The Surfaris suffice
Let’s start by keeping it simple. If you love Wipeout, you’re going to love Wipeout 2048. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s as easy as that. The formula hasn’t changed, you still race ridiculously named vehicular around ridiculous techno tracks from the future, while listening to techno music. If you’ve ever played Wipeout HD on the PS3, you’re going to know exactly what to expect here; weapons (both attack and defence), speed pads, techno voice overs, and speed pads aplenty. Don’t think this is a negative tone I’ve got going here; too be fair, not much needs changing!
Let’s start with the single-player campaign. You’ve got three seasons to partake in; the 2048 season, 2049 season, and… any guesses? The 2050 season. Each season contains plenty of events that should take you around 40 minutes to pass. But that’s not where to stop, oh no, what you should be aiming for is the elite pass. These are the toughest accolades to earn, and require you to get insanely fast lap times, or a fairly gentle rack of points. The things with these are, they range in difficulty. Some are just right and will have you biting your lip, just trying to get that elite pass, others are to be described as ‘a piece of cake’ and don’t require too much effort or concentration. It’s often the races that have the hardest elite passes to gain, and missing of the elite pass by a few milliseconds is agonising, but will not fail to make you re-try again, and again, and again until you finally get that elite pass. It can be cruelly addicting.
If you don’t want to go for the elite passes, the racing itself if enjoyable, and will have you firing weapons and boosting over speed pads to get to pol position. There is a good variety of locations, although perhaps not enough. Some tracks are simply phenomenal, take “Sol” for example, that track is immense, exhilarating, and then some, but there are too few tracks to really have you excited throughout the entirety of a season. At the start of the season, you’ll be excited to try out the new tracks, see all the awesome jumps, turns and objects around you, but as you drag towards the end of a season, these become stale as they are repeated far too many times only in different modes. ‘Zone’ shakes things up a bit, a returning event from Wipeout HD, an event that makes the track neon and colourful, but ‘Time Trials’ or ‘Combat’ events are exactly the same as races as far as the track is concerned. What’s more, when in the 2050 season, you may even find yourself replaying tracks from season 2048! For the most part, the tracks are great, better than your average racer, but ruined by the fact that they are over-used.
Back on to a positive note, it is the best looking Wipeout to date, but you’d expect that on the OLED screen. I’m going to use the track ‘Sol’ again as an example. When you are flying off jumps, or heading downhill, the environment looks magnificent, and it’s hard to believe that this is happening on a handheld, not on a PS3. The vehicles themselves all look unique and have various different paint jobs. But how do they handle? Well that depends on the vehicle you choose. There are three classes; Speed, Agility, and Fighter. These are all fairly self-explanatory. Speed vehicles are obviously going to be the fastest, but not the strongest, and not the nippiest (if that’s even a word). The Agility is the class for getting around the bends easier, without worrying about bumping into the barriers, and the Fighter class are obviously home to the strongest vehicles but not as fast or nippy. They really do all feel different and you’re sure to pick one as your favourite. I like the Agility class as they are less likely to crash. There is also the bonus ‘Prototype’ class which can be unlocked by finding hidden events in the career. These are essentially all the other classes mashed together.
You’ll also be pleased to know that the game sounds great. The vehicles all sound the same, disregard of the class, but they all sound just right. Going in the air and crashing back down will signal a thud. The soundtrack is top draw too, no genre would be better than techno for a game like this and some of the tunes are a joy to play to.
Not forgetting multiplayer, as this is one of the few Vita games to have such functionality, is on the whole just as good as the single-player. Winning races feels great, and it shows a leader board in between races of who has won the most races in that session. I might also point out that from my experience; it is completely lag-free. There were no problems in that department. The one questionable aspect of the multiplayer mode is how you have a photo taken at the start of each race. Seems like a cool idea, because then at the end everyone can see the face of the person who beat them (no taking pictures of the genital region mind! That’s a no go.) Although, you could. I know that sounds weird, but you could take a picture of whatever you want, you know why? Because no-one gets to see the picture! It doesn’t show anyone! It says that your photo will be sent to the other racers. Bullshit. I didn’t receive any photos from anyone. It could’ve have been a cool feature and could have been implemented really well, but it’s not! Hopefully a patch will be released to fix the issue (still no naughty snaps though you dirty person.) However I’m sure someone will, you’ll be receiving pics of hairy men in no time! (PEGI 7 by the way, or, rated E for Everyone.)
Now let’s not forget that this game is on the PS Vita, for all you know what I’ve just described could easily go down as a PSN game. So how does it make use of the Vita? And why isn’t it just a PSN game? Well, it’s good and bad. The menus use the touchscreen (as always) and also use the rear touch panel for some not needed effects in the menus. You can also pinch in or out to zoom in or out like you would on a tablet. But that’s just about it (along with the useless camera in multiplayer), none of them are implemented in game, which is a shame, I think tapping the rear touch panel to fire weapons could work. Now onto the bad news, this game can hurt your hands, and it’s not the most comfortable game to play. Some races can be up to 5 minutes and holding down the right bumper flat-out for that long can pain, and will probably make it become numb. The other problem is the positioning of the left-thumb stick. Having to bend your thumb for 5 minutes rather than relax it can also be a problem. So why not just pause the game? Problem #3; the start button is in an awkward position and is far too small, that by the time you manage to hit it, you might have lost a couple valuable places in the race. I wouldn’t say it’s the controls that are dodgy, more the mapping of them. Perhaps using the d-pad to steer rather than the left analogue stick would work. You could say its SONY’s fault, but there were alternatives for Studio Liverpool.
All in all Wipeout 2048 is an addicting racer that will have you coming back for more to try and get that elite pass. It’s got the visuals and the audio going for it, but is by no means perfect. The use of the camera (if you can even call it a ‘use’) is broken, and the mapping of the controls isn’t too easy to get to grips with, and could have you straining your thumb/finger. These niggles stop it from being a brilliant game, and instead ‘just’ a great one.
More of the same really, the glorious same.
-Trying to get the elite pass can be hugely addicting
-Multiplayer gives you the bragging rights
-Some astoundingly brilliant tracks
-Terrible implementation of camera
-Dodgy control mapping leads to painful hands
-Tracks are repeated far too often