This review actually marks the first time I have reviewed a Vita title, as it takes a lot of me to get invested in a handheld game. However, as much of a spoiler for the verdict of this review, I have been hooked on WipeOut 2048. It’s fast, colourful and really injects a sense of intrigue into the imagination. If you think about it, within this fictional world, if going at 300 mph while firing rockets at each other in a urban street race is an established sport, then the world must be a real messed up place. WipeOut 2048 could be called an adaptation of the PlayStation 3 release ‘WipeOut HD’, however I think there is more to this handheld release than just being a mere ‘other version’. The presentation and game play of 2048 is stellar and is probably one of the best ways to get your zero-G racing fill.
As you boot up WipeOut 2048, you are greeted by a cinematic opening that really sets the scene for this fictional sport. The intro details the evolution of racing, showing the progression from Dick Van Dyke choices of vehicles, to F1 designed cars then into the anti gravity racing pods that we love from the series. It’s not something I would usually lap up, however I really appreciated this cut scene as it gave subtle background to the game without overwhelming the player with needless information when all they want to do is race irresponsibly. The opening scene also contains a teaser of what to expect in terms of in game soundtrack (with a Dj Fresh remix that you know belongs in this game). Once you get to that start screen, you are raring to go for some eye melting action, of which you are only a finger tap away from. The Vita’s touch screen is actually really pleasant to use while navigating the honeycomb style menus of the game and really cuts down on the amount of time fiddling with options.
Once you get into the game, you will get to experience the sensation that is letting your eyes be stolen by the Vita screen. The visuals are positively overwhelming, especially on the original Vita OLED screen, and really generates the hype before blast off in a race. One of my main concerns before playing this game was if the controls would be good enough to enjoy the game, of which the proved the be beyond my expectations. R1 will accelerate the vehicle, whilst the player can use ‘square’ to provide an extra boost when passing speed arrows and ‘X’ to use offensive and defensive weapons. Speaking of weapons, the player will always feel under threat, with AI players being only seconds away from giving you a rear end shunt. This really creates the sense that every player on the track really wants to win, even if that means murdering you just to even get 7th place. The added abundance of weapons and powerups also add to the absolute carnage that is a seemingly normal race in this game. The sheer aggression behind the nature of these races really sets the tone and aids to the stylish but gritty tone.
The environments within this game are also a bit different than previous editions. Usually when playing these games, the tracks feel like their purpose was to host these death races. However in 2048, the tracks for the most part actually feel like they’ve been set up in the middle of city streets, as if their inhabitants just need to put up with daily races. The design and architecture is amazing for a game that doesn’t give you the chance to enjoy the view, which is why most of this genre usually doesn’t bother applying the detail. The branching paths within tracks are also a delight, applying that unpredictable and fast paced element that is all too familiar to these games. I did feel however that this game required less track memorisation than previous games, as if sometimes it was down to impulse decisions that could impact your success in gaining time during the race.
There are some of the features of this game that I really didn’t pay much attention to, such as the motion controls which quite frankly work about as well as trying to eat your dinner off of Lindsay Lohans coffee table (you’ll end up jittery and confused). I also almost had this game working on a PlayStation TV, however the exploit I was using was banished forever by the unexpected firmware update (why does this game not work on it natively?!). As I don’t know anyone else with a copy of this game, I have no idea what the network play is like. However I assume it’s good, though I can’t be certain until I start making friends.
Overall this version of WipeOut is possibly my favourite of the series yet and brought some much needed love to my PS Vita. If you are into futuristic racing games like myself, I strongly urge you to have a shot of this, even if you manage to buy a PSTV for 20 bucks and follow an online guide to allow for compatibility.