It seems that when a new game system is released, racing games tend to clog the list of launch titles. This was no different with the PS Vita. A grand total of five racing games were released within a week of the PS Vita launch. Some were really good, some, not so much. And one is a new installment of a beloved racing franchise.
WipEout began life as a PSOne title, and quickly gathered a following. It is a game of futuristic, “anti-gravity racing,” with combat mixed in. The tracks were laid out in sci-fi settings, and the music was decidedly electronica. But underneath the shine of future racing there lay a tight, well thought out racing game.
In WipEout 2048, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and Studio Liverpool have taken the game to a whole new level. A fast-paced portable one!
Everything that gamers have come to expect is included in WipEout 2048. There are multiple cars (or ships, as they are called in this future), from up to five different racing teams (each with its own backstory), and there are ships for different types of races. Some ships are designed for speed, others for combat, and instead of RPG-like customization on each ship, the player can choose the team, and then the ship for each situation.
There are over 20 different ships to choose from, once all are unlocked, and they come in up to five different speed classes (three to start, two are unlocked later). There are ten tracks to race on and they vary in length and difficulty.
In the single-player campaign, there are four different types of racing events, from a simple race, to combat, to zone racing, which requires the player to focus on controlling the ship and less on combat and/or speed. Lastly, there are time trials. Completing each race nets you XP that is used to unlock new ships, teams and tracks. And each race has hidden “elite pass” mode, where if certain requirements are met, the player can earn more XP and prestige.
As expected in a futuristic racing game, each track comes equipped with speed pads for boosts, and combat weapon pads when required. Also, WipEout 2048 has defense pads, which gives the player shields and turbos to assist in winning the race.
The single player campaign is a three-year race circuit from 2048 to 2050. The player opens up new tracks with each victory. The campaign can be fairly short if you have any experience with a WipeOut game, but to combat the shorter single player campaign, Studio Liverpool has created two multiplayer features.
There is ad hoc, which allows the player to race two to eight people within the immediate vicinity and an online mode, which allows for races of four to eight players. WipEout 2048 also utilizes cross-platform play, so players can race with the Vita or the PS3, using the WipeOut HD game with little or no difference in the experience.
WipEout 2048 utilizes the Vita’s touch screen for menu manipulation and the six-axis motion sensor can be used while racing.
The game looks nice on the 5″ OLED screen, but it runs at only 30 fps, and most of the tracks take place in dark cities at night, so the visuals are muddied in darkness for most of the game. There are a few well-lit races, but not enough to offset the number of dark races. I mention this only to report. It doesn’t bother me, as I am normally concentrating on the race, the upcoming turns, and the other players behind me, and not if the surrounding buildings’ architecture is sound. Even at 30 fps, the game still looks good.
The sound and music of WipEout 2048 is pure techno beats. It almost creates a calm atmosphere during the chaos of a race between ships that can shoot missiles and machine guns. I find myself enjoying the soundtrack, even well after completing the single-player campaign.
The LiveArea includes the owner’s manual and shows your current ship, along with the game start tab.
WipEout 2048 is a great racing game. The action is fast and thrilling, and even though the game runs at a low 30 fps, it doesn’t detract from the experience. The single player campaign is short, but the cross-platform play allows for deep multiplayer experiences, and there are leaderboards to show off your racing skills and for international bragging rights.
As the PS Vita’s launch window comes to a close, WipEout 2048 stands out as one of the better racing games available at launch.
Shop for WipEout 2048 on PS Vita for a discounted price at Amazon.com (February 13, 2012 release date).