Downloadable car combat.
This arena-based car combat game from Gelid Games is up against some stiff competition at the moment. The grand master of all car combat games, Twisted Metal, have only recently released their latest offering, to a fair degree of success, for PlayStation 3. So providing Wheels of Destruction as an SEN (or PSN to those who still haven’t made the change) exclusive is optimistic at best. Can the low price make this game appealing to those who have not dipped their toes into the Twisted Metal universe?
As already mentioned, this is arena-based car combat so all of the action takes place within specially constructed enclosed areas. There are five arenas included, set in post-apocalyptic versions of Paris, London, Seattle, Rome and Tokyo. There is no story explaining this post-apocalyptic state or linking battles together in any way, so it is all about the competition. The arenas are all fairly decent in size and are littered with weapon pick ups and ramps from which to jump.
The modes are also fairly straight forward. There are three modes to choose from, all based on what are now well known ideas. Deathmatch pits up to 12 players against each other, whilst Team Deathmatch splits those players into two opposing teams. Capture the Flag has the two teams each racing towards the enemy base to steal their flag and return it to their own base, whilst protecting their base from enemies trying to steal their flag. These modes, and the game in general, lend themselves to online play, although an offline mode is available which will substitute other players with AI bots. The bots don’t do a bad job, but there is much more fun to be had from playing with human opponents and team-mates. So far as the modes go, there seems to be a distinct lack of imagination and one can only hope that more options will become available through an update further down the line.
Things get more interesting when it comes to the vehicles. There may only be five available, but they each come with their very own distinct strengths and weaknesses, and can be likened to the different classes found within many competitive shooters. The five different classes are Assassin, Engineer, Heavy, Scout and Soldier. Players will quickly grasp the different battlefield functions of these vehicles, such as the slow moving, highly armoured type, or the speedy yet weak type, and will find themselves taking on specific roles in the team-based modes. In basic Deathmatch however, it simply comes down to preference and players will soon discover which of the vehicles suits there particular play style.
There is a fly in this competitive ointment however – the controls. For some reason, both steering and camera use is controlled with the left analogue stick, whilst the right stick remains unused. Basically, the player will move in whichever direction they are looking, usually to the detriment of any precise driving. This is not an ideal setup, especially when the solution is to make use of the unused stick. Obviously this makes precision shooting somewhat difficult, which is only helped slightly by the autolock system in the game.
Visually, the game has a suitably post-apocalyptic feel about it, which can best be described as dreary. That being said, as far as post-apocalyptic environments go, they do the job, being neither outstanding or bad in any way. The vehicles have a clean futuristic look about them, not at all what you would expect.
Whilst car combat enthusiasts who, for whatever reason, have not picked up Twisted Metal may find entertainment in Wheels of Destruction, I think that most gamers will find the relative lack of content, and the problems with the controls, will prevent this game from being enjoyed. Mind you, at the low price of £7.99, if you can get enough buddies to pick the game up, Wheels of Destruction could be quite a blast.