Monday, 27 February 2012

Review: Wipeout 2048

Wipeout has always been a reliable franchise for Sony. Throughout all their consoles, we have seen various iterations of the series and the quality, while dipping with the PS2 incarnation, has always remained rather consistent. So it should come as no surprise that we find a brand new Wipeout game for the brand new Sony hand held console, and I'm pleased to say the quality still holds true.

For those unfamiliar with the series, Wipeout is not referring to the BBC TV show where Richard Hammond laughs at people falling in water, but rather a futuristic zero gravity racing series which has been very popular. The single player campaign in this latest game is set out very simply, you are shown a menu of events to compete in, earning a pass or elite pass in one event will unlock the next event to play.

There are 4 different type of events to play: Time Trial, Combat, Zone Mode and Race. Time Trial and Race are what you might expect, finish the course under a certain amount of time and finish the course before the other players. Combat ditches the idea of speed and makes your objective to just hit your opponents with as much firepower as you can, this mode can be fun but also rather frustrating at times when you never get the power ups that you want. Zone Mode is where the game really shines for me. In Zone Mode, the entire course that you're in turns into a colourful neon re imagining of what it normally is and you are put into a ship that is constantly speeding up. The idea is to just survive as long as possible as your speed continues to grow and controlling the ship becomes more difficult as a result. Not only that, but as you speed up, the colours of the race course itself start shifting and changing, it's both entertaining to play and watch due to the colourfulness.

Wipeout 2048 also has a very unique multiplayer. Instead of having a Call of Duty esque levelling up system where you gain bonuses for being better at the game. You are given a menu, much like the single player, where you select a challenge to take. Early challenges are rather simple such as “Finish an event” or “Hit an opponent with a weapon”. One you select a challenge, you are immediately put into a game, without choosing what course or even what mode. completing these challenges allows you to level up in the multiplayer in a similar way to how you level up in the single player. This, blend of single player and multiplayer helps make the multiplayer feel more compelling and attractive than I've found in many other games.

The gameplay itself is really fun, each ship controls differently, and you end up knowing what ship would be best to use in a particular event. Using the wrong ship in an even can have terrible effects and will produce results that can barely get you a pass. However, switch over to a ship that is well suited, and the the difference is like night and day, and you'll end up easily getting an elite pass. The only gripe comes with the controls. By default, acceleration is mapped to the right trigger and braking on the left trigger, this may seem sensible but Wipeout really requires the use of left and right air brakes to get the best control, this can be switched in the options so that the X button accelerates and then the L and R triggers brake on the respective sides. It just seems odd the the developers wouldn't make this the default option.

The soundtrack to the game is also very notable. You have a lot of 90s sounding rave music which the entire Wipeout series is best known for such as tracks from The Prodigy, Kraftwerk and even Deadmau5. Most of which a memorable and all left me with a desire to play with my headphones plugged in just to hear them better.

The game is not perfect though, there are some things worth mentioning that did detract from the experience. This is usually UI stuff that got me like when you select an event, you can pick your ship if you want but it's not a mandatory option. If you don't, it goes with the ship you last selected and this can lead to results where you've got a slow moving but heavy firepower ship in a time trial event. If you do decide to select a new ship, the game will put you back to the event selection screen once you have, meaning you have to find the event you just selected again. It is also missing the feature of cross play with Wipeout HD on the PS3, this is currently a selectable option in the game but it does nothing because an Wipeout HD needs an update for it to work.

While these issues do detract from the experience, Wipeout 2048 is by no means a bad game. On the contrary, I think it's probably the best game out on the Vita at the moment. If you are a recent buyer of a Vita or are going to be buying one in future, Wipeout 2048 is definatley worth a your time and your money.


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