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Review: Wipeout 2048 (Vita)

Wipeout 2048 is unlike any other Wipeout game before it. Of course Anti-Gravity racing makes a return, but it is mixed with a blend of both a modern and futuristic setting. It’s fast, addictive, challenging and quite brutal giving one of the best racing experiences to date.

I’ve been quite lucky with the games I have experienced on the PS Vita. All have been fantastic and Wipeout doesn’t disappoint in any way. It looks beautiful and plays well too. However, many veteran Wipeout fans may not feel that 2048 is the best game the series has offered up. As discussed in my initial impressions the difficulty, although still challenging, is not as hard as Wipeout HD.

Firstly the game is split into two separate pathways, a single player and a multiplayer campaign. The single player campaign consists of three different seasons of events, which gradually increase in difficulty. There are about thirty different events over all seasons.

However, these are split into the category of either a race, combat challenge, zone challenge or speed lap. So there is plenty of variety to the events on offer. Of course in order to progress you need to complete the Pass criteria for each event, but there is also an Elite Pass which requires you to complete additional objectives in the event. This gives the single player replay ability in the fact that you may want to go back and Elite Pass every event.

Also included in the single player pathway are prototype events. If passed they unlock new prototype ships from a livery. These are slightly more challenging than the other events and the last one is bordering on impossible for me.

The game looks fantastic; there is no question about that. It really shows off the power of the PS Vita. The streamline anti-gravity vehicles are presented wonderfully as well as the half futuristic and half modern backdrops. It also handles a lot on screen. With up to eight different vehicles racing all at the same time, as well as firing plasma bombs, shooting machine guns and leaving mines simultaneously, the frame rate is stable. In single player at least, you won’t experience any stutters. It is a smooth refined racing experience.

Handling is also a lot smoother. Cornering feels responsive and you will not find yourself using the wall as a turning aid as much as you used to. 2048 retains it’s fast speed giving the game an edge and challenge to manoeuvring around the track.

Weapons are a main element of the gameplay. You can either pick up offensive or defensive weapons. Offensive weapons range from rockets to homing missiles to a massive quake. Where as defensive weapons include mines, a shield and leeching beam.

These weapons are well implemented offering a tactical approach to a race in context to which position you are. For example, if in first aiming to pick up defensive weapons where as if lagging behind then you would need to go offensive. It certainly makes for a brutal experience. If you like the brutal combat side to the game then combat challenges will be your forte.

Zone challenge is one of the types of events you will have to complete in the single player pathway, as previously mentioned. I love the look of these events and I did so on Wipeout HD. All detail is removed from the track and replaced with flowing vibrant colours which pulse and change shades. The aim is to reach the highest zone as possible. To do this you simply need to race for as long as possible. The speed of the vehicle gradually increases as you pass through each zone, progressing through the different classes. Classes are different speed standards for events, ranging from D class up to Phantom.

In the Zone challenge as you reach the higher classes the track becomes very difficult to manoeuvre around. If you hit the sides and lose health it doesn’t regenerate fast. So soon you find yourself with low health desperately trying to corner, one mistake and your health reaches 0% and the vehicle is destroyed therefore ending the zone challenge. This is by far my favourite event as its very challenging and visually beautiful.

Moving on to the Multiplayer pathway it’s not as good as I hoped. Firstly I’ll start with the praises. It grasps the element of fun perfectly. Without a doubt it is one of the most enjoyable racing experiences. It’s explosive and very competitive. With a few PSN friends there is nothing better to play online than Wipeout 2048.

However, the above is only possible if the online works. Wipeout 2048 suffers from every possible online issue. Connecting to a lobby is harder than it sounds and even completing a lap without disconnecting is an achievement. When you are in a race or event there are real issues with lag. Other players stutter and jump all over the track. It’s a shame that this is the case, for me at least, for most of the online lobbies you join. I’ve only reached level three or so in the online pathway due to these problems. Hopefully these connection issues can be solved in the near future.

Excluding multiplayer, other than replaying single player events there is not much else you can do. It would have been nice to have the option to create an exhibition race but sadly all we are left with is the ability to complete speed laps on the circuits available. I can see that this single option alone isn’t enough to captivate someone’s interest for that long.

Overall Wipeout 2048 is actually a great game. Certainly one of the best on the Vita at the moment – even if there isn’t a lot to chose from. The main gameplay is fast, additive and brutal. It looks fantastic too, especially the zone challenges. Online is very enjoyable too aside from the connection issues which are unfortunately quite prominent. There could also be more single player options like exhibition races. If it’s futuristic racing you want though 2048 is the game to get.

Game Rate: 8/10