WIPEOUT FUSION / Sony / PS2
 
 
Wipeout Fusion was the first (and as it turned out, only) game of the series to jump to the next generation from its PS1 roots. Prior to playing this one I've only ever played the very first one, but it was a rough experience that aged pretty badly, and my hope was that with PS2 Power the game could realize its potential of being a worthy rival to F-Zero in the "futuristic magnetic-track hovercar" racing genre. The answer with this installment is, "almost, but not quite."

The game certainly looks better, though on the whole not impressive compared to other PS2 games of the 2004 time-frame. It handles a little better, with much wider tracks and a greater number of cars (plus a proper starting line rather than just having 7 other cars starting way ahead of you for some reason.) But it still has too much of that irritating "stop and go" feel as you constantly decelerate by hitting obstacles, side walls, other racers, or just being shot from behind by some asshole (since there's guns and missiles aplenty laying all over the tracks.) Thus the sense of speed never even comes close to approximating that of F-Zero X.

The other thing that really honks me off about this one is the "shield" system. Basically, you have a shield (durability varies by car type), and when it runs out, you Asplode and the race is over for you. This isn't the greatest system in a game where you are almost constantly either colliding with something or taking a bullet up your bum. I found far more of my races ended prematurely due to getting Assploded than any other possible conclusion.

The end result is, as with the first Wipeout, I feel like the game is expecting some sort of robotically perfect level of precision steering to even begin to get anywhere. Otherwise it's all just constant slowdowns and getting your shit blown up. On the whole this entry is still an OK weapons-centric racer, but give me F-Zero any day of the week over it.
 
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