Game Review: Wheels of Destruction
It’s been quite some time since I’ve played a car combat game. I remember the good ol’ days when I would go over to my friend’s place and a bunch of us would play the original Twisted Metal for hours on end. That was back when car combat was a unique game. Now a day car combat seems to be popping up more often than it used to. The most recent game to tackle the genre is the PSN exclusive Wheels of Destruction. So I’m sure you’re wondering, is it worthy of being placed alongside its predecessors? Short answer: No.
Wheels of Destruction is an online arcade style car combat game by developer Gelid Games. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world you play online matches that consist of 3 different types of matches: team death-match, death-match, and capture the flag. Now whereas many other games would have had some unfulfilling single player to go along with the online portion, Gelid decided to throw everything into an online game. You would think that reason alone would mean that that spent all their time developing a solid online game, but there are just so many aspects that fall flat that it ultimately makes the experience both boring and frustrating. There is an offline portion where you play against CPUs, but aside from just getting in some practice, it really serves no other purpose.
I applaud them for going for an arcade style game, but there are some major components that are poorly executed that the overall experience is lacking. First off there are 5 different classes: Scout, Assassin, Heavy, Soldier and Engineer. Now when you read that there are different classes you would probably assume that each class has its own weapons or a unique ability inherent to that class. And you would have every right to assume that since almost every class system in any game is designed that way. However here those concepts go right out the window. They don’t exist. Here’s what the different classes boil down to: differences in speed, health, shielding, and ammo capacity. That’s it, nothing else. The cars all look different, but that’s pretty much a given. Other than that all the cars use the same weapons. You start off playing with a gattling gun with the alternate fire being a shotgun blast. You can pick up different weapon types throughout the map which include flamethrower, rockets, and rail gun. That’s all the weapons the game has. Each weapon as an alternate firing method, but they don’t do much else other than deal slightly more damage than the regular fire. The weapons for the most part feel a bit unbalanced. Often time I would find my shields being drained away almost instantly just from getting a little tap from a flame thrower. Rockets are pretty much a cheap way to get kills since you can fire them in rapid succession and you automatically lock onto enemies when they’re in your sights.
Each car has a health and shield bar. Depending on which “class” you choose you have a certain amount of health. What really takes the fun out of playing it however is that when you start a match or respawn for that matter is that you have no shield what so ever. You have to go around collecting pickups to fill up your shield bar. This gets annoying very fast as instead of jumping into the fray you having to avoid any enemies until you can get some shield otherwise you will die very quickly. And it doesn’t help when you respawn near an area where there are enemies so you pretty much have no time to pick up any shield. You can also do somersaults in the air in order to gain some shield points, but most of the time it doesn’t work. I should also note that while each “class” doesn’t have an ability that the player activates there are “passive” abilities like the Engineer being able to see where enemies are from anywhere on the map, but that’s about as far as they take it. The cars also feel a little unbalanced. As a Heavy I could be on the verge of blowing up and still get 3 kills in a row before someone would finally manage kill me. There is suppose to be strategy when using the classes, but the game overall just doesn’t feel designed for that. Plus it’s really easy to just spam the missiles so what’s the point in using strategy at all?
For the most part the game looks pretty good. It utilizes the Unreal Engine well, which at this point in its life doesn’t mean much. But there was no slow down what so ever when playing which is phenomenal for playing online. The map designs themselves are poor and all over the place. While some are easy to navigate and lead to some battle royals, others have you spending more time driving around just trying to find enemies. It gets more frustrating in Capture the Flag when you have trouble finding your way back to your base. The cars themselves handle okay for the most part. You can turn pretty easily and it helps that you can turn your car while in the air making it easy to spot enemies, but expect to find yourself stuck in a corner every now and then or hitting a wall while trying to turn in reverse. The controls could have definitely been tighter and there are plenty of other games where the driving controls blow this game’s out of the water.
Overall what this game feels like it’s not complete. I don’t mean it’s lacking polish or it’s glitchy I mean it feels like a game that’s still in its early stages of development. I can’t help but wonder what they could have done if they spent more time developing this into much more than what it is. Maybe then it could have been a highly enjoyable and really fun game. And I have yet to play the new Twisted Metal so I can’t compare the two which is probably a good thing. In the end if you’re looking for something simple to play with your friends or kill some time then go for it. Otherwise just save your $10 for something better.
El Lobo Loco signing off until next time.