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Publisher: Virtual Programming    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 333 MHz    RAM: 64 MB    Hard Disk: 132 MB

WipeOut 2097
June 14, 2002 | Chris Barylick

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I always wanted to be a zero-gravity racer, no matter who you ask or what medications they claim I might have stolen from them. The thrill of obscenely fast speeds, the premise of blazing, instantaneous death for both myself and the innocent bystanders in the stands, the superfluous weapons of death and destruction available at the push of a button… Sadly, this dream has gone to pot since NASA decided to waste its ever-dwindling budget in non-zero-gravity-death-sports-related research, grad school seeming like a reasonable second career path.

If you can’t get your fix one way, there’s usually a substitute somewhere down the line. For the wannabe futuristic death-racer crowd, WipeOut 2097, developed by Psygnosis, ported to the Mac by Coderus Ltd. and published by Virtual Programming, might just fit the bill.

Speed Racer Redux:
Race like hell, use whatever weapons you can to the best of your ability, try not to crash and see if you can’t place decently. That’s the basic premise to WipeOut 2097, a game that may lack all the bells and whistles of other racing titles, but proves itself to be just as enjoyable as its competition.

Open the game, specify a racer, a track and a difficulty setting and you’re off into the futuristic blue yonder. WipeOut 2097 loads quickly, presenting a status grid and humming right along both on a G3 or a G4. Finally, let the camera wrap around the track, select your racer of choice and you’re free to happily tear down the track at breakneck speeds. Beat each of the primary tracks for each of the three skill levels and the game opens up the Arcade Challenge maps, which function as an elimination level. For each Arcade Challenge map, the player must place fourth or better on what amounts to nothing less than an extremely challenging track replete with trigger-happy opponents just itching to inflict projectile death on your little-racer-that-could. Fail to make the fourth place cutoff mark three times and the game disqualifies you from the remaining Arcade Challenge maps, effectively ending the game. Thankfully, a pause allows players to take a break if you’re in the middle of a campaign to beat the game.

A self-explanatory load and save scheme allows players to save up to eight games and load them at will, something that makes the game easier to share among several people dipping in and out as they do other things.

Time Trial mode is an option in which the game offers its generic maps in an opponent-free timed mode, recording the best times to beat. As simple as it sounds, this mode allows players to compete for the best times, but makes the weapons unavailable, as only the thrust item can be picked up and used. On the plus side, this teaches players that the game can’t be entirely won by holding down the “Thrust” key, some braking has to be used to hit the hairpin turn coming up around the next bend…


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