The good

  • Very accurate representation of the TV show
  • Can be very satisfying
  • Great way to get your daily exercise
  • Multiplayer is good for a laugh or a party

The bad

  • Not that many levels
  • Can also be very irritating
  • Not completely bug free
  • Have to take a shower after every play session

Get ready to get wet because just like the ABC television show the game is based on this Kinect title gets its player soaking wet. Not because you will be violently knocked into a basin of water like in the show, but because this game will physically push you to the max. You will be running, jumping and ducking till you are soaking in sweat!

Just like on TV

Wipeout in the Zone is actually a very good representation of the TV show: you will see your avatar from a side view as you will guide him or her over the platform-game-like obstacle course. You’ll do exactly the same thing as in the TV show: run from point A to B while dodging big moving red obstacles and jumping over gaps in the course. In terms of episodes the game also stays true to the show. You start off with The Qualifier, then do The Eliminator and finish off with the Wipeout Zone. After successfully completing an episode you unlock the next one and receive a new character to play with.

The cartoony world of Wipeout in the Zone fits perfectly with that graphics of the Avatars and although the objects in the game look simple, the vibrant colors and nice lightning effects make the game a pleasure to look at.

Run, duck, jump!

Ups and downs

Wipeout: In the Zone really felt like an emotional rollercoaster that provides me with ample ups and downs. On the down side, the game can be very frustrating at times. For example, I got stuck at a particular difficult and long obstacle and every time you wipeout (fail) you have to start that particular obstacle all the way from the beginning again! After failing it over and over again the game experience became annoying and almost maddening to me. Luckily, obstacles can be skipped if you really can’t pass them, but this adds a big time penalty. However, the big charm of the Wipeout show (and thus also the game) is wiping out often and in comical ways, and if you are a Wipeout fan you probably won’t share my frustration but instead will love this game for it!

On the up side the game can also be extremely satisfying. Once you get in a good ‘flow’ you’ll find yourself running at top speed while using your ninja reflexes to dodge everything perfectly and time every jump so well that nothing even touches you. These are the moments where you will be left with a huge smile on your face and the realization of how awesome you – and your avatar – really are.

The first time this is funny, but after 10 times it could get a bit annoying to non-wipeout fans

Multiplayer adds a bit of fun to the whole mix because even though you’ll have to take turns, the non-active players can use regular Xbox controllers to control a flying robot has the ability to throw balls at the active player, making him stagger and slow down. This can turn into hilarious moments of sweet revenge and adds a nice touch to the game.

There are a total of nine episodes and the game can be finished in about three to four hours. The multiplayer stays fun for a bit longer as it is fun to revisit the courses with a friend, but I don’t see much replay value in terms of the single player. Content wise, the game is a bit on the short side and feels more like an arcade title opposed to a full blown retail game.

Controls

With a Kinect game like Wipeout in the Zone for Kinect, you would expect the controls to be very intuitive, and for the most part this is true (you run to run, you jump to jump and you duck to duck), but some essential controls are not so intuitive. For instance: if you are running and you want to stop you don’t just stop running, you have to stick out your arms in front of you and to walk backwards you have to keep your arms extended. Another example: If you want to have any control while you are in the air, you have to do the same balancing movement as being on a balance bar, which might not be so intuitive at first. It also doesn’t help that there is not a single in-game explanation, so to find out these less intuitive controls you really have to read the manual. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it just surprised me a bit.

Body tracking of the game is fairly good and feels responsive for running, jumping and ducking (although there is some lag for which you will automatically start to compensate for). However, when it comes to balancing, the body tracking feels buggy. I had times when my character fell off the balance bar on the right side while I was leaning all the way to the left.

The balance bits can be a bit buggy

There are other strange bugs in the game as well: sometimes your character will jump while already being in the air or your character appears to be floating above the ground. The speech will sometimes stutter and the game employs a strange sense of physics when it comes to big rubber balls: These act as if they have the same gravitational pull as a full scale planet and will suck your avatar towards them, making it sometimes difficult (in a non-fun way) to pass these.

These big balls will suck you in like a vacuum cleaner

The controls can also get very difficult when the game requires precise movements. There is an obstacle where you have to run in tiny increments, stop at the right time and duck at the same time. When I had to do this I often ran for a bit too long (resulting in running into the water), ducking while still running (resulting in making a sliding right off the platform) or accidentally walking backwards (resulting in me walking off the platform into the water).

Exercise

One thing that cannot be left out of any review on this Kinect game,  is that it is a great way to get some exercise. The game requires its players to run on the spot for nearly the entire time. Add regular jumping to that and you will understand why this game will require you to have a shower after each play session. The fact that it is so physically exhausting adds a whole new dimension to multiplayer too: the better your stamina, the more chance at winning as you play the game for longer periods. My stamina is not so good, and after playing the game for a good hour I was already starting to get into trouble with my jumps. In multiplayer I would have been beaten easily by a fitter player. That said, if you want to increase your stamina, then play Wipeout on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure it’s as good as going for a run outside!

Conclusion

Wipeout in the Zone is a fun game that stays very true to the original television show. The game delivers a great physical exercise and can be very rewarding when you get in the right flow and have that perfect run! It isn’t all good though as the game suffers from some bugs and awkward tracking that can sometimes turn fun into frustration. The game is also very short, so in terms of content it feels like an arcade game. The multiplayer of the game does add another dimension of fun, and if you have friends over to play with this title becomes a bit more interesting. All in all Wipeout in the Zone is a great game for fans of the show that are willing to look beyond the (minor) bugs. For non-Wipeout fans the game might be a bit of a let-down compared to other games on the market, as it does not provide a lot of content, nor will the playing experience be fully satisfying.


This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Wipeout in the Zone
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