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Wipeout 2048 Review

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On 02/27/2012 at 02:00 PM by Vic Roman

Gorgeous visuals, ultra-fast racing, and great online options place in the top three while the loading screen loses the race.

For any Wipeout fan and all early Vita adopters with an itch for some racing.

Wipeout 2048 makes its debut on the freshly released Vita hoping to capture the hearts of racing fanatics through ultra-fast racing and jaw-dropping visuals. It acts as a prequel to the series, setting you in the not too distant future where modern day architecture meets futuristic technology.

There are ten original racetracks that use a mix of modern and futuristic visuals to create unforgettable backdrops. You will go through memorable landscapes including downtown streets, a stadium, or above a huge city, each with a massive racetrack built on top. My only complaint is that I wish there were more than ten tracks. They become a little bit too familiar throughout the game’s campaigns.

Every race has multiple paths to soar through and each road is a bit wider than in previous Wipeout titles, which gives you a bit more room for error in terms of steering. It’s probably a good thing because you’re going to want to look away from the steering wheel at any chance to view the beauty of each track.

The graphics are nearly identical to Wipeout HD on the PS3 and the art direction of the new racetracks is the best of the series. The melding of today’s world with tomorrow’s technology makes every track look gorgeous and you’ll likely be watching replays after you’ve done a race to oogle the eye candy. These great graphics do come at a small price though – sometimes the high amount of detail on screen can make it tough to see a corner or obstacle approaching you. This isn’t a huge problem, as race memorization is key to victory so you’ll end up practicing races until you learn them anyways.

Doing the same ten races over and over again will get a little tiring after a few hours, but the racing gains some longevity with its variety of vehicles and weapons. There are a few different vehicle makers to choose from, each with four different vehicle classes – one vehicle per class. The four classes are Speed, Fighter, Agility, and Prototype. The Speed class offers the fastest vehicles, while Agility have better handling at the expense of a slower top speed. The Fighter class is slow but powerful with a ton of health and the best weapon pick-ups. The Prototype class has no universal feature, but each vehicle maker’s Prototype class offers unique abilities – for example, the Feisar Prototype is the quickest vehicle in the game. The Speed and Agility classes are what you will probably choose for all racing modes, while Fighter class is only suited for combat events.

Racing with different vehicles doesn’t drastically alter the experience, but each vehicle class offers different weapons and items to help change things up. The weapons and power-ups have slightly changed from past Wipeout titles. In Wipeout HD there was one type of item power-up scattered about races which would give you a random item, but Wipeout 2048 splits power-ups into offensive and defensive items. Flying over an offensive item gives you access to goodies such as rockets, machine guns, or a powerful quake that shakes up all of the other racers. The defensive power-ups give you a protective shield, temporary auto-pilot, or a leech-beam that steals the health of another player. You can also choose to "absorb" the item, which replenishes some of your vehicle's health. The two power-up categories add a layer of strategy to each event that help Wipeout 2048 stand out compared to past titles in the series.

Wipeout 2048 controls nearly identically to Wipeout HD. This is a very good thing because both games rely on quick steering and the ability to take tight turns. The quick-reacting controls and razor sharp handling means you can easily recover after hitting a wall or obstacle. However, Wipeout 2048’s steering isn’t quite as good as Wipeout HD’s. The Vita’s small analog sticks don’t allow for as much degree of movement as a PS3 controller, so the handing and steering is a little bit touchy. The wide racetracks compensate for the steering, so it never proves to be a problem. It will still get very challenging to navigate through tight spaces. The controls are an admirable emulation of Wipeout HD’s and make for a familiar experience to anyone who played past Wipeout titles.

If you’re interested in trying out the Vita’s motion controls, Wipeout 2048 includes optional motion steering. However, the motion steering is extremely difficult to control, making it nearly impossible to win a race. Just stick with the default.

The only hitch in the presentation is the low frame rate (30fps, as opposed to Wipeout HD’s 60fps) and slow load times. The lowered frame rate doesn’t hinder the gameplay though; Wipeout 2048 is still the fastest and best looking racing game on any handheld device. The sense of speed, even at 30fps, is very impressive.

The load times are the other problem, but one that has been somewhat alleviated. When the game was released, loading a track would take an atrocious 45-60 seconds. However, two patches later it's down to 20-30 seconds. The newly reduced load times make a world of difference, as it was hard to recommend an on-the-go game that took a minute to load each race. With that said, 20-30 seconds still isn’t quick by any means – it’s the absolute maximum length of time I’d consider acceptable.

While Wipeout 2048 omits a couple of gameplay modes from Wipeout HD and Wipeout Fury, it still comes packed with a ton of options: Racing, Combat, Time Trials, and Zone (Detonator and Eliminator didn't make the cut).

Racing and Time Trials are standard and need no introduction, but Combat lets you focus on picking up weapons and attacking your opponents for points. Zone races are similar to time trials, but you have no control over your acceleration as you gradually speed up through a visually-altered track that uses simple, bright neon colors in place of the highly detailed graphics. The goal of a Zone race is to see how many zones you can accelerate through before your vehicle is destroyed. It's very fun and challenging.

The single player campaign lets you race, fight, trial, and zone through three seasons of racing from 2048 to 2050. Instead of difficulty settings, each season becomes more difficult than the one before. The game starts out fairly easy, but by the time you hit 2050 you will be struggling to pass events. If you fail too many times you are given the option to skip ahead to the next event with no penalty and in 2050 you are definitely tempted to skip one or two events.

The multiplayer campaign gives you specific objectives to complete while racing and battling online. Racing and Combat are the only two modes available in multiplayer. For each multiplayer event you have the option of taking a photo of yourself that will appear at the end of the race if you place in the top three spots. It doesn’t change anything to the gameplay, but the photo option is a nice way to put a face on the person you just skimmed ahead of at the finish line. Luckily, I haven’t seen anything inappropriate being photographed as of yet.

Ad Hoc mode simply allows you to do races and combat locally with other Vita owners. Most interesting though is Cross-Play mode. Cross-Play allows you to play online against Wipeout Fury owners on the PS3, where you go through the 8 racetracks originally created for Fury. The only sad thing about this is that it is the only area of the game where you can access the 8 Fury tracks, but being able to play simultaneously with PS3 players proves the high power of the Vita’s guts.

The load times in multiplayer are just as long as the single player campaign, but luckily that’s the only issue. I experienced no lag while playing online in any of the modes and the high quality of my online experience felt no different than my offline experience. This is quite an accomplishment for a racing game that's very quick paced and visually detailed.

Wipeout 2048 proves to be a great success with its head turning graphics, beautiful art design, creative tracks, and high speed racing. It is only brought down by unimpressive load times, a slightly small racetrack selection, and a lack of fan favorite gameplay modes. The pros greatly outweigh the cons and Wipeout 2048 is a game any early Vita adopter should at least check out.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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