WipEout 2048 Review
Game: WipEout 2048
Developer: SCE Studio Liverpool
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Available on: PlayStation Vita only
Once upon a time, PlayStation and WipEout were inseparable. Starting way back in 1995 when Sony’s Studio Liverpool were called Pysgnosis (a well respected developer even then) the series started with aplomb, garnering universal praise for its gameplay and style, especially when it came to the music. Throughout various incarnations, the series was brought screaming into the HD era with WipEout HD, and expanded upon with the Fury add-on; yet another excellent addition to the series.
Bringing the series to a handheld device is nothing new for Studio Liverpool though, with two excellent PSP titles under their belt, surely with the power of the PlayStation Vita, WipEout 2048 will be stunning?
GRAPHICS: As you’d expect, the visuals for 2048 are nothing short of mind blowing. The power of the PS Vita is showcased magnificently, with gorgeous colour bursting out of the screen at the player, with a (mostly) firm frame-rate throughout every race too. In a similar manner to the PlayStation 3’s “HD” edition, the focus is very much on clear white menus and ease of navigation, but nonetheless, 2048 really does look the business.
SOUND: Throughout the series, WipEout has never let its fans down when it comes to music, and yet again Studio Liverpool have knocked it out of the park. With thumping futuristic beats from the likes of Kraftwerk, Orbital and The Future Sound of London, this is a game to be savoured with a nice pair of headphones. Turn it up loud and you will be fully immersed in what you are doing, with the explosions, whooshing of vehicles and the superb tunes throughout.
GAMEPLAY: If you’ve never played any entry into the WipEout series, then you are to be pitied. The best way to sum up 2048 would be to say that is visceral, speedy futuristic racing with weapon pickups and a superb feeling to proceedings. Over the years, the WipEout series has had numerous additions made to it, none more fantastical than the Zone mode, whereby you don’t have to worry about acceleration controls at all, just movement. The ship will control its own speed, getting ever-faster as you go from Zone to Zone, with psychedelic visuals rushing past as you race harder than you ever thought possible. Honestly, when it comes to racing games in general, there is no finer mode out there than Zone mode.
This, and many other modes are available throughout the career mode, which tasks you with starting in 2048 and progressing to 2050, the dawn of the anti-gravity racing vehicles, and the tracks show it. Some of the tracks look unfinished because, in the canon of WipEout, this is the dawn of the sport. The tracks are all superb though, with multiple paths on most of them allowing for the player to find the route that works for them, to win the race.
Of course there are basic races to get you into the spirit of things, but then there are time-trials, the aforementioned Zone modes and even Battle modes where you will have to score a set number of points to pass (by damaging or destroying opponents), all of which are outrageously fun and never get old. There are multiple vehicle manufacturers to pick from, each with their own class (fighters, speeder, etc) which unlock as you progress and achieve in-game feats, which also ties into the user-level, which grows as you get further into the campaign. Some vehicles are restricted – in that certain weapons aren’t usable – which adds a nice tactical edge to vehicle choice,
But what of the PS Vita exclusive features? Well, if you so choose you can control the game entirely with motion controls. Whilst some people may not end up using them for very long, they do work very well and are as responsive as you’d hope for in a game that requires speed and precision. On top of that, the entire menu system is touch based and you can even use the rear touch to rotate your ship and take a look at it from different angles.
The only big negative to draw from 2048 is the load times. Most races will take between 30-50 seconds to load up, and while this doesn’t sound like a long time in theory, in practice, on a hand-held device, it’s a little bit too long.
MULTIPLAYER: There is a full online campaign in WipEout 2048 this time around, with the single player events being replaced with objectives. These objectives can be attempted on any course and after three attempts at passing them, you are given the option to advance to the next one. The best thing however is that if you have friends online, the game automatically attempts to put you into a lobby with (up to 7 of) them. Some of the objectives are simple, with early races passable by just playing them; an elite pass requiring you to hit an opponent with a weapon. Later races will require higher finishing positions which, depending on your skill level, could be a challenge.
The multiplayer itself seems pretty much latency free and will provide even more value for money. You can also play cross-platform with PlayStation 3 users on certain courses and there is an ad-hoc mode too. Pretty much everything has been thought of when it comes to multiplayer; there are even statistic screens that show you how many missiles you’ve fired, or how many speed-boosters you’ve flown over.
LONGEVITY: It’s hard to put a numerical figure to the hours you’ll spend in 2048, because even when you pass events you won’t be satisfied. You’ll want to go back to them and get the elite pass for every single event, which will take you a long, long time indeed. Throw the cross-platform play, trophies and multiplayer campaign into the mix and it’s hard to think anyone will be putting 2048 down any time soon.
VERDICT: WipEout 2048 is a phenomenal racing title with plenty to do, lots of variation and a strong multiplayer component. All of this is done whilst approaching the visuals of a home console title, albeit at a lower frame-rate. It’s a real shame the races take so long to load, but once they are loaded you’ll forgive them for that most of time
If you’re shopping for a PlayStation Vita, WipEout 2048 has to be on your list. It brings everything you’ve loved into one amazing package, only this time it’s in your hands. Stunning.