Of all the dormant racing game franchises — and there are many — Wipeout’s absence feels the most criminal. Developers at Sony’s long-defunct Studio Liverpool arguably never put a foot wrong throughout the anti-gravity racing series’ history, so long as you consider 2002's Wipeout Fusion a worthy aside rather than an aberration. Regardless, Wipeout is great. I miss it every day.
That’s precisely why this remake of the intro from the first Wipeout by artist Benjamin Brosdau is so bittersweet. Brosdau has recreated the game’s memorable opening cinematic, from the Designers’ Republic title card forever etched in my brain, to the robots tinkering on one of the crafts and of course the starting grid preparations. The music, composed by Tim Wright, a.k.a. Cold Storage, is suitably intact as well.
The last entry in the Wipeout saga, if you could call it that, was 2017's Omega Collection. A compilation of Wipeout HD and Fury on the PlayStation 3 and Wipeout 2048 on the PS Vita, Omega Collection was a respectable refinement of the series’ final era. That said, it could never sate the need for a new experience, nor did it tap into Wipeout’s PS1 glory days, which were grittier and a bit more sharp-witted, owing to the Designers’ Republic’s anti-establishment bent.
It would have been lovely to see a remake of Wipeout 2097 in particular, considering the sequel is generally regarded as more superior on account of its myriad quality-of-life improvements. Personally, I’d be pining for a Wipeout 3 remake. In addition to simply being an excellent racing game, the third iteration remains a paragon of visual and sound design that I don’t feel has been matched in the genre since.
Brosdau’s work allows us to visualize revisiting those early games. The city flyover through the buildings and trees toward the grid has me salivating at how a new Wipeout — particularly with this aesthetic rather than what we saw in the HD era — would look like backed by the power of the PS5.
If you need a reminder of precisely how far we’ve come, here’s what the first game’s entirely pre-rendered intro looked like back in 1995. (If you can even see it, that is. Much of it is frustratingly dark.)
One of the elements that made Wipeout so captivating was its deep lore, and the meticulous approach with which Studio Liverpool and TDR imagined racing in the future. The vast majority of games within this subgenre, like Nintendo’s F-Zero, typically opt for a more fantastical, comic-book approach to characters and stories, but Wipeout was different. It felt like an evolution of our world, and therefore, an evolution of modern-day motorsport. More importantly, it felt like a world that theoretically could exist.
Each team in the series had its own written canon and distinct identity, rife with politics, acquisitions and allusions to the kind of corporate bullshit that makes stuff like Formula 1 Drive To Survive so enthralling to budding racing nerds. Expert art direction from TDR couched these teams as extremely unique from one and another, born out of contrasting cultures. The same way that you’d never confuse Red Bull and Ferrari, you’d never mistake Feisar and Piranha.
Hell, it’s little wonder why every single person who held a PlayStation controller in 1995 immediately recognized the influence behind F1's comprehensive rebranding in 2017, led by Wieden+Kennedy London’s Richard Turley. It was the logical conclusion of life imitating art, which had only amplified life in the first place. Courtesy of Creative Review:
In terms of influences on the project, Turley name-checks the work of the Designer’s Republic and the Pre-Op Art graphics of Italian designer, Franco Grignani, whose work was exhibited across two London exhibitions this year. The tDR mention is interesting as the identity (logo and type included) certainly shares an aesthetic with the sci-fi racing world that the studio designed for the classic mid-90s video game, Wipeout.
And you can’t honor Wipeout’s contribution to the more aesthetic side of motorsport without mentioning its soundtrack. From Cold Storage’s original music in the first installment and Sega Saturn port of 2097, to all the songs from licensed artists propelling the U.K. club scene in the ’90s, like Orbital, Underworld and Sasha, Wipeout represented a cultural moment that racing just happened to be a part of. So much so that concerned politicians alleged the uppercase “E” in the game’s logotype was a playful wink to ecstasy.
Some will argue that moment’s long since passed, and Wipeout already left its mark. But witnessing creations like this remade intro rekindle a longing to return to that place, and fuel fans’ dreams that with today’s technology, Wipeout’s universe could be fleshed out to a degree unimaginable when the first game was being developed 25 years ago.