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Wipeout 2
Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Behaviour Interactive
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Action/ Party

Graphics & Sound:
Wipeout 2 is not a pretty game. Even though it is on the PS3, it looks more like an early PS2 game, to be honest. The tracks themselves look about right, based on what I know of the show. I can't say if they are exact duplicates of what you might find if you were a contestant, but at least the giant red balls (or Big Balls, as the hosts like to say over and over) look correct. The various characters you have to choose from are just that - true characters in every sense of the word. You've got an emo teenager, a suburban princess, an elderly lady (who likes to push you out of the way, mind you), a redneck hillbilly and more. As you play the game, you will unlock many more characters, including all three hosts and producer Matt Kunitz, people in a chicken suit, a cow suit, a monkey suit and a robot suit, to name just a few. Each character has sounds that they utter when they take a Wipeout hit, but I think I found the robot and the monkey to be the most entertaining.

I am not a viewer of the Wipeout television show, but from what I can tell, John Anderson, John Henson and Jill Wagner look like their on-screen counterparts. They also reprise their respective roles and naturally, they sound right. However, the two Johns repeat their one-liners way too much. The repetition is so bad that, at one point, the pair even comment on it, giving the reason being that it is a video game and their brains are pixilated, or some such foolishness. There is some background music playing, but it's just that - background noise. You'll here sound effects like air horns when you get to a new area of the track, but for the most part, what you'll hear is the repetitive statements the hosts make. It actually really detracts from the game a good bit and it's annoying.

The concept of the gameplay is pretty simple, but actually being successful at it is much harder. Your goal is to get through the various tracks and elimination rounds, just as you would on the Wipeout show, and to be the fastest at doing this to win the competition. There are a total of 8 tracks to play, 4 Summer tracks and 4 Winter tracks (with more supposedly unlockable, but I played all 8 levels and didn't unlock any more, although I unlocked all of the playable characters). When you first begin the game, only Track 1 - Summer and Track 5 - Winter are open to you (basically the first in each season), but when you complete a track, the next one opens up.

When playing on Single Player, a track consists of you getting through the Qualifier Round, then going through the Elimination Round, the Final Four, then racing one other person to the end of the track in the Wipeout Zone. The Qualifier Round will have you doing various things like trying to run down a path without getting pushed into the muddy water by huge fists or cartoon dogs that come out; trying to avoid being smashed by giant hammers or pushed off the ledge by various pistons and things that block your way. You might have to balance yourself on "the screwdriver" which puts obstacles in your path as you try and stay on top of the rotating bar. The worst is having to jump onto the Big Balls, those giant red bouncy balls that make you faceplant into the side of them and go careening into the water. The Elimination Round has you and the three other contestants standing in their allotted spot as a device spins around and they must either jump up or crouch down to avoid being knocked off their pedestal. The Final Four pits you against the other three, but after a dizzying spin on a merry-go-round of doom, only the top two seem to make it for the actual run. The gameplay here is more frustrating because both players are shown on the screen at the same time. When your player gets knocked into the water, it seems random where they are reset and drop out of the sky to keep playing. Consequently, you couldn't reliably predict where your player was going to reappear and a lot of the times, he'd fall straight into the water, only to go through it all again. This costs you time as you are being clocked in the process, and it was annoying. In the Two Player Mode, each player gets their own time in the sun, as if it were a Single Player game, they just take turns, at least until they get to the Final Four and the Wipeout Zone. There is also a Practice Mode if you want to work on specific tracks or areas.

The difficulty in Wipeout 2 comes from the rough controls of the PS Move and also from the tracks themselves. I find myself waggling that Move controller and looking quite insane while I am playing, with my character doing death-defying physics not humanly possible. There is no way a person can jump towards the Big Balls and then jump backwards, landing back on the ramp. It just doesn't happen. Because of these oddball physics and the fact that my character would sometimes take a flying leap to nowhere all on their own, the game was difficult. The areas don't have a selectable difficulty, though.

As for the tracks, just like in the real show, the Big Balls are just awful and although they aren't impossible to best, they are close. The Sinister Snowflakes are also really difficult because, at first, I didn't realize your character could walk backwards by pressing the Squiggle button on the Move and unless you are constantly readjusting where you are, you will fall off. There's plenty of trickery to be found here. Because of the slipperyness of the icy areas, the Winter tracks tended to be more challenging.

Game Mechanics:
Wipeout 2 uses the PS Move controller, but you can also use a game controller. I will warn you that using a game controller takes all of the fun out of the game, although you will easily roll through the tracks. Using the PS Move, I was able to run through all 8 levels in about an hour and a half, although I will admit to skipping a handful of areas that were really frustrating because the game will let you skip a troublesome area by pressing (Triangle). Using the controller, I was able to do a full run of the Wipeout Zone in 57 seconds, whereas with the Move, it took about 4 minutes. In other words, it was a breeze and much easier to control. But this game isn't a Call of Duty or a Batman game where you get the fun purely from the gameplay. The fun you derive from Wipeout 2 comes because you have a hard time controlling your character and you are making a total fool out of yourself. As I was playing the game, I was so frustrated by the control (or lack of control, I should say) that I experienced the sudden onset of Tourette Syndrome while playing, obvious by the constant torrent of curse words flowing from my mouth. But then J.R. Nip called something to my attention - I was having fun, and he was right. Silly fun, but fun nonetheless.

You'll flick the Move up to jump and down to crouch. You'll rotate it to retain your balance and move it from side to side to advance in the areas where you are dodging fists coming out of the wall. The trigger button is used to walk and run, but I found that often, in the heat of the moment, I would accidentally press the PS button, almost quitting the game. This happened alot and was a constant source of frustration.

I can see families having a good time with this game, even if it means passing the Move back and forth because only two players can play at a time. But based on the lower quality graphics and the fact that the game is so short, it's simply not worth the $60 that it is currently selling for. I see this as more of a good pickup if you can catch it on sale for $20 or even as a weekend rental, since the game is so quick to beat. You'll get some fun out of it, but it probably won't hold your kids' interest for an extended period of time, so keep that in mind.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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