Any fan of Sony should know of the Wipeout series; it’s been a Playstation exclusive since Wipeout 3 was released in 1999. The PSP had it’s own Wipeout game available as a launch title (Wipeout Pure), so it seems only fair that the newest Sony handheld get the same treatment. This is where Wipeout 2048 comes in, the latest game in the series, and one of the launch titles for the Vita. Long story short, this game is worth the buy. Now if you really want to make sure it’s worth it to you, or if you just think I am lying, keep reading.
Developed by Studio Liverpool (the original masterminds behind the series), 2048 actually takes place before the other Wipeout games, when anti-gravity racing was first starting to emerge. When you start the game, you are greeted with a beautiful cinematic which takes you through a visual timeline of vehicle racing; from the very first cars, to the game’s present tense. Because the game is set in the beginning of “Anti-Gravity” racing, the usual Wipeout environments are gone. There are no dedicated racing tracks, all of the races take place on city streets; well, the city streets of 2048 that is (which seem to be conveniently designed to look and feel like race tracks). The maps are set in the New York City of the future. Each map has a three tier design, taking you from the lower levels of the actual city, to higher leveled roads that are full of twists and turns (makes me wonder how many accidents there are during rush hour).
To start off, let’s address the greatest thing 2048 has going for it. This game is GORGEOUS. It easily is one of the best looking games on the Vita right now. Everything from the level design, to the weapons to the ships themselves are beautifully done. You’ll find yourself constantly wanting to screen capture whatever race you are in, just to marvel at how amazing it looks. To go hand in hand with these amazing graphics, is an amazing soundtrack. There are a total of fourteen tracks, some of them remixed specifically for this game, and featuring artists like Deadmau5, Orbital, Noisia, and many more. The soundtrack fits the game extremely well, and in turn improves the overall feel of the game. The fact that visuals and audio are the the two best things this game has going for it doesn’t bother me, seeing as those are the two things that initially draw you into any form of media. You see something amazing, you hear something amazing, and you are drawn to it. It can even distract you from other areas that may be lacking, and make up for them.
At the core of 2048 is of course the gameplay that fans know and love. The ships, weapons, speed, are all there. There are 4 racing teams with 3 types of ships to choose from (which you must unlock). Each team has 3 types of ships: speed ships -which focus on acceleration and generally have low health-, agility ships -which are the more balanced ships with a good amount of speed and health-, and fighter ships which focus mainly on combat. The single player campaign takes you through the 2048-2049 racing season. It’s pretty standard, you place through the different racing events, the last couple of them being championship events where you unlock trophies, certain ships, etc. The online multiplayer has the same campaign structure; where you play through race events, only difference being that you are playing against actual people. This is where -as with most games that include multiplayer- the Wipeout 2048 has its most replay value. It’s where you are going to rank up the most, and unlock the most content.
There are three major types of racing events that take place in both single player and multiplayer: Race events, Combat events, and Zone events. Races are of course your good ol’ “get through the track in first place” kind of events. It includes weapons, both defensive and offensive, which you can use to slow down your opponents, or even take them out of the race completely. Be warned, whatever you can do to them, they can do to you; and if your ship is destroyed, you’re out the race for good. Combat events center around weapon usage. In order to pass these events you have to deal a certain damage to your opponent. Unlike in Race events, if your ship is destroyed, you re-spawn on the track, though you are deducted five points from your total score. Zone events, aside from being the best looking (the visuals are stunning. Have I mentioned that?), seem to be the more laid back of the 3 game modes, until you play it and realize how insanely hard it can actually get. In a Zone event, you need not worry about speed, your ship accelerates by itself. The point is to last as long as you can on the track without your ship being destroyed. It’s all about how good you are at handling and making your way around the track. It starts off slow, but the longer you play, the faster your ship goes. You pass by making it past the minimum amount of “zones” that the level requires. Oh, and it looks really good. Imagine, you playing on a futuristic grey and neon colored rainbow, with not a care in the world. That’s what it looks like.
There are also, as in any racing game, time trials which are unlocked as you progress. You can do a time trial on the map of your choice and using the NEAR app on the Vita you can leave your ghost data of the time trial in a random area for other people to find and try to beat, and vice-versa. There is a ranking system in the game that shows your progress throughout the game, and also unlocks things like prototype racing events, and A+ racing levels (which are the fastest races in all the land). Every ten levels you rank up to, you unlock a special prototype ship event, where you must race with prototype ships from each of the 5 teams.
Wipeout 2048 plays and feels great. but that’s not to say it doesn’t have its drawbacks, one of which being the touch and tilt controls. The touch controls aren’t actually bad; you press the rear touch pad to accelerate, and you the tap on the screen to fire weapons and things of the sort. The problem for me was in the tilt controls, it just wasn’t good. Now I may have a slight bias, seeing that I never did like, using gyroscopes or things of the sort to control a video game. They are just always inaccurate, either too sensitive to movement or not sensitive enough. This is the case with the tilt controls for this game. They are just not worth using. This is a shame because both touch and tilt are features that Sony was boasting about the most when it came to the Vita. There are other games that use these features well don’t get me wrong, this just isn’t one of them. The other major drawback to 2048 are the incredibly long loading times for each race. You could easily end up waiting any where from 30 seconds to a minute for a race to load, which can feel like an eternity when you are traveling and in need of entertainment.
Aside from those two flaws, Wipeout 2048 is one hell of a game. Even if you have to wait long, you’ll forget about loading times once you’re immersed in the beautiful racing chaos that this game has to offer. This is a great game coming out of the gate at the dawn of Sony’s new handheld, which is a great thing for them. I can only imagine what awaits the Vita as the system matures.