The tracks put a pretty serious emphasis on hairpin turns, and mastering the air brake controls is critical for swinging around the many sharp turns without banging up your ship too badly. There are a good number of tracks in the game, including several classic Wipeout tracks that have received some pretty severe aesthetic makeovers. The inclusion of these older tracks makes it fairly apparent that Studio Liverpool didn't want to take too many chances with the new track designs, which follow roughly the same ratio of twists, turns, jumps, and straightaways. This isn't to say the tracks aren't fun, they're just comfort food, and it would've been nice to see more-experimental designs.
The arsenal in Wipeout Pure is pulled almost entirely from past iterations of Wipeout, including mines, guided missiles, turbo boost, and the devastating and visually impressive quake weapon. The weapons seem to pack a bit more punch than they used to, as a direct hit will take out a good chunk of your shield energy as well as bring your boat to nearly a complete halt. One of the interesting twists introduced here is how your ship's shields are tied into the weapon system. In past Wipeouts, each track had a short pit stop area that you would turn into in order to recharge your shields. These bypasses, which seemed purposefully designed to slow you down, have been done away with. Now you have the option of converting whatever weapon pickup you're currently holding into a small amount of shield energy. This creates the interesting dynamic of having to decide which you need more, the weapon or the shield.
Your race options are straightforward, including standard single race, multirace tournament, time trial, and free-play modes. The most unique of the bunch is the zone mode, an endurance test where you fly solo around a track as your speed automatically increases. The test ends when you bang into enough walls and your shields simply give out. There's also Wi-Fi multiplayer support for up to eight players, which works about as you'd expect, though unlike many of the other first-party PSP launch games, there's no Internet multiplayer support in Pure. It does, however, have content-download support, which means that, at least theoretically, Sony could offer additional tracks, hovercrafts, music, and menu skins, giving this already attractive package even greater long-term appeal. There's great potential here, though as of this writing, attempts to access the download menu dead-ended at a "Coming Soon!" screen.
This is really one of the best PSP launch titles. The high-speed gameplay that has always characterized the Wipeout series is still incredibly engaging, and the visuals simply impress, both on an artistic and a technical level. Wipeout Pure is a joy to look at, and it's viscerally satisfying enough to please fans of the series and new players alike.