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As you might imagine, here at Play-Old-PC-Games.com we love PC gaming, but we also have a soft-spot for our PlayStation consoles too. The PS4 in particular has seen a lot of use since we got a copy of the excellent Bloodborne, though we can’t help wondering what happened to so many of our favourite PlayStation franchises from yester-year. A PlayStation without Ridge Racer or Wipeout seemed unthinkable a few years ago, but sadly the PS4 has neither, with no modern update of these once mighty franchises anywhere in sight. While we might not have a new Wipeout game to look forward to, we can at least enjoy the classic games in the franchise, including Wipeout XL (Wipeout 2097 in Europe), which made its way onto the PC way back in 1997.
The first hurdle you will need to overcome in order to play Wipeout XL on your modern machine is to install the game. Unfortunately, the game has a 16 bit installer, which is incompatible with more modern, 64 bit versions of Windows. To get around this problem, we’ve written a simple replacement installer which you can download here (link broken? Let me know here). This installer will copy the relevant files from the CD, set up the registry keys and create shortcuts.
If you want to use the original installer and you have a compatible system, be sure to choose “Drect3D” mode and not “PowerVR” when installing. Perform a custom installation and install all the components, but do NOT install DirectX from the CD. If the installer exits with the message that “Wipeout XL requires Windows 95”, simply browse to the CD in Computer/This PC and apply Windows 95 compatibility mode to the file “launcher.exe”. If you’re not familiar with setting compatibility options, see this tutorial.
Running the game
To start WipeoutXL, launch the game from the Start menu/screen shortcut as normal. The following window will then appear.
Make sure that “Resolution” is set to 800×600. Do not choose a resolution under 640×480 as these resolutions are typically not supported on modern computers. Sound can be set to Stereo or Dolby Surround if you have a suitable speaker setup on your PC. Click on “Play Game” when you have configured these settings. If the game crashes, fear not, simply read on.
Considering the age of this game, it runs surprisingly well on modern versions of Windows, though there are a few hoops you will usually need to jump through. The first problem is that the game will often crash on startup, right before the introduction movie plays. The easiest way to fix this problem is to use the excellent dgVoodoo2 DirectX wrapper. Simply follow the tutorial here to install dgVoodoo2. Remember that WipeoutXL is a DirectX game, so install the dgVoodoo2 files from the MS sub-folder.
Installing dgVoodoo2 was the only step we needed to take in order to get the game started on our Windows 10 PC. If your PC cannot run dgVooodoo2, you can try various compatibility options and running the game as administrator, but on our test machine none of this proved to be necessary. Note that running the game with Windows 95 compatibility mode and dgVoodoo2 together may result in a crash.
Once you have the game running, you will quickly notice that it runs too quickly to be playable. Wipeout XL’s gameplay is based around the game running at 30 frames per second, just like in the PlayStation version, but the original programmers never bothered to put a frame limiter into the game. Now that the game is running on PCs that are an order of magnitude faster than the machines we had in the late 90s, the action runs at an unplayable accelerated rate.
Fixing this problem is a little fiddly. The best tool we found for the task was called Nvidia Inspector. This tool is designed for users who want to tweak or overclock their graphics cards. Unfortunately with the tool being designed specifically for Nvidia cards, it may not work on PCs with ATI or Intel graphics chips. If you have a tool that works on PCs with non-Nvidia cards, please let us know in the comments.
Nvidia Inspector can be downloaded here (scroll down and look for the link under “Download locations”). The program is downloaded as a zip file, so simply extract the contents to any convenient location on your PC and then run the nvidiaInspector program. The following window will then appear.
Click on the little icon circled in red in the picture above. The following menu will then appear.
Notice the “Frame Rate Limiter” option, it’s highlighted in blue in the picture above. Set this to 30 fps and then click on the “Apply Changes” button in the top right of the window. Now, start Wipeout XL again, you should now find that the game runs at normal speed. Don’t forget to remove the frame-rate limit when you are done playing, otherwise every game on your PC will be limited to 30 frames a second and you might as well go and buy a games console (sorry, couldn’t resist that time).
Wipeout XL has limited support for gamepads, but we strongly recommend you simply use Xpadder instead. While this does limit you to digital only controls, this was how most players played the game on the PlayStation anyway. Below is our Xpadder setup for Wipeout XL.
With this setup you can use either the bumper buttons or the analogue triggers for air brake, either the analogue stick or the d-pad for steering and adjusting your crafts pitch. The green (A) button accelerates and the red (B) button fires your weapons. The blue (X) button discards the current weapon. The back and start buttons can be used to navigate through the games menus without needing a keyboard.
Picture is too dark – On our PC, the games graphics were too dark, making it difficult to navigate through tunnels, for example. To work around this you can just boost the brightness on your monitor or TV, or try the brightness controls in dgVoodoo2.
Problems saving games – First of all, Wipeout XL does not save your game data automatically. You must go to the options menu and choose “Save” manually. Secondly, the game requires read/write access to its installation directory. If you installed the game into the program files or program files (x86) folders, you may find that the default Windows security settings prevent the game from saving any data. To fix this problem set the permissions on your game folder so that your user account has full control/read write permissions. You can find a tutorial on how to configure folder permissions here.
Random crashes – Some gamers have reported random crashes while playing the game. With our recommended dgVoodoo2 setup however, we played a race on every circuit and did NOT encounter any crashes.
Is this the best version of Wipeout XL?
Wipeout XL/2097 is best known as being a Sony PlayStation game, but it also came to the Sega Saturn and of course the PC. The Saturn version is the only one to support the consoles standard analogue controller, but generally it runs at a lower resolution than the PC or PlayStation versions. The PC version boasts a maximum resolution of 800×600, around 2.5 times greater than the PlayStation version. Because of this, the PC game is the best looking port, looking even better than the PlayStation version running through an up-scaling emulator in our opinion. What lets the PC version down is the lack of music, several of the PlayStation versions more famous music tracks are missing (such as Atom Bomb by Fluke and Firestarter by The Prodigy). Although it’s somewhat subjective, some gamers believe the sound effects sound better on the PlayStation version too. In the end, it’s a matter of opinion as to which version is best.
Click on any screenshot to enlarge it.