Joystiq impressions: Wipeout Pulse (PSP)

Franchises rarely improve this much over time. Wipeout Pulse, the newest addition to the long revered Wipeout series, somehow manages to improve upon the already-sublime PSP launch title, Wipeout Pure. It isn't a revolutionary change from previous iterations -- but significant tweaks can be immediately noticed within a few seconds of play.

Of most importance must be the game's altered controls. Ships handle tighter than ever before, something that casual gamers will certainly appreciate. Using the analog nub feels even more precise than before (although we still prefer driving with the D-Pad). Ships still can't do hairpin turns like in F-Zero GX, but the Wipeout series always did have a different flavor than Nintendo's racing classic.

The updated HUD looks sleek -- we love seeing it shake every time we scratch the car. Weapons feel even better in Pulse: they feel more damaging, and look especially good. The ability to absorb power-ups returns, which adds a welcome layer of strategy to each of the races.

Pulse adds custom soundtracks, Infrastructure gameplay, and an in-game photo capture tool to make this one of PSP's most features-packed games yet. Pure still looks incredible on PSP ... and somehow Pulse looks even better. Futuristic racing fans will find almost nothing to complain about: Pulse is easily on its way to becoming the definitive Wipeout experience.

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This article was originally published on Joystiq.