WipEout 2048 – PS Vita E3 Preview

Yesterday, I had a chance to spend time with one of my favorite franchises now coming to the PS Vita: Wipeout. Dr. Stuart Lovegrove, the game’s Technical Director, was kind enough of to spend some time talking about with me about the new game, the direction the team has, and even showed the future of where the PS3 and PS Vita are headed.

In the corner of Sony’s Vita VIP area, just past Virtual Tennis and Little Deviants was a game known by it’s working title: WipEout 2048. After sitting down, two things were immediately clear: 1) WipEout on the PS Vita, even in it’s early alpha phase, could release today if PS Vita’s were available and would sell systems and 2) Dr. Lovegrove has a passion for the WipEout series and it shows in the quality of his team’s product.

Dr. Lovegrove had the PS Vita ready to go, and gave me an overview of the control scheme which was designed to take advantage of all of the PS Vita’s features. Steering pitch is adjusted using the directional pad as well as the dual analog sticks. Things get interesting when we move on to the touch functionality of the PSV. Touching the bottom left of the screen performs an absorb and touching the bottom right allows you to fire.  The back touch panel was used for thrust which, combined with the other controls of the game, made for a very intuitive control scheme which was truly “pick up and play”.

After eagerly anticipating going a few laps, I had my chance. My first thought was just how fluid and beautiful the game is. Set in the new world of WipEout 2048, the team created an American style city (for the playable track) that allowed you to race down subways, up the side of skyscrapers and across roads rendered in stunning detail with very tight controls. The SixAxis motion sensing system was spot on as well—it only took very slight moves to fly down the city of future and make hairpin turns without the need for deceleration.

WipEout was just as responsive on the PSV as it’s sister title Wipeout HD on PS3. Front panel camera integration was used as well for perhaps sharing images or possibly in-game play, as Dr. Lovegrove took a brief picture of me and I before the race. The most difficult thing, for me was paying attention to the gameplay when you’re surrounded with such gorgeous scenery. At every turn, every building and even the sky itself, everything stands in a level of beauty on it’s own that together created one of the most immersive experiences I’ve seen on a handheld.

Dr. Lovegrove was then kind enough to ask someone else in the booth to help us out with something: PS Vita Cross Play. With two people on PSV’s and Dr. Lovegrove on the PS3, this is where the both the PSV and WipEout impressed me yet again. Nothing was required to run WipEout HD on the PSV, it simply loaded, synced with the PS3, the other PSV and the three of us were engaged in an epic racing battle. Frame rate, screen tearing, latency, all the things that can run a high-octane game like WipEout (and that are immediately noticeable) were not present in the slightest.

When WipEout 2048 arrives (should that stay it’s name upon release) it’s going to be a hit you definitely don’t want to miss. The scary thing is that it’s this good…and it’s not done yet.