|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCEE Liverpool||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEE (SONY)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 (2-8 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The best way to describe WipEout Pulse is as a marriage between two of my favorite franchises: Mario Kart and F-Zero. I know this sounds a little awkward, but let me explain. F-Zero is a futuristic racing series that is pretty fun. The only trouble with this series is that most people find it way too difficult to play, and most F-Zero titles seem inaccessible to most average gamers. That is where the Mario Kart comes in. Mario Kart is known for its approachable and fun gameplay. This marriage may seem a little strange at first, but once the awkward phase is through you'll find yourself rather addicted to the joy that is WipEout Pulse.
Much like the other WipEout games, WipEout Pulse has a vast array of ways to play. The main mode of the game features different "grids," which represent subsequently more difficult tracks. You have four main levels, each with their own racing teams and stages. Tracks are shared between the different levels, but because there are so many different ways to play the tracks don't seem repetitive. Tracks also feature boost pads and special weapons that you can pick up. The weapons selector is generic and completely random (much like the question boxes in Mario Kart), and you never know whether you'll get a short supply of mines or a giant laser that zaps the energy out of your opponents.
Gameplay, as I mentioned before, is very accessible for a futuristic racer. That is not to say, however, that this game is easy. The game features speeds up to 700 MPH and tracks with steep hairpin turns. You'll probably have to play through different levels multiple times before you get the hang of each level. But once you learn how to take the turns and find where all the different power-ups are, you'll master the different courses in no time.
WipEout Pulse also features several different ways to race to keep the gameplay engaging. Of course you have your straight-up races where you and up to seven other opponents vie for the top spot. These races are probably the most exhilarating because you need a combination of speed and weaponry for success. But as fun as this mode may be, even I can admit it is a little generic. The most novel of the new modes is a survival type mode where your car is constantly upgrading speed levels and you have to clear different course "zones" and see how far and how fast you can survive.
Another hallmark of WipEout Pulse's gameplay is its speed class system. This system features different race teams that can race at different speeds. Although this might sound a little weird, it is surprising how much the different speed classes change the gameplay. When you are racing with a very high speed class, weapons become unimportant, and aggressive driving becomes a moot pursuit. But when you're driving in a slower speed class, the opposite becomes true. In order to speed past the competition, you will have to drive aggressively and utilize all your boost and weaponry power to your advantage.