Review: WipeOut Pulse

By Mike on 10:44 pm

Filed Under: ,

Another PSP game up for review. The PSP has no shortage of racing games. Most in my opinion are crap with a couple of exceptions. This time around it's WipeOut Pulse. Remember Star Wars: Episode 1 Racer where you screamed across the track on an anti-gravity vehicle at speeds reaching 600km/h. That was my introduction to anti-gravity racing. WipeOut Pluse reminded me a lot of the N64 classic though the racing is much faster, plus you can literally blow your opponents off the track. Pulse is the sixth in the WipeOut series, minus a couple spinoffs. It first appeared on the PS1 back in 1995 and it first appeared on the PSP in 2005 in a title called Pure. Both these games are available on PSN for download if you want to try them. Since I had never owned a Playstation console until recently, Pulse is my first venture into this series.
Similar to the rest of the series, Pulse contains several changes from its predecessor. It includes 24 new tracks, 8 new ships, a new sound track, and ad-hoc & infrastructure multiplayer. Also new is custom sound tracks, custom ship skins, and the ability to take screen shots through the new photo mode.

As I said, Pulse is an anti-gravity racer. The game itself takes place in 2207. You are a pilot in the FX400 Anti-Gravity Racing League. In the game, you skim above the surface of a track. There's obviously less traction so in these types of games, you can quickly loose control. The action is a lot faster paced than most conventional on-road/off-road racers. It requires fast reflexes to navigate the tracks safely without smashing into things. The other obstacle is that your opponents have weapons al la Mario Kart. There are several weapons and power-ups available including shield boosters, speed boosters, rockets, and bombs. Your craft is equipped with a deflector shield that protects you from collisions or enemy weapons. The strength of the shield depends on the ship you're flying. Each craft's performance is determined by four categories: speed, acceleration, handling, and shield strength. You have all eight craft available right from the start. There is no ultimate racer and there are trade-offs for certain abilities. There is a loyalty system that awards bonuses for using one racer more often than the others.

In the races themselves, there are four speed classes. Venom is for beginners. It lasts three laps and reaches top speeds of 462km/h. Flash, Rapier, and Phantom classes are the higher levels in that order. They get increasingly faster and feature more laps; up to five laps at 793km/h for Phantom. Race types include single race, head-to-head, tournament, time trial, speed lap, zone, and eliminator. The first four are self-explanatory. Speed lap involves getting the fastest lap time in a series of laps. Zone is extremely fast paced with all racer stats maxed out. The computer increases the speed for each 10 second zone you complete. The goal is to survive as long as possible, which is harder than it sounds. Eliminator is a race for kills in which you need to eliminate a set number of opponents. Races are managed through a grid system in career mode. There is also a custom race mode for single races.
The tracks themselves are challenging but unlike many racers of this type, they don't feature many environmental obstacles. It's you versus your opponents. Still, at the speeds these races reach, it becomes difficult to avoid crashing into the walls. Pulse has a new "mag-strip" system on the tracks, where your racer magnetically sticks to the surface. This allows for for new track features such as loops and 90-degree drops.
Controls are pretty tight for the PSP. The analogue stick steers the craft. You can also use it to pitch or role the craft while in mid-air during jumps. The shoulder buttons control the breaks. There's a left or right break or you can hit both buttons for full break. Tapping the break button twice allows you to slide the racer to the left or right. X button is your acceleration. Square allows you to use a weapon while Circle transfers your obtained weapon's energy to the shields for a quick defense boost. Triangle allows you to look behind you.

For graphics, Pulse is one of the best looking games I've seen on the PSP so far. The racers and tracks are colourful and crisp. Visuals are fast and there are no frame rate issues. It really shows what the PSP is capable of. The game allows you to change your view point between two third person views, as well as first person. The audio is pretty good as well. The game features a licensed sound track, though I haven't heard of any of the bands featured. The music is from the Electronica genre which I never listen too. If Euro club music is not your cup of tea, the game allows you to make your own custom sound tracks. You can play up to 30 custom songs stored on your Memory Stick. The drawback however is that you have to create a WipeOut folder in your music library and manually put the songs in there. This is a little clumsy in my opinion since it should recognize all songs stored in the PSP's Music folder. You will need to connect your PSP to a computer in order to set this up.
One last note on customization, Sony offers expansion packs for Pulse on PSN, just like they did for Pure. You can download these for more tracks or ships. There's also supposedly a flash based custom skin creator on

What else can I say about WipeOut. It's definitely worth looking at if you like sci-fi racing or just racing in general. It's probably the best racing game created for the PSP so far. A plus is that's it's relatively cheap at $29.99. It will definitely tie you over until Gran Turismo is ever released for the PSP. A PS3 version known as WipeOut HD is also coming this year. Lets get to the rankings.

What Works:
-Colourful, technically proficient graphics, fast paced with no frame rate issues
-Tight controls
-Challenging races with different play modes
-Customizable music and skins, expansion packs.

What doesn't:
-Customizable sound track setup clumsy.

Rating: 9 out of 10

0 comments for this post