WipEout 2048 Review for PS Vita

WipEout 2048 Review for PS Vita

Deceptively Disappointing, But Entirely Entertaining.

When the PlayStation Portable hit the market in 2005, WipEout Pure was among the titles that ushered Sony into the portable gaming world. By the time the PSP was released, the WipEout franchise had already played a significant role in the PlayStation and PS2’s life cycles, and even dipped its toe into Nintendo’s end of the pool. Actually, I might even go so far to say that no Sony console is really complete without a WipEout title in its lineup. So it seems entirely appropriate that WipEout 2048 would be among the PlayStation Vita’s Launch titles.

Like the previous entries in the series, WipEout 2048 has a pretty simple formula: floating cars + laser guns + techno music = good racing. However, unlike the earlier incarnations, 2048 is actually a bit more grounded. (I honestly feel pretty guilty for writing that a game about anti-gravity racing feels “grounded,” but I’m going to stand by it.)

WipEout 2048 Screenshot

See, WipEout 2048 is actually a prequel of sorts to the previous WipEout titles. The game, quite predictably, takes place in 2048 during the advent of anti-gravity racing. This means that, instead of racing across some unidentifiable futuristic cityscape, players frequently pass by (or over) recognizable landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge or the Empire State Building. So, the game isn’t “grounded” under the literal definition of the word, but it does have a certain approachability that pervious the titles might not have had.

Actually, approachability is something that the developers were obviously looking to highlight in WipEout 2048. The controls are a bit more forgiving in this version and the tracks are wider, which makes ping-ponging off the walls less likely when you’re first starting out. I’m sure that hardcore WipEout fans will probably be a bit disappointed with the anesthetized difficulty, but sometimes developers need to put bumpers in the bowling alley to make it fun for everyone.

Plus, by leveling the playing field a bit, SCE Studios has crafted a title that feels like a throwback racer in the best possible way. In fact, were it not for 2048’s impressive display of graphical prowess, this WipEout title could have easily been poured out of the same mold as classic racing titles like F-Zero and Super Mario Kart.

WipEout 2048 Screenshot

If you’ve played even a single racing game sometime within the last decade, you’re probably well aquatinted with the controls for WipEout 2048 (seriously, the learning curve is actually that shallow). One button operates the gas pedal, one fires your weaponry, and one controls the brake. But you can probably forget about that last one. In the year 2048, brakes get in the way of racing victories.

The controls get a little more complicated during the Combat game mode (previously called Eliminator), but it’s nothing to worry about. Also, throughout the campaign, you’ll learn a few little tricks that will eventually separate the men from the boys during a multiplayer campaign, but they don’t really extend your lead by much in the single-player mode.

Like most of the other Vita launch titles, WipEout 2048 gives gamers the option to use a few of the other unconventional control options. WipEout allows you to setup the Sixaxis gyroscope as the primary steering device and the rear touchpad to control your weaponry. But, unfortunately, this setup is only for people who hate having fun.

WipEout 2048 Screenshot

The map design, though, is incredibly intricate and each level has a certain sense of rhythm. Every track has several different paths which may or may not shave a few tenths of a second off your lap time. However, the most interesting part of the map design is how vertical it is. When you’re on ground level, the game feels like your bog standard racing game, but as the road twists and climbs through the city, you’ll find yourself several stories in the air, which can be a potentially dangerous situation. (Anyone remember Rainbow Road from Mario Kart 64?)

However, even though each map offers its own unique challenges, only ten maps are included with the package. So, I don’t really expect WipEout 2048 to become a mainstay in multiplayer gaming. Though, the developer has tried to make up for the lack of maps with a large number of unlocks (for both multiplayer and single-player modes). And, I must admit, I always get a little excited whenever I unlock a swanky new vehicle.

Of course, when I fired WipEout 2048 up for the first time, I was instantly impressed with the intricate cityscapes. Each individual level has its own graphical look and feel, but the details actually feel oppressive at times.

However, the fact that WipEout is the only game that actually tests the Vita’s graphical capability is more an indictment on the other launch titles rather than a compliment about WipEout’s graphics. Sure, they look great and are somewhat impressive on the Vita’s tiny frame. But they’re significantly less interesting than previous editions. In fact, if we’re being entirely honest, WipEout 2048 looks like it could have easily found a home on the PS2 in a different life.

This isn’t to say that the graphics aren’t appropriate. They are. But graphics can be appropriate without being impressive, and, considering the inordinately long load times, they really should be more impressive.

WipEout 2048 Screenshot

Also, I should mention that it only runs at 30 FPS, which will most likely force your lips into a frustrated frown if you’ve been gaming on your PS3 recently.

Unfortunately, the logical side of me thinks that WipEout 2048 is going to have a short life on the same shelf with triple-A titles like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Sure, the multiplayer is interesting and the unlocks might keep some gamers entertained for a while, but it won’t be long before playing the same ten tracks on repeat becomes fairly monotonous.

Also, if you’re even remotely competent behind the wheel, you should have no problem winning every single race. Simply keep the throttle on full and avoid the walls. Very little thought is required.

Now here’s the thing: WipEout 2048 is an interesting little title with a surprising amount of depth for a game that’s so shallow in the content department. The graphics are rock solid and the controls are everything you would expect. However, the drawbacks are almost too much to ignore.

If you’ve got $40 to spare or you’re waiting for the next triple-A Vita title to drop, it might be good for a few laughs. But it’s probably not going to last more than a few hours, which makes it an expensive investment when compared to most of your other options.

Considering the lengthy load times, the graphics should be better. 5.0 Control
It’s hard to mess up a decade-old control setup. 4.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Techno Music isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. 3.5 Play Value
Oppressive map design and shallow replay value. 4.0 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Intuitive touch interface, motion active tilt, and voice activated controls take anti-gravity racing to the next level.
  • Race up to 8 PS3 players simultaneously in Multiplayer CrossPlay.
  • Take on the challenge of the online campaign mode and dominate online leaderboards.
  • 10 new tracks optimized for intuitive and interactive controls.

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