Now I should start this review with a piece of personal information, vehicular combat games have completely passed me by, I’ve never played a game of Twisted Metal or any of the various Twisted Metal wannabes out there, this is both a positive and negative thing, on the one hand I won’t be going into this review with any expectations, on the other hand though, I have nothing to compare Wheels of Destruction to, unless you count the battle mode on Mario Kart (which I don’t).
That being said, let’s get the review under way, Wheels of Destruction is – as you may have guessed – a vehicular combat game set in a futuristic dystopia, basically it’s quarter past the future and mankind has decided that the best type of sport is getting behind the wheel of a heavily armed car and trying to blast seven shades of hell out of other drivers, in either a team deathmatch – with teams colour coded red or blue – all out deathmatch or capture the flag. Now that’s the premise sorted out, but how does it play?
It’s an odd game to say the least, there’s a number of different vehicles to choose from ranging from the weak but fast cars, to slow but tough and various shades in-between, the decision of which car to use can make or break your game, it’s best to pick the car that suits your playstyle, pick the wrong one and you’ll find yourself sitting on the waiting to respawn screen way too often. As an added benefit each vehicle is armed with a machine gun and there are various other weapons available to pick up in the arenas, to add to the mayhem, each weapon has a secondary fire, with the machine gun for example you can fire single rounds or a one-off shot that does more damage but takes time to reload, the missile launcher pick-up has a similar option, fire a homing missile at your opponent or call in an airstrike on your target which will launch them into the air.
Death comes with a loss of all vehicle health, this can come quite quickly sending you once more back to the waiting to respawn screen, but fear not! There are solutions to this problem as well in the form of collectible repair or shield items. Your car will take damage during the game and at times you can lose wheels or catch fire, using a repair item will fix this problem allowing you to stay in the game, your shield should help you survive that little bit longer as well, as long as you have one. . . Miles away from a shield pick up? Don’t worry get yourself some speed, hit a ramp (or jump) and perform a stunt! Every complete forward or backward flip will add to your shield (It must be some form of kinetic battery charging the thing, but hell, it’s the future after all.) this adds a type of risk/reward playstyle, do you stick near a shield pick-up or rely on stunts to keeps your shields up?
The arenas look very well made but on first impression, the lack of a decent map system can mean you’re left looking for a pathway that will lead you to the enemy flag, but numerous shortcuts built into the arenas can also help with navigation, once you’ve spent a bit of time on each map you’ll get to know your way around quite quickly.
The cars themselves look very well designed even if they do seem to borrow a bit heavily from certain films about a slightly unhinged gentleman called Max, but the look of the vehicles changes completely when you get your shield up and running, at that point they look more like they belong in the world of Tron. I should add, neither of these are bad points, the look of the vehicles helps to sell the futuristic setting.
So far this is starting to sound like one of the best games released on the PSN, so let’s talk about the elephant in the room, the controls!
Both aiming and turning are done with the left stick, the cars themselves turn in quite lazy circles requiring the player to get used to the idea of jumping and spinning on the spot in order to get a decent shot off, this takes some real getting used to and some players will give up on the game before they manage to master it.
Another thing that may hurt the game is the lack of any real single player mode, this could have worked well in allowing the player to unlock vehicle customisation (also missing from the game) as it is, single player mode is essentially the same as the online multiplayer but with AI taking the place of flesh and blood players, this is a real shame as a robust single player experience could have boosted this title from an average vehicular shooter to something pretty special.
Now don’t go away from this thinking that I don’t like the game, get a group of friends together online all blasting the hell out of each other while trying to get the enemy flag back to their base is awesome, this is a perfect game for the online battle, it’s not just mindless running and gunning, there’s a hidden level of strategy that really makes you want to play better, even if only to hear the announcer yelling out how many kills you’ve gotten in a row (My record is 12 at the moment) The controls are a bit of a pain until you adapt, but once you get used to them, you’ll be blowing up cars left and right – and in some cases above and below too – with your chosen weapons.
It hasn’t sold me on the idea of the vehicular combat genre in that I don’t see myself getting Twisted Metal any time soon, but that being said you could do a lot worse for the price, in fact get this instead of Twisted Metal and put the money saved towards some other games.
But don’t just take my word for it, Local has also passed on his opinion, read on IF YOU DARE!
Putting big guns on cars and letting you blow other cars up, nothing new to see here maybe, especially as this game is released straight after Twisted Metal. So in short why choose to buy Wheels of Destruction instead?
What you got here is a decent enough looking PSN game that can be regarded as a “value” version of Twisted Metal, a game that will cost you a AAA price for just as much fun, it’s as simple as that, the satisfaction from blowing up another player in Wheels of Destruction is just as fun and gratifying. Seeking revenge of other players feels so satisfying that I found myself doing an evil laugh on a number of occassions, but I spent more time cursing them when you get killed with a one shot kill.
It took me a little while to get the hang of steering and assisted aiming with the left stick of the controller but once you do it all handles very well. I would have liked to have seen more weapons in the game and car customisation. The game also lacks a progressive ranking system which could have unlocked customisation options.
If you gave Twisted Metal a miss because of the price then look to getting this game instead, you get plenty of BOOM for your money.