Talking WipEout Pulse with Sony Liverpool (part 1)

Just how do you improve the already very good?

Talking WipEout Pulse with Sony Liverpool (part 1)
| WipEout Pulse

Released just in time for PSP's first Christmas in the UK, WipEout Pure was everything WipEout games should be: cutting-edge graphics, super smooth controls and white-knuckle anti-grav racing.

On a more general level, the free download packs offering new tracks, teams and music also demonstrated how Sony was getting a handle on the sort of previously promised PSP extras we now come to expect from our games.

So two years on, can Sony Liverpool repeat the experience with WipEout Pulse? We got hold of producer Paul Tweedle to find out.

Pocket Gamer: When you come to a sequel like WipEout Pulse, how do you try to get a good balance between adding new features and just offering more of the same?

Paul Tweedle: The very first and most important thought is that it was such a good game – unanimously well received and reviewed – you don't want to mess with the fundamentals too much. The old adage, 'don't fix it if it isn't broken' definitely applies. Pure wasn't perfect, though, so we set about altering and adding to it where we, and the feedback we had received, felt necessary.

For example, one of the main gripes was that it had no infrastructure mode for online racing. We decided immediately to take care of that. To be honest it was always meant to be in Pure but with the PSP being so new at the time and Pure being a launch title, we simply couldn't squeeze it in. It's here now though and it's great!

You've also reworked the race progression haven't you?

Yeah, you're right. The Race Campaign mode is a mix of all seven race event types. Basically each grid has a points target which, when reached, unlocks the next grid and so on. You can feasibly get through the game by playing maybe half the events so it's not like you have to win every single one, but where's the fun in that? If you're anything like me you'll want, or even need, a gold medal on every event!

The idea was that we never leave the player stuck on a particular event. What if you're just plain rubbish at Zone mode? We didn't want to leave you stuck and frustrated in the game so you can choose your way around the grid.

In addition, we've structured the introduction of new tracks in such a way that you are able to learn them gradually. On top of this, the game has three skill levels embedded within it and you can alter these on the fly, per event so you've really no excuse for not progressing.

When we played the game at Leipzig, we thought the track design was less unforgiving than before. Was that a conscious decision or are we mistaken?

Heh! We still have the odd hairpin here and there – what's a racing game without a hairpin? The track design for this, and for Pure, was given serious time and consideration. The designers came up with literally hundreds of tracks before whittling them down to the 12 reversible tracks you'll see in the game (with more to come later via downloads by the way). So the ones that remain are really the cream of the crop.

Each member of the team has his favourite track and, of course, least favourite tracks so you can't please everyone every time. For example, my least enjoyable track is the lead designer, Colin Berry's, favourite.

Again, it's about variety. Each environment is distinct and each track has its own challenges. Oh, and wait till you see the simply beautiful Zone mode versions of the tracks, you're in for a visual treat!

What are the plans for downloadable content?

They're still a little bit secret at the moment but, rest assured, you won't be disappointed. Your game will grow… considerably. I can't really say more than that at the moment.

Our thanks to Paul for his time. Don't forget to check out the second part of the interview, in which we cover customisation, team design and the return of the Eliminator mode.

WipEout Pulse is due for release in December.

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.