For those few that have never played any games from the Wipeout series before, Wipeout is all about racing hovercrafts across futuristic racetracks. The PS Vita launch title is less stylized than the previous entries and has a tad of an urban racer feel, but it doesn’t stop that sense of Wipeout racing that I have come to love.
Getting through the tracks in Wipeout requires you to race fast and have a firm hand on the air brake to fly around every corner without a care in the world…except for those incoming missiles, bombs and mines. Spread throughout the courses are various speed and weapon pads that will help you achieve ultimate victory. The weapon pads are now divided into two different variations — green for defensive weapons such as bombs that can be dropped or a leech attack that will drain a ship’s health and replenish yours; and the yellow for offensive missiles and cannon fire. Knowing when to pickup a defensive weapon instead of an offensive weapon is the key. Making the wrong decision could be disastrous in a tight race.
The single player campaign spans three racing seasons from 2048-2050. New events are unlocked on a honeycomb-type grid like in the previous PSN title, Wipeout HD. As you progress through the events, the speed classes gradually increase, so if you never used the air brake in the first season, expect to have to use it to finish within the top 3 in each race during the last 2 seasons.
For only having 10 different tracks, Wipeout 2048 does a good job at breaking up the tracks into varying modes that make the tracks feel different in each mode. The available modes are pretty standard such as racing, time trials, zone races and combat events. There are also additional restrictions that may require you to use a specific type of ship or limit the weapons allowed in the event. This helps it from feeling the same each and every time.
The load times are one of my biggest faults with the game and even with the patch released before the official launch of the system; you’ll still be waiting over 30 seconds for each event to load. Wipeout 2048 also boasts an online multiplayer mode with up to 8 players. As soon as you connect, you will be placed in a lobby with other racers with preference going to people on your friends list first. There aren’t many options to choose from; in fact there aren’t any options to choose from besides selecting an event and choosing your ship. There is no spectator option either; joining a mid-race will leave you sitting bored in a lobby. Helping to unlock new events are specific challenges as well. In one combat race, the challenge was simply to use a weapon on an opponent. Even if I lose, which I did, I still got the elite pass because I completed the challenge.
You can’t choose what type of event you will be in as it is all generated for you, so if you don’t want to be in a combat event expect to disconnect and reconnect to the online session a few times until you find an actual race. Even if you are in ad-hoc local multiplayer, you aren’t allowed to set any of the options. This is very troublesome for if you wanted to play with your best bud, but wanted to add AI opponents to race with, you are unable to. Wipeout is just not designed for a 1v1 race. Wipeout is at its best when the entire racing grid is filled.
After finishing an event the lobby is able to vote between two different maps. Utilizing the Near app included with the Vita, you are able to share ghost data and be notified if a friend or someone close to you beat your time or score on a track.
There is no doubt about it: Wipeout 2048 is a very slick, good looking game. The environments and tracks are as detailed as ever, but the game only runs at 30 FPS instead of the super smooth 60 FPS of Wipeout HD.
Speaking of the PS3 version, Wipeout 2048 supports cross-play, so you can challenge those playing Wipeout HD, and more later using the Fury DLC.
One flaw I have noted with Wipeout is due to the standby mode of the Vita itself. By default the Vita will enter this standby after 1 minute, but waiting in the lobby for the race to begin followed by the long load times of the race itself, I actually had my Vita enter Standby mode will it was still loading the race. The split second of disconnected service was enough to cause a server drop: when it finished loading every ship blew up on the starting grid followed by the connection was lost.
Wipeout 2048 is a solid addition to the PS Vita launch lineup and is no doubt the best of the racing games released so far. Even so, the single player campaign doesn’t last too long and with the current lack of options in multiplayer it does get frustrating when you are forced into an event you cannot stand. Getting the elite passes in all of the events will take some time as well as unlocking all of the 20 different ships. A patch is already in progress to add more options to the multiplayer portion as well as the addition of the Fury DLC. Just like Wipeout HD, we could be playing Wipeout 2048 well into the life of the Vita.Note: Wipeout 2048 was reviewed on PlayStation Vita. A physical copy of the game was purchased by SelectButton.