Sony’s seminal futuristic racing series boosts its way onto the Vita with Wipeout 2048, a throwback, of sorts, to the early days of anti-grav racing. With graphics that take full advantage of the Vita’s OLED display, an array of touch controls, and cross-platform multiplayer, Wipeout proves itself worthy of taking up a slot in your Vita library.
Visually, Wipeout is stunning. The graphics pop off of the screen and are incredibly impressive for a portable system, let alone a launch title on one. The Zone levels, in particular, stand out with an all out assault of color and style. Perhaps the most important aspect of a racing game is the sense of speed and that really stands out in 2048. Scenery blows past as you zoom through the very well designed tracks. These tracks are a departure for the series. Because in 2048 Anti-Grav racing is just getting its start, no dedicated anti-grav tracks have yet been built. Instead, tracks twist and turn through the city, showcasing the semi-futuristic architecture. These tracks are wider than previous editions of the series, which both offers more forgiving lines for novice racers to cruse down and also allows for a greater focus on the combat.
Those familiar with the intense action of the series will feel right at home. Despite the portable package, the game plays nearly exactly the same as its big brother on the PS3. I was initially concerned that the shorter range of the Vita’s analog stick would make sensitive turns more difficult, but those fears were quickly dispelled once I started taking spins around the track. You also have the option of using the Vita’s motion control capabilities to control your racer. While these controls work better than the Sixaxis control on PS3, it still isn’t as responsive as the sticks. The touchscreen can be used to fire or absorb weapons, although, again, I preferred the traditional button controls.
The selection of modes on display is somewhat lacking, but still manages to contain just about everything you would want. The single player mode consists of a campaign, branching off through the different race types like Zone, Time Trials, and standard races. Unfortunately, missing is the Race Box mode which allowed players to create their own grids stocked with the race types they enjoy. This mode would have made a great addition to 2048, and its absence leaves a void. The game also features multiplayer, including cross-platform play with Wipeout HD on the PS3.
Perhaps the biggest flaw in the game is the lengthy load time between races. Despite a day one patch to cut these down, they are still considerable. No one likes load times, but they are especially difficult to swallow on a portable console where both speed and accessibility are key. The load times are substantially shorter when restarting races, which does help.
Fans of the Wipeout series, or fast paced racing in general, should definitely find a place in their library for 2048. Despite the load time issues, the game is a great option for either ten minutes or two hours of playtime. Diversity of genre is important to have at a system launch, and in a crowded early library for racers, Wipeout clearly stands out as the best of the pack.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.