, you'll spot some Motorstorm cars. They're from games made by Evolution Studio which is one of Playstation exclusive developers much like what Studio Liverpool is.
Canon Discontinuity: Wipeout Fusion was poorly received among the series fan base due to changes in gameplay, the removal of teams dating back to the original game, and lackluster visual design (being the first entry without The Designers Republic's input). The backstory to Pure undid most of these changes, attributing the excesses of Fusion to Executive Meddling and the placement of profit over ethics.
Pilot Level: In 2048 you gain Experience Points from races to rank up. The higher rank the more crafts you get available. Most crafts are unlockable at certain levels, including Prototype Crafts.
Cold War: The American (Auricom) and Russian (Qirex) teams are in perpetual rivalry.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Rubberbanding AI ensures you will never win a race by more than a few seconds. In tournaments, the same opponent will always finish all races in first place, unless you finish first in which case he gets a guaranteed second (barring some highly focused strategic weapon play on the player's part)
In the PSP iterations, the opponents will have unlimited boost usage in the first lap. Oh, and you always start in last position. Good luck catching up!
Competitive Balance: Every craft has it's own different stats. It usually depends on the manufactur you to go with.
Computer Voice: "Contender eliminated", as well as on weapon pick-up. Wipeout HD's computer voice reads off a pre-flight check-list before a race begins. "... Shield levels: check. Engines: check. Ship functions: check. Switching to manual."
In 2048, when you unlock a craft, you get computer voice that reads up some info of it. It also says what weapons you picked up, and tells you if you got a normal pass or an "Elite Pass". The weapon pickups are unique because the voice is different depending on the team and their country of origin. For example, Quirex's computer voice has a deep Russian accent whilst AG Systems has Japanese accent.
With the added Wip Eout HD + Fury DLC for 2048, you can now access those ships too. However, due to the different menu system, the computer voice announcing your team is now done at the Team Select screen rather than when an event is started. This results in the rather pleasing possibility to just keep tapping team icons to hear the voice list them. "FEISAR. Auricom. Icarus. Goteki 45. Mirage..."
Crap Sack World: While the background material has always been deliberately vague, there's always been hints that things aren't as utopian as the art style suggests. The world is apparently so obsessed with a violent sport that when the F9000 league collapsed prior to Pure it caused global recession and several wars and if the trackside advertising is anything to go by (In the earlier games the teams were the only advertisers except real world product placement in 2097 and Fusion and are still the dominant force in later ones) the megacorps that sponsor the teams are major forces in the world. However when Pulse introduced track descriptions before each race, it went from hints to outright stating how bad the world had got. Some of the terrible events outlined include: The Greenland Icecaps melting, an epidemic in Nova Scotia leading to quite a substantial city being abandoned, references to the "ashes of Geneva" and a Grey Goo scenario actually occurring in Wales!
Mostly subverted in 2048 since it's a prequel of sorts.
Also downplayed in Wip3out and Pure onwards. In the first two games, the world was obviously more dystopic, and dark compared to the brighter and cleaner style that the series embraced afterwards. With this, the dark breakbeat soundtrack of the first two games was replaced with a brighter, cleaner soundscape. Perhaps it could be said that as the Electronic Music scene shifted to lighter Trance during this same time period, the series simply follow it's lead.
Critical Existence Failure: Your craft is usually destroyed once you have no more energy left. Since it's percent based it becomes a bit jarring when you play a Zone Mode race and have only 1% energy left.
Crutch Craft: In 2048 you start off with the moderately fast Feisar Speed. It's the fastest vehicle for you from when you start till you either unlock the Pir-Hana Speed or rank up high enough. Although one should remember, Wip Eout isn't entirely based on speed.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: During 2048's Elimination Races, getting your craft destroyed sets you back 1 point. Which is easily gained back within a few seconds.
Death Trap: 2048 Pir-hana's prototype. No steering. Just airbrakes. Have fun!
Deflector Shields: Loads of 'em. There's the temporary shield, the reflector, the force wall....
Vector class is removed in later games, probably for being Easier Than Easy at it's incredibly slow (for a racing game) top speed. Imagine the 50cc class from Mario Kart, then make it 25cc and give it wings.
Of course, it went from Vector/Venom/Rapier/Phantom to Venom/Flash/Rapier/Phantom. And Vector was only really painfully slow in the third game.
A part of Studio Liverpool went on to from up Sawfly Studio.
Eagleland: Auricom, as the representative of the United States and Canada. Its portrayal is generally positive, as shown in its being the first to withdraw from the corrupt F9000.
In Fusion their superweapon was a Kill Sat, but the team leader told you to 'please not use it too much' because it violated the 'beauty of the sport'. (Sorry, I can't hear you over the CONTENDER ELIMINATED. Heh.)
Early-Bird Cameo: Piranha is mentioned as a parts manufaturer in the ship specifications section of the first games manual, set almost a full half century before their debut as a racing team in 2097
Endless Game: Zone mode, in which the craft keeps going faster until the player can no longer successfully steer through the track.
Energy Weapon: The plasma bolt, electro bolt, energy leech, among others.
Fan Nickname: In the early games, there are rescue droids which grab your ship and place you back on the track, should you fall off. The fanbase has nicknamed them "Wuss Wagons".
Fictional Document: Loads of them, including various team ship specifications and even branding guidelines.
Fragile Speedster: Faster crafts tend to have weaker shielding. This is Icaras' hat in all of their appearances.
2048 made most, if not all, of the Speed class crafts are this. Most weapons available for this class are usually weak, like the Cannon and one Rocket. Oddly enough the Feisar Prototype can pass the max speed and still use weapons mostly available to Agility class crafts.
Glass Cannon: The unlockable Zone and Medievil teams in Pure have great stats but pitiful shielding.
Icarus have greatest top-speed (It even out-classes Piranha!) in exchange for paper-thin armor. Team's history says that in it's early days, making it to finish line is a great success in itself.
Jack-of-All-Stats: Auricom ships are generally average but balanced in all aspects. In Pulse and HD, this is Mirage's hat (aside from being the weirdest looking ship of the stock game). Assegai and Qirex also count; they have slight boosts in handling and shield, respectively, but they are otherwise average.
Most Agility class crafts in 2048.
Japan Takes Over the World: Anti-gravity inventor Pierre Belmondo's AG Systems is bought out by a Japanese conglomerate by the time of the first game.
Gratuitous Japanese, especially on the first game's European cover artwork.note For this particular one, it has an accurate transliteration of "Designers Republic" in katakana.
Kawaisa, which adorn various track billboards, and, a few ship decals.
Lighter and Softer: The series underwent this to a rather small degree during Wip3out, with the visual style becoming significantly streamlined and the soundtrack shifting towards Trance from the dark breakbeat the first two games used. As this shift was occurring in the Electronic Music community that Wipeout built itself around, the games followed suit to keep with the times.
Luck-Based Mission: Fusion and its multi-track championship format where you have to consistently finish in a good position, along with the existence of the Gravity Bomb and Cryo Rocket which were almost guaranteed to respectively drop you all the way to the bottom of the pack or eliminate you in one hit and pocket change. During the course of the game you were very likely to have at least one championship ruined by some of the various cheap shots in the game. This was dialed down in later installments.
Macross Missile Massacre: In the earlier games, the AI was unable to use most advanced weapons and generally stuck to projectiles, which they used eagerly as you approached first place. Most of them missed, even the homing weapons, but the constant spam of incoming weapon warnings was a little unnerving.
Magikarp Power: 2048 FEISAR's prototype is the AG craft that demands precision. It starts out slow but it'll rack up permanent increase in speed when passing over speedpads until you wrecked it or entering a new lap.
Crashing into walls at certain speeds can decrease you speed by a bit, but it depends on how hard you hit a wall with it.
Mega Corp.: The sponsors of the various leagues, as well as the owners of some of the teams (Triakis, for instance). Overtel, which owns the Qirex team, also controls most in-universe communications networks.
Harimau and FEISAR avert this however. The former is explicitly named as a humanitarian charity on the Pure website, and the latter is presumably a government owned research firm (The FE stands for Federal European)
According to the US manual for Wipeout FEISAR stands for Federal European Industrial Science and Research. The country of origin is European Consortium.
Mighty Glacier: Most Fighter based crafts are this, especially in 2048. The best example in 2048 is the Qirex Fighter. It has a lot of health, has the highest damage output of most Fighter crafts, but makes up for this with it's speed.
Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover pieces themselves aren't examples, but in-game menus and HUDs have a distinctly stripped-down feel to them, especially in Wipeout 3.
One suspects that this is part of the reason why Wip3out didn't sell well. This◊ was the original box. The special edition rerelease looked like, uh, this.◊
More Dakka: FEISAR's superweapon in Fusion is essentially a souped up missile. And, in the same game, EG-R's superweapon are three small drones which lock on a random target and swarm him with projectiles, to the point they can be potentially lethal.
The Movie: Not a literal example, but the first game had a humorous billboard which said, "Stuff explodes in Wipe Out: The Movie!"
Multinational Team: FEISAR, the official team of United Europe, has headquarters in 12 countries. The games use the resulting inefficiency to explain why FEISAR's ships are so slow. Icaras, originally introduced as a British team in Wipeout 3, also becomes this in the later games.
Similarly, Assegai is the official team of the United African Nations, though it's unknown how many different nations the UAN spans.
The first unlockable Prototype: The Feisar Prototype, can exceed massive speed but it only speeds up when hitting speed pads.
Second unlockable: The Auricom Prototype. It deals a decent amount of damage and doesn't get slowed down or wipes out when hit by a weapon. It can't pick up defensive weapons though and if you aren't careful, you won't notice when your craft is on low energy.
Third unlockable: AG-Systems Prototype. Fast, ultra-agile and hard-hitting with ability to perform more powerful Double Barrel Roll, but has the weakest shielding in the game.
Fourth unlockable: Qirex Prototype. Sacrifices ability to pick up weapons for infinite Minigun that reloads itself every 2 seconds.
Final unlockable: Pir-Hana Prototype. The fastest ship in the game hands down, but cannot steer without airbrakes.
Nintendo Hard: The earlier games had a rather unforgiving learning curve. Wipeout HD is also considered by some to be the hardest in the series, but later patches introduced difficulty levels for those who struggled against the insane AI and speed.
The hardest two challenges in the series: untextured bonus track 4 on Phantom speed in Wipeout 3 (intended as an ultimate challenge, the AI is insanely fast here) and combo challenge 5 in Wipeout 64 (win a race on the hardest track in the game on the highest speed at the controls of a flying brick, and kill 7 opponents with your only weapon being your superweapon which is great at slowing down opponents but does almost no damage).
No Export for You: Wipeout Pulse got re-released for PS2 with all the Europe-exclusive DLC already installed and unlocked... in Europe. Stillno export
Granted, it was made for the European release to make up for the delay.
Nostalgia Level: Bonus and downloadable content tends to include track remakes from earlier games. Between every game (and including the mirrored and simplified track clones in Wipeout 64) the Altima track appeared four times; Talon's Reach, Gare d'Europa and Karbonis appeared three times.
Oddly Named Sequel: Just look at the list of game titles. Fusion added or changed a number of gameplay elements, while Pure was intended as a return to the series' roots.
2048 being a prequel, was titled after the year it takes place in.
Oh Crap: Enabled by the weapons announcer, which gives you just enough time to brace for impact but rarely enough time to actually dodge the incoming weapon if it can be dodged at all.
The Cryo Rocket weapon in Wipeout Fusion. Its most noticeable effect was that colliding with anything would take off half of your shield and getting hit with a weapon would destroy you instantly. If you didn't explode before you realised what was happening, you could survive by making absolutely no mistakes for the next ten seconds. Needless to say, the AI is much better at avoiding random collisions, making the weapon all but useless when the player is behind the crosshairs.
Prequel: 2048, the PSV launch title, takes place fifty years before the first game, before anti-gravity racing has become an established sport.
Product Placement: The first game has conspicuous advertising for Psygnosis' other titles. 2097 followed with a level of Red Bull ads that almost made it feel like a promotional game, on top of the pervasive signage devoted to the soundtrack artists. Later games have mostly parodied this trope through the placement of fictional advertisements for teams and race sponsors throughout the tracks in very conspicuous locations. (One ill-considered update to Wipeout HD added advertisements to loading screens, which were quickly removed after an Internet Backdraft, not least concerning the additional load time spent waiting for the ad.)
Fusion. Kappa ads.
For the uninformed, Kappa is a clothing store.
The Red Bull ads are almost Truth in Television, since the drink sponsors many "extreme" sports in the real world, so Anti Gravity racing would be right up their street. Also since 2097's release, Red Bull now sponsors not one but two Formula One teams.
Real Song Theme Tune: Some of the biggest names in the techno business have produced tracks for the game, ranging from The Prodigy to the Future Sound of London.
And Kraftwerk! And even Deadmau5 in 2048!!! And... Drum roll... They even had a song by arguably the world's best DJ, Tiesto, in Pure!
And Sasha, who produced four songs exclusively for Wip3out, named after the game's racing teams.
Rouge Angles of Satin: The team name "Piranha" from 2097 was somehow consistently turned into "Pirhana" in 3, and then changed back for Fusion.
Lampshaded when they realised their mistake: Pirhana is supposedly a merger of the teams "Pir" and "Hana".
Rule of Cool: The Quake Disruptor sends a massive ripple down the track, damaging all opponents that it hits. It would be completely unworkable in real life, but it's certainly impressive.
The premise of the game itself.
Secret Craft: Prototype crafts are technically this. You need to pass a certain level, find the event on the event map, and complete it.
We Care: "Let's be friends!" is AG Systems' slogan in Wipeout 3.
What Could Have Been: The original version of Fusion was quite different. Psygnosis had developed the game using high-powered PCs as they did not receive the Ps2 dev kits on time, assuming the Emotion Engine could handle it. It turned out the two architectures were completely incompatible and this early version had to be scrapped.
Wipeout XL ditched the first game's pseudo-realistic homogenized, decaled ship designs in favor of a more sci-fi look.
When The Designers Republic left the series, Fusion had a radically different visual style by a different design group which was not well recieved by long-term fans. Pure fixed this by returning to a style closer to Wipeout.
The vehicles in Wipeout HD's Fury expansion pack are... quite different. (They look more like seperated part attached to each other to form up the ship. Unlike preceeding Wipeout where ships look more solid.)
Goteki45's ship in Pure is unlike either of their other appearances, and was the most unusual design that was included in the basic game.
Happens once again in Wipeout 2048 with AG crafts more streamlined. Justified that the game settings take place earlier than most of Wipeout games.
The craft in the video featured also resembles a piece of Wipeout concept art that's been doing the rounds since 3, so it might also be a case of technology catching up with the artists visions.