Set in the semi-distant future (the game was released in Japan as Wipeout 2097), XL put players in the cockpits of sleek anti-gravity vehicles whose blocky geometric shapes not only reflected a once popular industrial-design sensibility, but proved to be a clever way to work around the relatively weak graphical capabilities of so-called “fifth-generation” consoles like the first PlayStation. The Crafts in this sequel to 1996’s Wipeout were bigger, faster, and, for the first time, fully armed. Weapons ranged from the usual complement of rockets and missiles all the way up to the fist-of-god Quake Disruptor. But all this speed and power came with a price: the use of advanced “air brakes” to control an essentially frictionless object traveling at very high speeds took more than a few minutes to comprehend and an afternoon to master. And while many purists found it a distraction, XL was among first games to incorporate music from major artists: its techno-centric soundtrack — the game disk also worked in CD players — featured music from Underworld, Prodigy, and The Chemical Brothers.
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