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Wipeout Omega Collection VR Review: PSVR’s Tour De Force

by Jamie Feltham • March 29th, 2018
Platform: PSVR
Positives

- Breathes new life into already-excellent gameplay
- Super polished presentation and comfort settings
- More content than most VR games

Negatives

- Slightly harder to get to grips with in VR

Wipeout has gotten so good at being, well, good that it’s almost not worth reviewing it. As if using one of its own Auto Pilot power-ups, the series has perfectly steered from sequel to sequel over the past 23 years, rarely putting a foot wrong. Where Gran Turismo 5 stalled, for example, PS3’s Wipeout HD sped on past. And, when PS Vita launched, 2048 set the bar for all games to come. Now, fresh off the lukewarm reception to Gran Turismo Sport’s PSVR support, it’s back to do it all over again.

It is worth telling you just how brilliant Wipeout Omega Collection is in VR, though, because it obviously isn’t just another Wipeout game. This is the Wipeout you dreamed of all the way back in 1995: intuitive, accessible, visceral, thrilling, elative racing that’s brought front and center by rooting you in the immediacy of VR. Unsurprisingly, it’s sure to go down as one of if not the best games for Sony’s headset yet.

The stuff you probably know, then; the Omega Collection has actually been available for a little under a year. It gathers elements of the last three games in the series (HD, Fury, and 2048) under one roof to create an exhaustive package with 26 tracks, 46 ships models (with another three added in VR) and nine game modes. All of this content can be accessed inside the new PSVR support, which arrives as a free update for everyone that owns it.

Right from the off, then, you have easily one of PSVR’s biggest games to date. Wipeout’s single-player content alone is enough to keep you busy for some time, with essentially three campaigns to play through. It’s a refreshing departure from the trend of offering stripped back versions of original games in VR (see Gran Turismo Sport, L.A. Noire: The VR Case Files, and Doom VFR). Frankly, the game could offer half the content that’s included here and it would still be an easy recommendation.

That’s largely thanks to just how polished Wipeout is in VR. Though you can play from the more traditional third-person perspective, this is the first Wipeout game that really feels at home in the cockpit view, delivering that same kind of fantastical curiosity you experienced when you first jumped into a ship in EVE: Valkyrie, or found yourself in the driver’s seat of DriveClub VR. On paper, it’s all very similar; you still speed around tracks, air braking around tight corners and memorizing individual layouts of each event, then trying to hit as many speed pads and weapon pick up points on repeat laps as you weave in and out of shortcuts and highways.

Races are arguably a little harder in VR, though, should you settle for the cockpit view. It’s harder to spot points of interest, for example, and you’ll need better reaction times than the standard third-person camera. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; the trade-off is an experience that feels more authentic and convincing than it ever has (if anything, the trademark satisfaction of the perfect drift is only heightened in VR), and those slight disadvantages vanish once familiarity sets in. That said, it definitely took me longer to settle into the game’s groove than I did with, say, 2048.

Other mission types only benefit from the conversion, though. For example, Wipeout’s VR support is at its most ferocious when you unlock weapons. In the past, firing a plasma blast or sending off a swarm of missiles has had an almost Mario Kart-like quality to it. In VR, though, those playful games of tag turn into a war zone; hearing the rattle of machine gun fire shoot down the track or finding yourself caught in the middle of a quake blast has a newfound urgency that makes the kill-focused Combat missions an unexpected highlight.

In fact, the game’s immersion can be so potent that it often feels like it’s scratching the ceiling of what’s possible with PSVR, to the point where I caught myself momentarily wondering why my seat wasn’t violently shaking with every rough landing or sharp turn. It’s best played loud, too; the game’s tried and true soundtrack provides the perfect beats to nod along to as you skid around corners like you’re piloting your very own nightclub.

All of this would be for naught if the game didn’t have exhaustive comfort options, though. Wipeout’s races aren’t afraid to throw you from side-to-side and shoot you round corners, all of which could be daunting for even the most experienced of VR users. Fortunately Sony XDev has clearly spent a long time making the game as accessible as possible. Aside from the previously-mentioned third-person view, you can fix the camera in certain ways inside the cockpit. You can make sure it’s always level to help your stomach avoid knots or, if you’re up for it, attach it to your pilot for a 1:1 experience. Smartly, you can also opt to corner off your cockpits peripheral vision a little, limiting your field of view slightly while maintaining immersion. There are still probably going to be people that can’t stomach it, but XDev has done as good a job as it can here.

Ultimately, it’s hard to say a bad thing about the package, though an argument could be made for the need to experience something genuinely new. Some of the tracks are technically being reused for the third time over considering HD mixes some of the older games in the series. Still, I challenge you to take any of them for a spin in VR and not come away feeling like you’ve experienced something very different from what’s come before.

Final Score: 9/10 – Amazing

Wipeout VR is an eccentric mix of new and old; a series delivering on the same kind of regular reliability it has for over two decades but from an entirely fresh perspective. Everything you love about Wipeout is here but with a new lease of life, from the violent crunch of combat to the twitch-like reactions needed to navigate the many courses from the seat of your vehicle. It’s both Wipeout as you love it and as you’ve never seen it before, and one of the very best games you can get on PSVR yet.

Wipeout Omega Collection is available now for $39.99 and the PSVR support is available as a free patch. Read our Game Review Guidelines for more information on how we arrived at this score. 

 

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