Title: WipEout Omega Collection | Developer: Sony XDev | Clever Beans | EPOS Game Studio | Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment | Initial Release: 6th June 2017
The WipEout series is perhaps one of gaming's most iconic racing franchises, appearing on every previous generation of PlayStation hardware and featuring as launch titles for the original PlayStation console, PSP and PS Vita. Many people were disappointed to hear then, that a PS4 instalment had been cancelled as part of the closure of Studio Liverpool back in 2012. Thankfully though, 2017's Omega Collection saw a successful return of the anti-gravity favourite in the form of a combined remaster of PS3's WipEout HD & WipEout Fury, plus PS Vita title WipEout 2048. With a silky smooth 60 fps and visuals upgraded all the way to native 4K* for PS4 Pro, WipEout has never looked better and the inclusion of a photo mode means that you can take a step back from the eye-searing speed to appreciate the epochal Feisar ship's "Caution Fast Air Flow..." sticker along with many of the other lovingly crafted details that keep this future-racer so seemingly grounded in reality.
*Native 4K available with in-game motion blur setting disabled
a testament to the forward-thinking team behind the series
Of course, Omega Collection is not the first time that a photo mode has appeared in a WipEout game; WipEout HD boasted the feature almost 9 years earlier when the concepts of capture art and virtual photography still hadn't worked their way into the minds of mainstream gamers, a testament to the forward-thinking team behind the series.
Key Photo Mode Features:
Switch camera view between all ships
Camera position memory
In-race and post-race photo mode access
Controls & Implementation:
WipEout's photo mode is accessible during any (offline) event either by pressing ☐ during the post-race parade laps where the action is tamer and weapons are holstered, or the somewhat fiddlier Options button to bring up the pause menu mid-race. The latter is an unfortunate choice given that this high speed racer uses X for acceleration so you'll have to be willing to sacrifice a little speed, or find a less conventional method of reaching the button, right-hand index finger anyone? A custom binding would help greatly with the timing of shots and its absence is a little disappointing considering the otherwise customisable control scheme and un-mapped touchpad and L3 / R3 buttons.
great for viewing the ships from different angles but limiting in terms of composition
The photo mode in store is quite focused and forgoes any artificial effects and filters, instead concentrating on you pointing a camera at any one of the anti-gravity racers, conveniently switched through using L1 / R1, and snapping the action. This stripped-down approach feels in keeping with the to-the-point nature of the racing and encourages a more natural photographic approach.
An overlay menu provides a control legend and series of options on the left of screen, the visibility of which can be immediately toggled with a single press of the touchpad. Topping that list is a choice of camera positions, any of which can be overlaid with the game HUD. Available cameras include Internal, a first person "PoV" camera that cannot be adjusted; Track (HD / Fury only), which provides a track-side broadcast view with adjustable zoom (RS); and Close, a movable third person camera positioned approximately one ship-length from the targeted craft. Movement of the Close camera is done primarily through an orbit mode, using the LS, which allows the camera to be positioned anywhere around the edge of a bounding sphere. This is great for viewing the ships from different angles but limiting in terms of composition as the subject cannot be moved within the frame. Thankfully, holding ☐ switches to lateral truck and vertical crane adjustments which greatly increase the variety of compositions that can be achieved by moving the ship out of the centre of shot. Take note though, that a seemingly frequent bug means that the camera will sometimes remain in orbit mode and require a nudge in a different direction to switch to the desired plane of adjustment. Rounding off the camera movement controls are a full 360° roll, via L2 / R2, and a healthy zoom using the RS meaning that there is no trouble achieving dramatic wide angle shots or detailed close-ups.
an excellent feature that can capably transform the background
In addition to the camera positioning options, the on-screen menu also allows the adjustment of exposure, as well as the application of motion blur and depth of field effects. These should amount to a tremendously useful set of fundamental tools but the results are a little bit of a mixed bag. Looking at each individually then, exposure is adjusted on a 0 - 100% sliding scale and does a good job of lowering the brightness of well lit scenes but stops short of allowing over-exposure. While this is helpful in avoiding blown out highlights, it can leave images appearing too dark, especially in the areas of the tracks with less direct lighting, and you may want to lift the brightness of your shots as part of a post-edit process.
Depth of Field adjustment is perhaps the least useful tool here, which is a surprise as the options of DoF toggle, aperture size and manual focus control, including a handy in-scene visualisation, should be powerful. In reality, the effect is just not strong enough to create the desired shallow DoF appearance - the focused area is too small, even at the deepest aperture setting (100%), and the de-focus effect either side of it is both too sudden and too subtle. The net result is that there is no obvious point of focus, the subject struggles to stand out from the surroundings and the whole image tends to feel slightly out of focus. With this in mind, my personal preference is to shoot with DoF disabled and instead rely on motion blur to direct interest to the subject while simultaneously adding dynamism to the scene.
The good news then, is that the motion blur implementation is much more effective. This setting is completely independent from the in-game motion blur option and can be applied to either the ship from a static track camera, or to the surroundings via the close orbit camera which effectively follows the selected ship. Activating the motion blur option opens up the associated shutter speed setting, again presented as a 0 - 100% slider, in which 0% is the faster shutter and 100% the slowest. As should be expected, the slower the shutter speed, the greater the amount of blur and the effect is generated in real time after each camera adjustment in a rather pleasing manner. The use of blur does result in a slight loss of highlight detail on non-blurred surfaces, perhaps due to a loss of alpha blending, and lateral ship movement can occasionally cause both the ship and background to blur simultaneously but, all in all, this is an excellent feature that can capably transform the background into a colourful streak behind a fast moving racer.
Far from a mere quality of life convenience, this becomes a genuinely useful feature
Camera settings can be reset to default by pressing Δ and exiting the photo mode is done, without confirmation, with a single press of the O button. Unlike in many other photo modes however, this is nothing to worry about as the camera position and settings are remembered upon exiting so you will not accidentally lose a composition when instinctively trying to back out of a menu. Far from a mere quality of life convenience though, this becomes a genuinely useful feature, allowing you to set up a shot and then switch between any of the ships on track or continue flying to a different location in order to collect a set of similar images throughout the duration of the race. A real bonus for anyone wanting to capture each ship / team in the game, which brings us neatly onto the next section...
As the title synonymous with the futuristic anti-gravity racing genre, photographing WipEout is likely to focus largely on capturing shots of the iconic ship designs and conveying the intense speed and combat action that the series has become known for. With 26 unique tracks and over 100 ships and skins to unlock, there is certainly no shortage of subject matter, although some skill is required to access them all. Ships range from the familiar originals to more exotic prototypes while the tracks themselves cover the street level and stadium-based circuits depicted in the early racing years of prequel title WipEout 2048, to the more dramatic and outlandish tracks found in WipEout HD & Fury, it's a great mix!
don't be afraid to experiment and always check out where the other ships are on track
As part of the impeccable remaster, all ships are treated to 4K textures to support the PS4 Pro, making them as well suited to close-up abstract and detail shots as they are to wider and more dynamic compositions. It's worth bearing in mind though, that the HD / Fury ship models previously created for PS3 tend to have more detail, especially on the underside, than those coming from PS Vita's WipEout 2048. Similarly, because of the deliberate freshness of 2048's early series racers, the later and more battle-hardened HD / Fury ships come replete with additional dirt, grime and scratches to reflect their harder life.
With no filter effects to speak of, you will want to think about taking advantage of the different sources of lighting available in the environments to produce varied styles. WipEout Omega Collection features rich specular and diffuse reflections that will dramatically alter the play of light on the surfaces of ships as they pass through the vibrant and often neon-filled tracks. Getting to know how the available light interacts with a subject is not only key in achieving the best and most interesting WipEout shots, but is a skill that can be transferred to other photo modes and real life photography alike. The exclusion of easy filters is an opportunity to learn so don't be afraid to experiment and always check out where the other ships are on track.
For a little more variety, the combat events will throw in a plethora of weapons from explosive rockets to electrically charged plasma balls but the real novel styles can be found in the Zone and Zone Battle modes. With auto-accelerating ships and ever increasing speed, all zone stages feature highly stylised and vibrant colour palettes which transform as you progress. Colour filters are not missing after all, they're a playable mode!
Anti-gravity racing has never looked or played better than this and WipEout Omega Collection is a challenging and exhilarating racer that is well worth your time. With the inclusion of a photo mode, players are given the chance to take in the details that give this future-themed title a sense of believability while also capturing a true sense of speed in a still image. The stripped-down and quickly accessible tool set encourages virtual photographers to explore on-track action and make use of available light in ways that are valuable beyond this or any photo mode and, with a little practice, you should be capturing vibrant and breathtaking images in no time.
Full Feature Set:
Photo Mode Access: In-race via pause menu; post race via ☐ button
Camera Movement: Orbit with degree of lateral / vertical adjustment
Camera: Close / Internal / Track (HD & Fury only)
HUD Display: On / Off
Exposure: 0 - 100%
Motion Blur: On / Off Shutter Speed: 0 - 100%
Depth of Field: On / Off
Aperture: 0 - 100%
Focus: 0 - 100% (no auto)
Native 4K available on PS4 Pro when in-game motion blur option is disabled.