Reviews

Wheels of Destruction – Review

Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Gelid Games
Publisher: Gelid Games
Singleplayer: Yes
Multiplayer: Yes

Thanks to the publishers for supplying a copy of this game for review.

Battle racing games, the front line of Redneck simulation games. With the success of the recent return of Twisted Metal it seems everyone’s trying to get in on the action, from largely unsuccessful Wrecked to flashy but ultimately flawed Smash N Survive. Now it’s Gelid Games turn to step up to the starting grid with the latest PSN title Wheels of Destruction. But is WoD just an old banger or one to snatch pole position? Well, neither actually…

 

After the utter disappointment of Wrecked, it should come as no surprised that I went into WoD with some hesitation. What I found however was something completely different, nowhere near perfect unfortunately but something that was not only playable but ultimately fun.

There’s no story to speak of here. In fact, there’s next to no singleplayer elements either. This is the game’s first flaw. Even Wrecked had a selection of challenges, admittedly mostly boring and unimaginative, but WoD is limited to simple offline modes that are identical to its online elements except for the inclusion of AI allies and opponents. While you don’t necessarily expect an expansive epic storyline something to keep you entertained in between bouts of online play would have been much appreciated.

As it stands WoD is a purely competitive experience. You’ll have three different game modes to play with: deathmatch, team deathmatch and capture the flag, with five different maps to go with them. It’s the bare bones minimum of game modes and maps but while the selections of modes left a lot to be desired the maps were large and varied enough to almost make up for it. To supplement the three modes there’s a few other settings you can throw into the mix such as firefight, which randomizes starting cars and weapons for each player every time you respawn. It’s not much but it helps to break up the monotony of the few game modes on offer.

Speaking of cars and weapons, there are four weapons (each with a secondary fire mode) and a total of five cars to choose from. The weapons consist of your average demolition derby gear from a gatling gun that can shoot out a shotgun-like spread of rounds to a rail gun that can snipe enemies from afar or shoot a massive blob of plasma to decimate anyone in its path. As I experimented with each one it’s obvious that they all fit into a unique play style with the gatling guns and flamethrowers favouring close range compared to the rocket launcher and rail gun.

Unfortunately, either by design or what seems to be general stupidity, steering and aiming is done using the same thumbstick. This makes aiming pretty challenging, meaning you can usually only engage enemies in a 90 degrees radius in front of you. Throw two or more enemies into the firing line and homing in on the right one, even if the targeting is semi-automated, is near to impossible as your car fish-tails around while you try to lock on to the right target. It seems mind-boggling that the developers didn’t assign aiming and steering to separate sticks as it adds an unnecessary layer of frustration into what could be a pretty good arcade title.

When it comes to choosing cars you’re presented with 5 different classes. The Heavy is slow but has a lot of health, the Soldier is a good all-rounder and so on. There isn’t a whole lot that sets the various classes apart but the choice is nice and does present some distinct roles such as the run and gun scout or ‘tank’ style of the heavy. What adds to the enjoyment is the fact that each car is destructible, with the ability to destroy an opponent’s wheels or fry his targeting with the flamethrower. As mentioned above however, aiming is next to impossible, since all targeting is done by just a general lock on to an enemy vehicle. It feels like a missed opportunity that all this great custom destruction can be caused but the fact that you can’t aim at specific bits of a car make it completely random.

While both the graphics and sound is both top-notch for an arcade game the overall problem with Wheels of Destruction is replayability. With no singleplayer or challenge modes to speak of, a mere 3 game modes and just a small compliment of weapons, cars and maps there’s not much to keep you coming back. At its heart WoD really is a fun game but one that could be seen as a missed opportunity. It’s simple, fast paced and generally a whole lot of fun but the lack of variety outshines this. While it’s understandable for the cars, which are actually pretty varied, the game modes and maps have no excuse with little to keep players interested for the long haul. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a fun destructive online battle racer in a small price and package you could do a hell of a lot worse than WoD.

The Good:
+ Simple, Fast Paced Action

The Bad:
– Frustrating Aiming
– No Camera Control
– Lacking Variety Of Game Modes

The Score:

Graphics: 8
Fantastic for an arcade game, really makes use of the Unreal Engine to bring out the best in both the scenery and vehicles.

Sound: 8
More car noises than a NASCAR track and a great announcer makes sure there’s little to hate here.

Story: 0
Story?! This is a racing game dammit not a JRPG!

Gameplay: 6
A great mix of destruction and racing but with a few flaws that could have been avoided such as the lack of game modes and the frustrating aiming and camera control.

Lifespan: 4
A small online community, coupled with no singleplayer aspects except for bot races mean that the lifespan will no doubt be short. Even if you’ve got a few friends to play locally, it’s not going to hold your attention for more than a few matches.

The Verdict: 6
Solid in design and execution except for a few flaws Wheels of Destruction is the one car combat arcade title that doesn’t completely suck at what it sets out to do. If not for the lack of Singleplayer elements, flawed controls and uninspired selection of game modes WoD might have given Twisted Metal a run for its money in the arcade scene…

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3 replies »

  1. I think racing games would be one of the hardest to make successful; there are so many of them and seriously, how many times can you make a game that goes in circles? It sounds like this one may be a must-try though.

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