Combat events are also deceptively deep. Rather than racing, you damage and destroy others to reach a set score. You can use both offensive and defensive weapons, or absorb either to recharge your shield - useful when each death sets your points total back. There's a real nerdy pleasure in peppering the front runner with bullets and watching red numbers rise from his ship, MMO-style.
But it's not just racing with weapons or without. Zone Events start out simple enough. It's you, alone on a track, with your one goal: don't die. This is made difficult when your speed constantly increases until it's physically impossible to keep on the track - Canabalt in a hover craft.
Prototype Ship Challenges are even more novel. There are five bonus ships hidden in the game, and you'll get the chance to win them. Their five challenge races are unlocked after each 10 ranks, tricky to complete as they are to even find. Icons are hidden on the menu screen, and you'll have to touch around to find them. Add to that four tiers of racing - C, B, A and the ultra-fast A+ - and you've got a game stuffed with content.
Of course, you'll need to select the right ship for the job. There are three classes: Fighter, Agility and Speed. Fighters have superior health and firepower, Speed boasts the best handling and, er, speed, and Agility are a mix of the two. Like popular real world motorsports, ships are split into manufacturer, and each fictional team has five ships apiece. Not a lot, but truthfully there's not much handling difference between ships of the same class, so more would be pointless.
There's also little variety between crafts visually. Why not give us a ship creator with parts for cockpits and wings, or even options for painting and decal application? You'll have to settle for rotating the ship in the menu screen using the touch pad. (Which is, admittedly, quite cool.)
HOC AND AWE
So, ModNation this is not. There's little customisation, of ships, of races and of courses, but for competitive play the game has you covered. You can play ad-hoc with players in the near vicinity, or cross-platform with gamers on the PS3's Wipeout HD (a series first). But most intriguing is the new online campaign. Progression is made not through completing races, but objectives. Complete them on any track and in any event to unlock all 20 multiplayer races - but you'll need a minimum of four players to do so.
With 2048, Sony seem keen to make it a Wipeout world. Menu screens integrate global and friend leaderboards, and community news feeds borrowed from Hot Pursuit display while races load (flicking a finger through the typically clean, ultra-sleek menus is nice and responsive, too). The news feed presents other players' ranks, but you might want to concentrate on your own. It's key to unlocking new races, craft, and Prototype Events.
And stats are useful for when you're not sitting with a pen and paper, recording progress in almost OCD detail. Like the menus they're mathematical and precise: from your use of weapons the game will calculate your offensive and defensive tendencies in percentages, as well as the amount of Speed Pads you go over per second.
It's window dressing - but, like the game as a whole, you can't fail to be impressed by it.
Wipeout leads the pack of PS Vita racers. New modes lack imagination, but visuals are killer and the campaign always offers new events and objectives to fulfill. A Vita must-buy.
- It's Wipeout, not watered-down in any way
- The Vita's best-looking game
- Compelling ranking and objective system
- LAN, Cross-Play and global multiplayer
- Few craft, all handling similarly
- Loads of events but not many new modes
- Little customisation