Despite the name, Wipeout 3 is actually the fourth instalment of the long running series. Just like its predecessors, Wipeout 3 (or Wip3out) is a fastpaced futuritic game with techno and electronica music from various non-mainstream artists. The difference with the music to this game is that a single music director, DJ Sasha, was employed to work with artists to create a resilient and cohesive soundtrack. With bands such as The Chemical Brothers and Orbital contributing to the game alongside some of DJ Sasha's own tracks, the futuristic soundscape created is ideal both within the game and also in isolation. The music to the game is released on the Wip3out - The Music album, free with "Arcade" magazine issue 11, although the game itself actually doubles up as an audio CD, much like the other additions to the series. Let's take a closer look at the album release...
First, some mention of the album itself. This album features just one track — a 30 minute continuous DJ mix compiled and mixed by Sasha. During its playtime, it features 14 tracks featured in the game, opening with DJ Sasha's "Auricom" and concluding with Paul van Dyck's "Avenue". This is an interesting approach, though gives way to various navigation problems. However, it omits a track featured in the game, namely DJ Sasha's "Xpander". What's more, an alternative version of the album also omits The Chemical Brothers' "Under The Influence" and featured various mastering problems, leading to clicks and pops throughout its duration. While physical releases are generally desirable, this one clearly pales to the redbook audio.
With five tracks, DJ Sasha is the main contributor to the album, with each track written in a distinctive trance style similar to Tim Wright's (CoLD SToRAGE) earlier masterpieces in the series. Mostly, the tracks are fairly good, and take upon both ambient and aggressive forms. "Feisar" and "Icarus" are some of DJ Sasha's more ambient themes, but they are at risk a little of being seen as repetitive. Really, it's the slow development which lets "Icarus", whereas "Feisar" actually blossoms into a nice track from 2:31 onwards. DJ Sasha's other tracks "Auricom," "Goteki 45," and "Piranha" represent his more aggressive additions, and are actually a little better than his ambient tracks. Out of this selection, "Piranha" is the most well-developed and gripping; with the track featuring a pumping bass, fantastic sound effects, and an overly eerie atmosphere, it's a fantastic dark contribution.
The rest of the soundtrack to the game is made up from non-mainstream artists. The music is generally of a better quality, which is unsurprising when you consider that DJ Sasha also worked with these artists. Two of these groups, The Chemical Brothers and Orbital make a return to the series with their tracks "Under the Influence" and "Know Where to Run." Exclusive to one of the two versions of the album, "Under the Influence" is a typical big beat track from The Chemical Brothers, and although isn't as catching as their other contributions earlier in the series, it's got a certain pull factor to it which makes it pretty enjoyable. Orbital's "Know Where to Run" is just as good, focusing a bit more on the solid trance vibe previously emanated by them on earlier albums, which results in a solid theme.
The music from the newcomers to the series, Paul van Dyk, Propellerheads, and MKL are all fairly solid too. Paul van Dyk, whose tracks have also been featured in the Need For Speed and Ridge Racer series, contributes a decent closer in the form of "Avenue". It is basically a repetitive trance track which seems to hold its own, despite not being extraordinarily innovative or daring in development. "Lethal Cut" from Propellerheads is very much in the same vein of music as The Chemical Brothers with its blend of big beat and trip-hop styles. It's much more inventive than Paul van Dyk's track, far more ominous, and definitely more listenable. The album's best tracks actually come from MKL with "Surrender" and "Control." "Control" is my favourite out of the two tracks, mainly because it has a repeated rising sequence that comes in at 1:09 which I find particularly inviting and fitting for the piece.
The music to Wipeout 3 is certainly something you shouldn't give a miss. It's not exactly the best soundtrack in the series, but it's still a good blend of trance and electronica music. However, this particular album release is something of a failure — featuring track omissions, navigation problems, and mastering issues in some versions. It's much better to just purchase the game and enjoy the redbook audio instead.