Wipeout 2048 – PS Vita
Platform: PS Vita
Release Date (NA): February 22nd, 2012
Developer: Studio Liverpool
Genre: Racing, Extreme Racing, Futuristic Racing
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
I remember Wipeout XL from my days of renting PS1 games and a few years later was introduced to Wipeout 3 while I was out hunting for the former. Although I haven’t taken the time to track down or play any of the other various Wipeout titles (Pulse, for the PSP, is lying around somewhere, unopened…), the PS Vita did lead me to Wipeout 2048. After I had first purchased the newest Sony handheld, I had a tough time locating a decent selection of games since Sony wants to encourage downloading software instead of purchasing physical media. In searching for strong PSV titles, to my surprise I learned of a new Wipeout receiving positive critical attention. I’m not typically a huge fan of racing games but Wipeout has always been an exceptional franchise and Wipeout 2048 continues the trend.
Anyone who’s played games from this series knows that racing is only a part of gameplay. A multitude of weapons and other power-ups can be used giving those of us who aren’t so great at racing a chance at a decent finish. Races in Wipeout 2048 take the form of advanced hovercrafts speeding through futuristic cityscapes. Weaponry is divided into 2 classes, offensive and defensive. Offensive weapons include the simple and inaccurate machine guns, homing missles, and the deadly plasma bolt among others, while defensive items can grant the player a shield for temporary invulnerability, drain an opponent’s energy and add it to your own, pilot the craft automatically, and more.
The PS Vita may not be as warmly received as Nintendo’s 3DS, but the luxurious, hi def wide screen is perfect for Wipeout 2048. These graphics are a delight to look at with sharp, crisp edges in the background scenery. The hovercrafts are extremely detailed with elaborate shading and texture, and touches of neon and flashing lights pull everything together. This game leaves nothing to be desired visually. Cut scenes prior to a race, replays, even the menus are done with excellent style. Sound has also played a significant role in past Wipeouts and remains as prominent as ever. As with previous titles, the soundtrack is composed of several mainstream-ish techno songs, some new and some remixed from older games. The PS Vita may not be very large, but cranking the volume all the way up for some up-tempo music to race to completes the package.
Controls are solid and any Wipeout fan will recognize them immediately since PlayStation controllers have yet to undergo any major changes, even on their portable systems. If for some reason the controls are ill suited to the player’s needs they can easily be reconfigured. There’s a certain amount of comfortable precision in the PSV’s control stick, something that no D-pad or control pad will ever match. To fully utilize the PSV, unconventional controls can be set where the touch screen controls the weapons systems, the back touch screen is used for acceleration, and the entire unit is tilted to steer the craft. Game modes are the standard fare found in racing titles, with time trials, 1 or 2 players, etc, as well as more unique options such as a “survival mode” where the player must survive as long as possible with no way to regain lost energy and with the maximum speed steadily increasing.
There’s not much more to say about a racing game, even one as fresh and fun as Wipeout 2048. Progress is marked on a very interesting looking chart with the occasional “side challenges” that most often lead to enhanced abilities of ships or altogether new ship models. Difficulty can be adjusted two ways; by selecting an appropriate racing class, and by lowering the auto-correct tolerance for sharp turns. The AI racers don’t start off too hard, but they don’t let you win either. Some practice and patience is necessary in order to get a good idea of where weapons and objects can be found as well as where the speed pads are located. Entering into class A (the hardest) requires flawless racing skills, fantastic timing with weapons, and even a little luck when it comes to picking up items.
The coolest part? Studio Liverpool has now released DLC for Wipeout 2048 that adds content from Wipeout Fury and Wipeout HD for the PS3. If you already own those 2 titles, the DLC is free. And if you don’t, you’ll then be able to play those 2 plus 2048 on the PS3 also!
Reviewed by The Cubist
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