Game Rant's Anthony Mole reviews WipEout 2048
Accompanying the launch of the PS Vita are some of Sony's most beloved IP's - one of the most prominent being the WipEout franchise. The futuristic racer has always been synonymous with the PlayStation brand, and now Studio Liverpool hopes to continue the trend with WipEout 2048.
Unfortunately, while the game is fun, it does have one major problem: a lack of innovation.
From the moment players boot up the game they'll notice that WipEout 2048's UI has been tailored to suit the mobile platform. Races appear against a backdrop of white hexagons and players use the touch screen to select the one they want to partake in. There are very few menus to navigate and races are always just a touch or two away. Players can zoom in and out of the race selection screen by "pinching" the Vita's touch screen - much like a browser on any smartphone.
While selecting a race is very easy and intuitive, WipEout 2048 does suffer from some lengthy load times. A patch was released shortly after launch to decrease the wait times, but unfortunately they do still exist. Thankfully, once the race has loaded it runs smooth as butter. When restarting a race the load times are significantly decreased - so don't worry about messing up and then having to stare at another loading screen.
Surprisingly, the game's default controls are very different from WipEout HD. In the PS3 game 'X' was used to accelerate, yet in 2048 it's the right shoulder button. Players can opt to switch the controls to a more traditional button layout if they so prefer, though sadly the options for custom controls are absent. However, the game still plays nicely on the Vita, and it's easy to race for long periods of time without hand cramps.
Unfortunately, WipEout 2048 does suffer from one glaring issue - it's basically just a handheld version of WipEout HD. Yes, there are new tracks and a brand new UI but few substantial changes have been made. The three main game modes, Race, Battle and Zones all return and are largely unchanged from the main PS3 game. Race is still racing, Battle is still battling, and Zones is still doing as many laps around an increasingly fast-moving track as possible before losing all of your health. Speed laps return as well but aside from that there isn't really anything new. The gameplay is still solid and the modes are still fun - but there's little variation to be found.
If there's one interesting thing WipEout 2048 adds - it's prototype race crafts. These are special variants of the game's anti-gravity crafts that can only be unlocked through winning secret events. The first one players are likely to unlock is the Prototype Feisar Racer, which allows for the craft's top speed to increase each time it goes over a speed pad. These crafts can come in really handy, not only during single player but during WipEout 2048's multiplayer as well. It becomes much easier to overtake the competition when using a craft that has a variable top speed.
The multiplayer menu for WipEout 2048 is largely the same as the title's singleplayer. Once again players just tap the event they want and are instantly put into a lobby. The multiplayer starts off with only one available event and once players succeed in the event, they will unlock the next, and so on. The requirements for a pass generally start off as something simple - such as "finish the event." But even if players cannot pass events they need not worry about never progressing - since, after three attempts at an event, the game will automatically unlock the next one.
The multiplayer itself is fun, and once again feels like a WipEout title. Players can take part in either regular races or battle events - just as in the main campaign. However, at the time of the review, there were two problems - 1) no parties and 2) disconnect errors. It's easy to get disconnected from a game. It doesn't happen too frequently but when it does it can be really frustrating. The no party option is probably the worst offense, considering WipEout 2048 is one of the flagship launch titles for a device that focuses on connectivity. The game says it will attempt to match players up with their friends, but it seems odd to just leave it up to chance. The problem is made even worse considering the amount of connectivity that's actually present in the game. Before playing a race players can compare scores with their friends, see their place on the leaderboards, share data regarding their in-game accomplishments, etc. It's near impossible to fathom why Studio Liverpool would think a party system wasn't necessary.
WipEout 2048 is also one of the Vita titles that supports cross-platform play with the PS3. In this case, players will partake in WipEout HD's multiplayer component and race against PS3 users. The cross platform play works well, the only issue seems to be the 2048's load times. It's not uncommon to have all of the PS3 users ready and waiting before the Vita users, though thankfully once the loading is done with the multiplayer runs smoothly, and there didn't seem to be any disconnect errors.
In the end, the best way to describe WipEout 2048 is that it's a WipEout title on a handheld. No more, no less. It's fun, it plays well, but it's very unchanged compared to WipEout HD. Are fans of the franchise going to enjoy the experience? Yes, certainly, just don't expect to find a game that turns the series on its head.
WipEout 2048 is available now for the PS Vita.
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