I bought two futuristic racers in one bulk for a good price. With XG3: Extreme-G Racing I got Wipeout Fusion. As you can already tell, Wipeout was my primary target. With recent release of Wipeout Omega Collection (which is still waiting for me to play it at the time of writing) I had to get Fusion as well. The last part I’ve played is Wipeout 3 on PSX. Fusion presents several changes to the core gameplay as well as in track design. Changes give me mixed feelings.
As always you are participating in a futuristic races with jets at insane speeds. Right at the start you can notice one thing. Iconic classes were replaced with upgrade system. As you progress through the game you will earn cash you can spend on upgrading selected jet. If you think you can customize it the way you want, you are wrong. Changes are drastic and without saving proportions in stats your jet may become very hard to handle. The difference between basic and fully upgraded jet is like between vector and rapier class in previous game. That’s where you get the speed. On top of that, once you upgrade a single jet to a certain level you gain access to the second pilot (they are really ugly by the way). Why? I don’t know. You can upgrade them more, but it starts slower than your previous. Odd solution if you ask me.
Another change is in the core gameplay. No more turbo which burns your energy. I really liked that feature and at first I thought it is a big shame. Later… the game appears to be much more aggressive than previously. AI is merciless and there will be multiple races where half of the enemies are eliminated. That means, that if the turbo was here, you wouldn’t be able to use it without dying. Jets also have different shield values.
Weapons are very effective here and there are a few new ones. Special mention for gray stinger and gravity bomb, which causes jets to collapse to the ground, making them stop completely. Very annoying once you get hit by one. Autopilot got a severe downgrade, because it sucks to the point, where you will drive much safer than it. All other weapons like missile, plasma bolt, mines and quake remained unchanged, making carnage on the track enjoyable as always. Except you and AI are treated equally, making armed battle more interesting, so as I said, expect to be one of those blown up.
The game has multiple modes to enjoy. There are standard arcade, league and time trial mode, as well as challenge mode, where you have to complete a special task, for example surviving plenty of laps (no pit stop) or eliminations. There is also one new, very interesting mode. Zone is an endurance mode, where you pilot a special jet with constant throttle (yes, you don’t have press X). As you go, this jet will go faster and faster until you crash. Amazing mode, which tests your limits and it is here, where you can experience the highest speed in Wipeout Fusion. You can complete tracks one by one and for advancing you need at least achieve speed level 30. I love the idea!
Wipeout Fusion has a lot of tracks, which is both good and bad. Bad, because most advanced tracks are overdesigned with asymetrical splits and closing gates. I got a gate closed on my face a few times! However, I like the track, where’s a gravity change pad, which makes you go on the up side down part of the track. First time, I was completely confused what’s going on. Now I treat it as a great gimmick, especially when you can see pilots under you… above… whatever.
Music is a standard Wipeout quality with loads of electronic tunes fitting into the game as always. No licensed music this time, unfortunately. Really, it is hard to say anything more.
In conclusion, Wipeout Fusion would be an improvement over the previous one if there wouldn’t be this upgrade system. It gives the game little replayability, because it makes your opponents easy to beat and without upgrades the game loses its signature speed. A good old class system is the best and it gives you worthy opponents. However, if you played later league races or with non upgraded jet, expect a very aggressive game. The jets disappoint too. One can be significantly better than the other. Piranha has everything maxed, while poor Feisar has to go with half of it. This makes a choice rather one sided. My favorite part of Wipeout Fusion is the Zone mode, which can be the most challenging mode in the game. For a very low price, definitely a game to pick up for a single walkthrough… and the Zone mode.