Stereotypically, boys are into cars, guns and girls. Developer Gelid Games is attempting to tap into at least two of those interests with Wheels of Destruction, a vehicle-based arena shooter recently released on the PlayStation 3. Primarily an online experience, Wheels of Destruction allows up to 12 players to speed around various futuristic settings blowing the crap out of each other, all in the name of fun. Considering the recent lack of vehicular shooters, does Wheels of Destruction do enough to encourage a return to the genre?
REINVENTING THE WHEEL
Multiplayer Mayhem - Designed as a multiplayer experience, Wheels of Destruction fulfils its objective well, offering up a decent attempt at vehicle combat for up to twelve players. Whilst the gameplay rarely ventures above mundane, the game itself is solid and no real fault can be levelled at the mechanics that operate behind the scenes. It’s just a shame that the game itself is so dull.
A Lack of Incentive - Games these days rarely get by on the most basic of multiplayer experiences. It is becoming increasingly rare to see a multiplayer suite that doesn’t offer up some form of character progression, be it unlocking weapons, modes, or even characters. Wheels of Destruction offers none of this, leaving players with the same selection of cars, maps and modes. There isn’t any incentive to come back to the game once you’ve put it down, and the gameplay certainly isn’t enough to encourage repeat plays by itself.
A Dismal Future - Wheels of Destruction sets itself in an post-apocalyptic future, where various cities have been changed beyond recognition. London has become a swamp, Tokyo is flooded and Paris has become a giant mechanized bowl. With only five maps on offer, you would think each would be varied enough to offer up a different type of experience from the others, but this isn’t the case. None of the maps really strikes an identity of its own, partially due to the bland colour palette, and none of the maps have any real correlation to the cities that they are named after.
Impaired Driving - One of the most infuriating design decisions in Wheels of Destruction is the control scheme, which operates somewhat like that of Halo. The left stick controls the camera, and the R2 and L2 buttons move your vehicle backwards and forwards. When this is combined with the fact that your weapons can only fire directly forward, it means that you’ll often find yourself having to drive directly into your enemy’s fire in an attempt to destroy him. The controls are also clumsy enough to make getting out of tight corners a huge pain in the ass, and any attempt at skillful manoeuvring is also ruled out. In a twitch-happy arena such as online multiplayer, imprecise controls are a death knell.
Wheels of Destruction is one of those games that is hardest to review, in that whilst the game itself is adequately made and doesn’t really present any real problems, there just isn’t anything extra to recommend it. The driving is largely solid (aside from the controls) and the combat isn’t bad, it just lacks any real punch. The absence of character progression removes any incentive to power through the game in search of rewards or upgrades, and the visuals aren’t bad, just bland and uninspiring. With the latest Twisted Metal game receiving above average reviews, I would suggest that if you’re eager for vehicular combat, give that a go instead of Wheels of Destruction. Wheels of Destruction isn’t a bad game, it’s just not a particularly exciting one.
*This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*