In The Zone: Why WipEout 2048 Is The Vita’s System Seller

Technology rumbles on. Nowhere is this more emphasised than in WipEout 2048’s glorious intro video, which charts a piecemeal history of the Feisar brand; from 60’s racing cars so real Stirling Moss himself might have just missed out on them through to modern day Formula One vehicles, near future hybrid machines and – finally – ships more closely resembling the WipEout rides we’re used to.

It’s a smart, knowing slice of video.  Racer competition gets tougher, the vehicles faster, and, ultimately, wheels morph into anti-grav jets with a clunk and a whirr that begs to be listened to via a decent set of headphones.  Indeed, playing the game itself through the Vita’s tiny speakers, with its distinctive buzz and whine, is something of an injustice.  I’ve never before had a constant grin on my face just from a game’s audio design.

[drop2]2048, then, is WipEout’s first venture, the first races.  The setting, New York, resembles the Big Apple enough that major landmarks are instantly recognisable (and in the case of the Empire State Building, raceable) and yet simultaneously provides a skeletal framework for bolted on sections of track and spectator-filled grandstands.

You’ll race through Times Square, for example, but you’ll do so under a Blade Runner-esque neon glow.

The setting works brilliantly, never before has the WipEout series felt so grounded, so real.  The trademark elements seen in older (but chronologically later) games are found here and there over 2048’s three year career mode – huge air-filled characters, giant advertising screens – but they’re far less obvious, showing perhaps a sport’s struggle to find sponsorship during it’s début outings.

Visually the game is just as powerful as it is aurally.  Much improved from an already impressive E3 showing, 2048 is now sharp, smooth and lacking any sort of compromise apart from the game dimming to 80% brightness as the countdown ticks over to Go! (like some other Vita titles, WipEout’s on what developers are calling a ‘Power Budget’) – this is a stunning, often breathtaking example of what Vita can do.

The controls are near-perfection, too.  The analog stick provides precise adjustments but the d-pad, if you’re used to the tap-tap-tap digital steering from earlier games, works brilliantly.  The default settings offer just a single airbrake and a simpler set-up, but switching back to ‘WipEout’ mode will instantly satisfy the hardcore.  With airbrakes on the triggers, throttle on Cross and weapons on Square, all is well.

[drop]But above all this is a game that just oozes masses of content.

From the stark, crisp splash screen with chunky square buttons through to the pinch-and-scroll campaign map (which offers plenty of non-linearity) and pop-up sub-menus (where you can change your craft, check your friend’s times and move between modes) everything is designed to ensure players feel comfortable within the WipEout system.

Each element of the single player grid can be any one of a number of modes, and these can be distilled further: races start off without weapons, for example, but the game now splits offensive and defensive items, and either or both can be on or off.  There’s time trials, battles and the wonderful Zone mode too, the latter of which offers some of the best graphics I’ve seen on any platform for months.  Running Zone at A+ speed is a mesmerising delight.

Negatives?  The load times are lengthy, the Time Trial modes don’t offer a ‘best time’ ghost which makes perfecting your run trickier than necessary and you’re never told what you need to get for the ‘Elite Pass’ until you’ve tried a level and got the regular ‘Pass’, which can mean jumping back to the menus and then re-loading.  Hopefully these niggles can be patched out, though.

In short, WipEout 2048 is fabulous.  It’s been my go-to game for the last few days (nudging the brilliant Uncharted out of the way) and all this is without the multiplayer portion being activated yet.  I’ve shown the game to a few people, and all have either added it to their pre-order list, or thought seriously about grabbing themselves a Vita – that’s how good this game looks, sounds and feels.

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53 Comments

  1. What if i simply don’t like Wipeout? Like, at all?

    • Then you won’t like this.

    • I used to feel the same… Then I found the airbrakes

    • I’m with you on this. I got wipeout on PS3 for free (after psn down). Just cannot get into it – all too quick for me and I can’t understand whats going on.

      • Turn on Pilot Assist- that’s what I did to get my sister into Wipeout. After a while, turn it off- it’ll seem much easier than just jumping in the deep end, but eventually you’ll end up in the ocean.

      • I’m the same, love some racing action, but it’s just never clicked for me.

        This looks jaw-dropping though, but surprised they didn’t shave a few columns of pixels off though so they could target 60fps, I presume gameplay isn’t affected by doubling of response time

      • Nah, WOHD plays fine in 3D (and 30fps) – at least it’s smooth.

    • Same, I think it’s the vehicles/ships. Partly why I like racing games is because I’m into cars, so unfortunately this doesn’t really appeal, although I can apprecaite it, and I know it has a pretty good following.

      • Yeah, looks so generic techno-ish.

    • Daftest question ever. *applauds*

  2. If I decide to get a Vita, this will be my first purchase. Cheers for reaffirming that nofi.

    • Got it pre-ordered so it’ll be my first too, if I don’t cancel my Vita that is. Got a small niggle in the back of my head saying ‘do I really need a Vita’.

      • So how does the PS3 cross play work? Will it be a new game on PS3 or a patch to Wipeout HD/Fury?

      • A patch if one is needed.
        From what I understand, the Wipeout HD tracks are being included in the online for 2048.

  3. “I’ve shown the game to a few people, and all have either added it to their pre-order list, or thought seriously about grabbing themselves a Vita”

    Yep, it’s on my list now that’s for sure!

  4. Can’t wait for this! :)

  5. WipEout is probably the only racing franchise that I actually really like. This article just makes me want to have the game… Damn you, Alex! :P

  6. What’s the soundtrack like? Always been a goal of mine to get a tune on a wipeout game.

      • Sweet! Also, just clicked on the link with the ships and I love the Pir-Hana ship design. It’s always been my favourite team. It’s cool to see how different the design is compared to the newer models.

      • Awesome, some stunning tracks and artists there, always nice to see Orbital and FSOL on a soundtrack :D

      • Nice list. This is easily the most tempting Vita game so far.

  7. Wow sounds amazing. definitely on my recorder list now too

  8. Wipeout is one of the best games for me on the PS3, I’m not surprised that it is one of the best on the VITA too! Can’t wait for this! *Wonders how the hell I’m going to afford it all*

  9. Wipeout is the reason I’ll get a Vita asap. Since the psx days I’ve loved the series, and WOHD was the only game I was even remotely bothered with getting the platinum in (which I finally did not so long ago)
    Everything about these games I love. The only ones I’m not that into are the original (2097 was such an improvement) and Fusion (which still introduced the Zone mode, so wasn’t all bad)
    Yay! Wipeout!

    • Granted 2097 was a huge improvement (though the soundtrack didn’t work as well) but in its day the original was a revelatory experience for me. It was Wipeout, Tekken and Ridge Racer that really made me go – “wow!” at the original Playstation.

  10. I cannot wait for this. Should be awesome even on Vita same applies to Uncharted aswell. Looking forward to it.

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