Video Games, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, nintendo, wii, ds, sony, microsoft, PSN, XBLA, Onlive, Playstation Vita, Wii U,
Welcome to the year 2048. Welcome to the birth of Anti-Gravity racing; where it all began. Enjoy the ride (and another great Wipeout intro movie).
The story goes (and there is a story, somewhat) that this Anti-Gravity was all sparked by a dude named Pierre Belmondo. Anti-Grav racing came about over a decade later, thanks to him and his physics genius. And lo, the Anti-Gravity Racing Championships (A.G.R.C.) was born. Here is where it all began, with an insight to how one man slowly changed the world. And, that’s it. That’s all the ‘story’ there’s ever been, really. Just bloody well get to racing, okay? No questions!
I must mention the visuals now. Nice. Very nice. As the first game I got for the Vita, its looks alone have me feeling very impressed with the handheld’s abilities. It’s on a par with HD on the PS3. It’s amazing to see so much detail in a handheld game. It’s gorgeous. No slowdown, no clipping, nothing. Explosions, lighting, glare, all that pretty stuff, it all looks great. The crafts themselves are all very highly-detailed. I love looking at 2048 – and the option to let the camera take a tour around a racecourse prior to each race, battle, or trial, allows me to lap it all up. A personal highlight is the first time I encountered the 2048 version of the ‘Sol’ course (a new take on the HD one). It’s so impressive to just look at. Like the Sol map in HD, it looks very intimidating. Absolutely mind-blowing. Definitely my favourite race map on here, and even better when you get over the fear of being so high up in the sky, on a course with little to protect you from falling off.
All the photographic options in HD made it here. Pause a game any time you like, and and you can tinker away at creating some of your own great race pics, if interested.
Wipeout has always been a series for providing great music soundtracks. Every game famously features such artists as The Chemical Brothers, The Prodigy and other stuff of that nature and each game has done so to pleasing effect. Great fast-paced tunes (generally in the key of techno) play along to as you fly. Again, I’m happy with this new soundtrack, although the choice of The Prodigy’s ‘Invaders Must Die’ is one I could gladly do without. There are extra tunes in there, too; beats from a couple of the other games that make a return in remix form. If, for some reason, this music is not your thing, or you get bored of it, you can always put Wipeout on hold by pressing the Vita’s PS button, and start up your own music to play along to.
Besides the music, 2048 features all the commonplace blips, bangs and booms and it throws in a load of sharp new announcer voice clips, and the crafts themselves chug along sounding similar to present-day Formula 1 cars, in a cool attempt at portraying earlier tech, and also reminiscent of the pod racing crafts in that scene off that Star Wars: Phantom Menace.. Only much cooler, and without that twat JaJa.
Everything here makes for a very slick, stylish, well-presented package. Menu screens are clear and intuitive, and there are more than enough options to adjust to your liking. From the start, you fly into the Single Player Campaign, where you’re met with a large event map full of tasks needed to progress (place at least 4th, get enough points in combat, beat this lap time, etc). The better you do, the more you get, so you’ll be focusing on ‘Elite’ passing of an event, placing first, not fourth.
2048 is also the first game of the series to actively encourage getting to know the many different AG vehicles for use in-game. You’ll need to, as along the way, certain events can only be accessed by one particular racing team (‘Qirex’, or ‘Auricom’ say). On startup, you’ll also see that each team presents different AG models, and you’ll be able to opt for the likes of the ‘Feisar Speed’, or AG Systems Fighter’ for example, and earn many more variations along the way. Models vary significantly: use of a Fighter-type will grant you the full benefits of any weapon you get – so it will fire 3 rockets at once, say – while others only fire one – but at the same time, loses out when the agility or speed of others is needed.
These race limitations also show up as races where you must battle with limited weaponry at the ready, or take on ‘Speed’ models in your slower ‘Fighter’, etcetera, etcetera.
Another brand new feature now places two types of item pad throughout the circuits. Hover over the green pad for defensive tools (Shield, Mines, Leech Beam, and more), or fly over an orange pad for the offensive stuff (Quake, Missile, Rocket.). This is a very good change to proceedings, and brings more thought and forward thinking into play. Of course, the speed boost pads are back, too. I point this out, because you are seriously gonna need them, most of the time. You’ll need to study course routes and pad placement, to get ahead. You’ll definitely want to learn where all those short cuts are and there are loads of them, but unlike most games, these are short cuts that require a fair bit of skill to traverse. There are even some you’ll need some really serious speed just to reach. At first, you might find yourself thinking some of them make no difference to race times or position, but they do. It really is worth taking the time to find and master using them.
The farther you advance, the faster 2048 gets – and it gets crazy fast. Plus, when you work so hard to concentrate and head for the finish line, only to be passed at the last nanosecond by a fellow competitor, it can also get annoying. Like, Mario Kart-annoying. There came a point where, even though I frown at ever using Pilot Assist (as featured in Wipeout HD), I had to switch it on. The corners thrown at you – some even in the lowly ‘Class C’ races – are fiendish. So God help you when you reach Class A events (I’d love to hear what you think of the ‘Subway’ circuit).
Next on the menu are the Online Campaign, Ad-Hoc and Cross Play modes.
In Online, you find a new map of challenges, to again get a ‘Pass’ or ‘Elite Pass’. You’re shot into competition against 7 random opponents online – most of whom provide some BEAUTIFUL mugshots of themselves prior to each race (fortunately, it’s not compulsory to take photos of yourself) – and you come away with a pass for just taking part, in most cases.
Adhoc is there for Vita-to-Vita multiplayer battles with others in person, as is the norm, I guess. But then Cross Play comes along, providing something totally different.
As far as my experience with Cross Play goes, it’s pretty cool. There’s a little confusion at first on how to set it up. I’ve been able to join random matches using my Vita, but I can’t get into a match against a friend controlling my own PS3, as of yet. It would be nice to have a lobby feature in Wipeout 2048. As it stands, there isn’t one. The Vita just randomly joins a lobby, and you wait. My first time playing, I had set up a race on my Vita, around HD’s ‘Anulpha Pass’ course. And all of a sudden, a stranger shows up to race me, via PS3. It works, is all I can say, after a few battles. I don’t know how it works, but it does. And it’s weird, yet nice, to see HD’s tracks on the Vita. Future patches are in the cards to make a good idea a great one. I’m very curious to see how it works out.
The world of Wipeout demands your focus and concentration and it’s required if you want to achieve anything. It works well as a game for short bursts of play, but it’s challenge keeps me playing it for a long time.
If I have any complaints about Wipeout 2048, it would be the loading times (which have now been reduced by 50% after a patch), and the fact that, at present, even though the challenge becomes rock-hard for those without decent reflexes, the game is actually quite small in content.
With a lot of planned DLC that didn’t make it on release day coming soon though, including more Cross Play support (as mentioned earlier), and the hinted-at ‘AR Museum’ (new content involving the use of the Augmented Reality cards provided with the Vita on purchase), it’s definitely worth a look. So, because both matters (which have never really bothered me at all) are being amended, I find no fault with this game. I might randomly shout the odd swearword whilst I play, but that’s expected. I’ve gotta get those Elite Passes, damn it!
Before buying a Vita, I always knew this would be the first game I purchased for it. I reckon Wipeout 2048 is, as they say, ‘one of those games you shouldn’t be without’, if you own a PS Vita. I’m very glad I chose it as my first Vita game; it’s gonna spend a lot of time inside the console.