It was the stylisation of Wipeout before its insatiable momentum that first cast the mind back to that shimmering cover of purple and silver, encased safely within the clouded plastic clasp befitting many of those classic PlayStation originals. The logos of Feisar, Qirex and Auricom conjured up memories of suspect allegiances and rampant team hopping, with my younger self caught simply trying to attain to the quickest, most eye-catching ship for which to hit the most perilous jumps at the highest of speeds.
First place didn’t matter so as long as I could free my fingers from the buttons for that split-second of hang-time as the ship’s gravity locks loosened from the track and cut through the air. The Omega Collection it seems, has only succeeded in reaffirming what young me could only then express in gleeful glances across the room toward my equally bemused father. Now though, the hull of each ship is smoother, the tracks glossier and the fiery laser pulses that little bit brighter than they have ever been before. The Omega Collection is future perfect, and the glowing world of Wipeout has never felt more alive.
It’s the slick, uncompromising design ethos of the Omega Collection that aptly forms the basis for its purpose: not just a retelling, but a reinvigoration where the means are available to allow Wipeout a fittingly modernised treatment. It’s high definition and 4K that emboldens the visual fidelity of the shining neon placards and the worn-down metallic liveries; a solid 60 frames-per-second to rein in the ferocity of the unintelligibly high speeds and unfathomable heights. And the same heart-thumping rhythm laced with a select few new sounds that feel born of the same fires from which the original house-infused soundtrack was sourced.
From the opening menu, the Omega Collection delights with its fittingly sleek aesthetic, favouring a flat design of monotone grey and white against the rolling crimson cursor and cut-down menus. Clean transitions and phenomenally quick loading times lend a lot to exemplifying the distilled direction in which the Omega Collection has no doubt favoured. You’re never overawed by an overabundance of choices or detractions, just ushered to your chosen pantheon and urged to floor the throttle with all your might.
Wipeout retains all of the visual distinctiveness of the originals within the Omega Collection, now realised as immaculately honed versions of the somewhat muddied designs that came before. The future that celebrates the Anti-Gravity Racing Championship as its leading automotive sport is a colourful and vivid world that glistens with the illumination of whirring advertisements against the backdrop of twilight and blossoming sunbeams at the height of daytime. And the game’s visual identity extends to each of its tracks, which, whilst remaining in-keeping with existing design philosophies, all boast remarkable individuality. Not simply confined to adjustments in shape, the circuits within the Omega Collection – just like the racing teams and the locations within the world – all have enough of an inbuilt identity to turn a glance at a course name into an instantaneous recounting of its sights and sounds just as much as its every straight and hairpin. ‘Sol’ trades a worn, rust-like industrial plane for a flawless swathe of suspended glass. And of course, it trades the surety of a race on the ground for a death-defying joust thousands of feet in the air.
EVERY FRACTION OF A SECOND CUT FROM YOUR LAP IS ITS OWN VICTORY
Even amidst the chaos of weapon fire and two crafts gnawing each other into a hail of sparks, Wipeout remains a game of purity. Racing in Wipeout is tremendously unforgiving, and as a result, knowledge of your chosen track is just as much of a prerequisite as taking the right line in order to hit every boost pad as well as hoping that you draw a shield power-up to counteract your opponent’s incoming missile. Combat races are where havoc reigns as lap times and podium finishes go right out the window, but finesse thankfully triumphs beyond them. Zone Battles turn the track into a synthetic colour simulation in which your craft gradually increases in speed as you progress, while Detonator utilises a similar environment to host a deathly obstacle course. Time Trials remove all opponents from the mix and ask you to pick the best ship for crossing the finish before the allotted time expires, and though Eliminator may parallel most evidently with typical Combat races, it leans on survivability far more.
By selecting the Wipeout ‘Race Box’, you can freely delve into any of the tracks and race types offered up by the trio of games housed within the collection, but it’s likely the Campaign mode that will take up the majority of your initial hours with the game. Accompanying HD, Fury and 2048 are several seasons of action spread across every circuit type and race variation. Along your career path, you’ll inherit an individual season ranking as well as the means to unlock many of the games previously unobtainable ships for use both in and out of Campaign competition. But most importantly, it’s within the Wipeout Campaign that uncultured finger movements will be eroded away and muscle memory will become favourably nurtured. It’s Campaign that turns a would-be pilot from a tentative deliberator into an indiscernible wake of air and speed.
The essence of Wipeout is unassailable speed, and within the Omega Collection, that principle lives on untouched. It exists in the chaining of a perfect line of boost pads without missing a single one; the freeing of the ship from the shackles of the track by striking a jump at a ridiculous pace with a flock of racers either side of you; finishing in first place with no opponent in sight, only to see that your closest rival finished less than a hundredth of a second behind you. It’s satisfying successfully executing all that you’ve come to learn, utilising every facet of Wipeout’s arsenal of movement to propel yourself away from potential wrecks and past pursuing opponents. It’s a little disheartening though when the boundaries of certain tracks have a tendency to negate all of your momentum and have you fumbling for the reset option as the rest of the pack flies past you.
The Omega Collection prides itself on being the quintessential guide to Wipeout – a game that condenses the history of a franchise there since the beginning, but also celebrates its present place within a console generation that seems to revel in higher frame rates and crisper resolutions. The Omega Collection profits in the aesthetic sense, dilating the pupils with its gleaming lights and crystalline brilliance. But it also succeeds beyond simply looking the part. The Omega Collection isn’t just eye candy, but rather a reminder of the fervent speed and time-chasing that the Anti-Gravity Racing Championship still boasts as its most inimitable hook.
The omega in the moniker may imply an end, but an otherwise uncertain future for Wipeout is steadied by the strength of its present – and the Omega Collection is the ideal bible of everything that Wipeout has ever been.