Wheels of Destruction (PSN) Review
Gelid Games is looking to move in on the car combat genre and that’s a risky move with Twisted Metal having returned to the scene only months ago. Their PSN-exclusive downloadable title Wheels of Destruction is all about class-based vehicular carnage in a post-apocalyptic world accented with blue and red. The game contains both singe-player and multiplayer modes, although the focus is primarily on the latter. Can Gelid Games break into this genre and provide an experience worth pulling players away from more established series?
Let’s take a look at what’s HOT and what’s NOT in our review of Wheels of Destruction.
Class-Based Car Combat
Taking a page from Team Fortress 2, Gelid Games has implemented a class system into their car combat game. There are 5 classes: Heavy, Engineer, Assassin, Scout and Soldier. The Heavy is a mobile tank, able to absorb damage but lacks speed. The Engineer is a bit more maneuverable, boasting maxed out jet power (a stat pertaining to boost/nitro) and improved on-screen radar as well as lock-on. The Assassin Class is all about hitting the enemy hard and fast before they know what has happened. They are able to fire much faster than other classes, making them worthy of their title. If you like to scope areas out for the team and check for enemies, then look no further than the Scout class. Beware, this class is pretty weak. Finally, there’s the Soldier. This vehicle doesn’t excel in any one trait and, instead, acts as a jack of all trades team member. The implementation of this system works fairly well when teams band together and put each role to work. It is definitely satisfying to have your Scouts grab the enemy flag and lead a group of Soldiers and Assassins back to a designated spot only to have the opposition be met by a lineup of your team’s Heavy vehicles. The entire concept is interesting and it’s one that should be experimented with more in the future.
What about the weapons you say? You’ll find a decent amount of offensive options here. There are gatling guns, rocket launchers, flamethrowers and even a rail gun. The best part is that each one has an alternative firing mode, allowing players to engage at either long range or in close quarters. The gatling gun, for example, switches from automatic fire to a devastating shotgun blast. However, the rail gun’s alt fire is the one you’ll want to check out above all else. The more powerful (usually explosive) weapons can even start removing armor and wheels, providing a satisfying visual when you’re gunning down an opposing team’s car. Combined with the class systems, the weaponry helps further dive into the tactical side of combat as you pick the right car and weapon for the job at hand.
Environments Pack Personality
Wheels of Destruction includes 5 maps to wreak havoc on. You can drive all over post-apocalyptic versions of London, Seattle, Rome, Paris and Tokyo. Each level contains a different look and feel. Seattle is covered in ice, London is surrounded by acid pits, large bodies of water have engulfed most of Tokyo, Rome is littered with volcanic ash and Paris has nearly become a jungle. While racing around each environment blowing up enemies in one of the game’s three modes – Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag — it’s hard not to admire the varied locales and examine the unique devastation that has transformed each one.
Wheels of Destruction adopts a control system that requires the ability to multitask, but that’s pretty common for driving games (check out Twisted Metal). However, Wheels of Destruction provides a somewhat clunky control layout. In an attempt to mimic Halo’s Warthog controls (or so I assume), Gelid Games has put both the steering and aiming on the left analog stick. The right analog stick isn’t used for anything. To maneuver around obstacles and corners, you’ll have to face the camera in the direction that you want to go. Unfortunately, the cars make some pretty wide turns, especially when making a U-turn or full 360 degree motion. This means players will have to rely heavily on the square button, which is used for powersliding. Even that can’t get you out in certain situations where you end up in a corner or are trying to tag an enemy circling around your car. If you’re really unlucky, it’ll lead to falling off the map due to an extra wide turn or the lack of directional control after flying up into the air from a launch pad. If you are patient, you can overcome the steep learning curve and may begin to find it bearable. However, if you’re a current Twisted Metal player, it will take some time to un-train your current car combat ways.
Not A Single Player Experience
If you’re not one to test your skills online, then you probably won’t find much here. Wheels of Destruction does not include any form of story mode. Although that is understandable since most car combat games exclude this feature (or have a less-than-memorable one), it still greatly limits its appeal. Furthermore, the offline option consists of AI bots and they can be pretty cheap. Split-screen play is not an option here. So if you were hoping to enjoy some on-wheels destruction with your friends locally, you’re out of luck. The game comes across as an online-only experience, with the offline portion serving as nothing more than a tutorial. The trophies reflect Gelid Games’ direction as all of them are only attainable through online play. It is worth mentioning that online can suffer from poor performance from time to time, making your decision on whether to play online or offline a little harder.
Wheels of Destruction adds an interesting twist to the conventional car combat genre with its class-based system. However, this is about where the Pros end. While the environments are appealing, that doesn’t make up for actual gameplay. The cumbersome control system provide several bouts of frustration while trying to tackle the steep learning curve. Also, the single player offering is lacking and the online is only marginally better. It can’t compete with the likes of Twisted Metal, but taken for what it is, it can turn into a fun distraction for those patient enough to overcome the controls.[Editor's Note: Wheels of Destruction was reviewed on the PlayStation 3 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.] Wheels of Destruction (PSN) Review,