Previews

Hands-on with WipEout 2048 for PS Vita

Back to the future

Hands-on with WipEout 2048 for PS Vita
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| WipEout 2048

WipEout has become a staple game for every Sony device since it first zipped coolly onto the gaming (and club) scene back in the days of the original PlayStation, so its appearance as a launch title for the PS Vita shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Still, while the formula behind the high-speed futuristic racer has barely been touched over the years, this new version offers up possibly the slickest iteration of the game yet, especially for a handheld device.

When played side-by-side with the PS3 version (HD/Fury), it’s hard to actually pick out any flaws in both its speed and presentation.

Or, to put it another way, it looks gorgeous.

Welcome to the future

As you can probably imagine, WipEout 2048 takes place across a variety of speed types, ranging from ‘reasonably slow’ to ‘blisteringly fast’, and features the classic hovercraft and companies from games gone by like every beginner’s favourite, FEISER.

During my short hands-on with the title at a recent Sony Vita event in London, I took the fictional team’s familar yellow and blue craft out for a spin across one of the new tracks in the game, set inside a futuristic city.

The track contains all the traditional WipEout characteristics that have made the series such a success in recent years - with a good mixture of sweeping turns, banked corners, and split routes to choose from.

As I was playing on the very first speed/difficulty tier, the corners of this track didn’t require too much braking (especially with the grippy choice of craft), although no doubt the relatively peaceful turns will turn into ferocious snaking monstrosities at the higher speeds.

Where the track really differed from the ones in Pulse and Pure on the PSP is the sheer amount of detail going on trackside, with the higher route late in the lap (leading to a fantastic drop back onto the main track) revealing a full cityscape twinkling with lights in the background.

Anti-grav

While there was the option of controlling the game via the in-built Sixaxis controller, I - like any sane individual - chose to stay with the tried and tested physical buttons. Acceleration and braking are assigned to the two shoulder pads, while the vital airbrake controls rest on the Square and Circle buttons.

After a moment to adjust (I’m more used to the accelerate being on the X button) it felt a lot slicker than the PS3’s shoulder configuration or PSP’s controls, especially given that the joysticks on the Vita are genuine, out-of-the-console sticks and not tiny, slippery pads.

This extra control is going to be needed for the multiplayer, which not only supports up to eight players on Vita, but also allows for genuine cross-platform play against PS3 owners with HD/Fury.

These eight machines can consist of any combination of the two devices, and while the HUD for the Vita is a little different from the PS3, the speed and look of the two games is nigh-on identical, to the point where it almost feels like you're looking at the PS3 version through the small screen.

Sony may have previously marketed the PSP as a console in your pocket, but with WipEout 2048 running on the Vita it genuinely feels like it's actually achieved that goal. We’ll see if the finished game is worth gravitating to when the title launches with the Vita next year.