There are bad games, and then there are bad games. Even worse is Wipeout 2.
Wipeout 2 is the second game for Kinect — Wipeout: In the Zone came first — based on the ABC television show that features competitors navigating wild obstacle courses designed to fling, smash and bounce them about in various painful ways. Sure, it’s fun to see a contestant you like conquer this horrific gauntlet, but the real joy is in watching people fall, and fall often.
You’d think the premise of Wipeout would make for a fun video game, but you’d be wrong. So wrong. The motion detection is absolutely horrendous; movements sometimes take up to two full seconds to register before your avatar reacts, and in a game that relies on dodging, jumping and ducking any kind of control delay absolutely cripples the experience. It’s never fun when you stop moving yet still have to watch your avatar keep on running only to fall off a platform, forcing you to endure that part of the course again.
While the appeal of the show is watching people fail at the course and fall into pools of mud and water, it’s really not fun when it’s happening to you over and over again in a video game. 'A game where the player fails repeatedly' should never be on any design document, unless it's Dark Souls. A challenging course isn’t so bad in and of itself, but when the biggest opponent is the controls themselves there’s simply no reason to keep trying.
You can’t fail in Wipeout 2; the game keeps going until you reach the finish line. Unlike the television show, your character will not be eliminated, but rather suffer time penalties for falling off the course. When you couple this with the offensively bad controls it becomes an exercise in frustration — you want nothing more than just to be done with it, but the game won’t let you.
Just as big an offender as the awful controls is the complete lack of direction in-game. Occasionally you’ll get an on-screen indicator of what motion you need to do, but these often don’t make sense — rather than move your arms to pull yourself up when hanging from a ledge, you jump — but when the game throws a new mechanic at you it does little to help you acclimatise to the change. In the first course there's a platform that must be moved by using a pump, but the pump itself blends in with the course and there’s no arrow or box to tell you what to do. You’ll keep jumping for the platform, cursing about not knowing what to do, until you discover the pump by accident. At least, that’s what happened during our play session.
Calling the graphics muddy isn’t just a pun because the real-life courses are filled with slop; the texture work is awful with pixelation so bad you’d think you were playing a game a couple of generations old. The game uses Avatars, which is neat for a couple of minutes, but forcing your digital self to endure this nafftastic game technically counts as a form of self-abuse. The music is boring and repetitive and the commentary, provided by show hosts John Henson and John Anderson, lacks any of the humour present in the series. The writers thought it would be funny to mock the fact that the same lines are repeated often ("Haven’t I already said that before?"), but it’s really not.
Wipeout 2 is bad. So, so bad. You’d think that it would take a deliberate effort in order to make a game this offensively awful. At the top of this page, click on 'Games.' On that list, pick any game at random and you're guaranteed to have more fun with that than Wipeout 2. Absolutely avoid at all costs.