The gameplay remains roughly the same. That is, the tried and true mix of precision navigation, twisting and rolling tracks, and hi-tech weaponry are all here and feel wonderfully fine-tuned. Still present is also the punishing difficulty found the original. The Wipeout games don’t exactly ease you into things. New players and those vets who are a little rusty will be spanked pretty hard by the aggressive (and rubberbanding) AI. Once you learn the tracks and become one with the steering conventions, you’ll quickly begin to appreciate Wipeout Pulse’s level of polish in the controls. The single-player campaign mode is where Pulse really takes off running. Instead of a linear set of races, Pulse’s campaign is based around a grid of different kinds of challenges. Passing a given challenge can open up several new ones. Even if you’re stuck on a particular event, there’s usually something new to try. Basic races, tournaments, head-to-head challenges, and time trials are still the bread and butter of the game. Thankfully, the trance-inducing “zone” mode returns the series. In this mode, your craft moves through the course at increasingly faster speeds until you run out of shield or vomit from motion sickness. There is also an “elimination” mode where your skills in combat, not speed, are put to the test. New to the series is the concept of team loyalty where players who stick with one racing team are awarded loyalty points which eventually unlock new skins and craft to pilot.
The visuals in Wipeout Pulse are a subtle improvement over Pure. Interestingly, the opponent AI appears a lot more aggressive which makes for a much more interesting race. The techno music is, as always, present. Whether that’s a good thing or not depends on your ability to stomach that kind of thing.
To be sure, the whole quasi-futuristic art design in Wipeout Pulse (and every other Wipeout game ever made) is beginning to feel more quaint than cool. It’s a rock solid racer that knows what the fans want. New players might be put off by the learning curve. For Wipeout aficionados, however, we recommend getting your fingers on the Pulse as soon as you can.
• Tight controls
• Great racing campaign
• Online play
• Steep learning curve