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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Wheels of Destruction (PS3)

Wheels of Destruction adds a slick coat of paint to the tried and true car combat genre. Does it make the grade, or crash and burn?

Car combat hasn't really changed all that much from the earliest days of the genre. If you really think about it, are things all that different since Twisted Metal debuted way back when? The basic premise is usually the same in most titles- Drive. Shoot. Rinse. Repeat.

The only real differentiating factors are the way that that particular brand of action takes place. In Wheels of Destruction, that's the big hook. Gelid Games has positioned the title to play out a little more like a traditional first person shooter than your usual car combater. 

Life on the grid
Right from the jump, you'll notice that WoD has both standard deathmatch and capture the flag modes of play. I'm sure there are a lot more genre vets out there who've logged a lot more hours behind the wheel of a deathmobile than me, but I can't remember another driving shooter that had anything more than a few more variations on 'kill everything'. Capture the Flag, while it's true that it is only one mode, goes a long way towards expanding the play styles that can be brought into a car combat game. It'd be great to see more like this in the future.

Also different here is that there are five distinct classes of vehicle. Much like in a game of Team Fortress; you've got scout, heavy, assassin, soldier, and engineer combat types available that can be chosen before the match starts. Each class plays differently with all the pluses and minuses that you'd expect from a team based shooter too- it's just that this one is a shooter with wheels. Again, it's really nice to see a car combat game that tries something different.

pew, pew, pew
Graphically, Wheels has a cool worn down but futuristic look to it. It's set in a post apocalyptic Europe (nothing too 'different' about that unfortunately) but both the vehicles and even the levels themselves have a slick, hi-tech look to them. It actually reminded me of the current batch of Transformers games in that way.

The cars are big and chunky and just look like they could do some serious damage (particularly the heavy). Even the smallest among them, the scout, is intimidating. Weapon effects are likewise well done here too. There are some very cool blasters and rockets to be tossed around the battlefield and they all have nice impressive 'booms' when they land.

Power-ups are scattered around as well and there are some seriously awesome shield effects that give the cars a neon glow right out of Tron. I actually made a point of getting the shields up as often as I could- not for the obvious benefit as much as for the cool look they have- I fight for the users!

Big ba-da boom
Control-wise there isn't too much wrong here. The cars all control well, each class (again) does control a little differently though so keep that in mind but both driving and blasting controls are simple and easy to use. Some in-level elements like the jump pads can be a little touchy at times, but that probably won't bother you all that often since it's not the biggest part of the game.

One thing that did bother me though was the lack of a definite single-player mode- complete with a story to play through. You can play WoD all by yourself, but it'll strictly be in bot-match fashion as the game never goes anywhere beyond that as a solo experience. It's actually not un-fun in any way (other than being a little repetitive and 'vanilla' thanks to the bots not being that interesting to fight), but you'll still probably want to stick to the multi.
There's a good deal of ordinance to pick from

And that's really the story here. Wheels of Destruction is a fun addition to the catalog of car combat, but as a multiplayer shooter. I can't say it's really revolutionary, but just the very idea that there's some different things going on here than the typical ins and outs of the genre is a plus.

 The single player is most definitely of the 'meh' variety but that's not the real draw here. This is one mainly for the multiplayer fans out there. And I really liked the car class types. It's just different and a great idea, I hope it goes somewhere and manages to shake things up a little for the genre as a whole. 'Cause man it needs it. 

- Jason M




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Review: Wheels of Destruction (PS3)
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