Wheels of Destruction World Tour Review
Sony PlayStation 3
Sticking guns on a car and blowing the hell out of someone isn’t a new concept in the world of video games but despite the re-emergence of the Twisted Metal series on the PS3 it isn’t an area which has been exactly overflowing of late. Gelid games seeks to redress the balance with Wheels of Destruction World Tour, a multiplayer vehicle arena combat game. Set in a post-apocalyptic world Wheels of Destruction gives you the keys to several different cars and the opportunity to lay waste to your opponents in different regions across the world. Wheels of destruction certainly doesn’t waste your time with story or setup and instead thrusts you straight into the middle of class based vehicle combat reminiscent of Vigilante 8 and the previously mentioned Twisted Metal series.
As indicated above, Instead of coming up with a number of different characters Wheels of Destruction instead opts for a class based approach with five different cars available to pick from. Each one of them has different advantages and disadvantages allowing the player to pick something which complements their style of play. Anyone familiar with the likes of Team Fortress and other squad based shooters will know the score here.
The scout speeds around the battlefield and switches weapons quickly but lacks the defences of the others. The soldier class meanwhile is the all rounder with the assassin packing more ammo than most of the others and is capable of dealing a bit more damage at the expense of armour. The engineer gets a bit more in the way of shielding and plenty of boost while the heavy offers far more protection than any of the others and can dole out some damage but lacks the mobility of some of the other classes. It is all standard class based stuff and anyone who has spent any time with the team based shooters will know what to expect and the same extends to the game modes which are available both online and off. Aside from the usual deathmatch option you get a capture the flag option and a team deathmatch mode to play with. You can jump into a ranked game very quickly from the main menu and Wheels of Destruction even offers a little extra variation with a handful of additional modifiers, such as limiting the weapons to gatling guns and shotguns or dispensing with the ability to select which class you want to turn out as when you respawn. All that said you won’t be overwhelmed by game modes and the single player experience is poor. With virtually nothing in terms of a storyline it basically boils down to bot-based training for the multiplayer sessions.
You can quickly jump into a ranked game (although opponent numbers were somewhat thin on the ground when we played) but unfortunately things start to slide somewhat when you land on the battlefield thanks to a cumbersome control layout. The usual scheme applies with the trigger buttons controlling the throttle and braking with the steering handled by the left analogue stick. However things veer off course when you come to move your vehicle around as you steer and travel in the direction of the aiming system on screen. In theory it should work but in reality there is a strange disconnected feeling between the car and the actual steering, almost to the point that you feel you are moving the aiming reticle as opposed to the vehicle itself. The system becomes especially difficult to fathom out when you have to reverse and it often means you end up hitting a wall. Meanwhile the right stick, which would have been far better to handle the aiming with, sits on the sidelines and is only ever used when requesting the ability to change class between spawns. With no way of changing the setup it is a frustrating experience and one which ultimately hobbles the game badly.
Weapon switching is also another particular bugbear for Wheels of Destruction. Weapons, which are collected from the battlefield, are selected using the directional pad but thanks to the fact that the icons are laid out in a straight line on the screen it can be somewhat difficult to remember which one to press in the heat of battle. There are only a handful of weapons available which include rockets, laser cannons, the gatling gun and a flame thrower. All of them feature an alternate fire mode with the standard gun doubling as a particularly effective shotgun which can finish players off. The flame thrower meanwhile continues to deal damage, cuts through shields and causes your HUD to disappear, should you have the misfortune to be hit with the weapon yourself, which can make it difficult to switch weapons and counter effectively. Elsewhere the rocket doubles as a mortar and the laser cannon can be particularly effective but only if you have the nimble fingers to find the target. Unfortunately the maps aren’t a particularly inspiring place to wage war with the weapons on offer. There are plenty of twists and turns but somehow, perhaps because of the setting, they feel a little underwhelming and a tad bland.
Where Wheels of Destruction does do slightly better is with some neat ideas involving acrobatics. The arenas are filled with jump pads and ramps which allow you to launch your vehicle into the air. Pushing forward or backwards on the left stick allows you to flip your car through the air on its axis. Getting decent air isn’t too tricky and landing the flips isn’t either with the added bonus that you can restore your armour and quickly get back to a decent fighting shape whilst escaping from an opponent.
There should have been a lot to like about Wheels of Destruction World Tour. There is definitely room in the market place for a well crafted multiplayer (which is where the game’s focus really lies despite having a single player option) vehicle combat game in the market. Unfortunately Wheels of Destruction isn’t quite it. The dodgy controls really don’t help the cause and with only a handful of maps and game modes it won’t be long before you’ve seen everything. Even with the relatively compact download and cheap(ish) price Wheels of Destruction is difficult to recommend, which is a shame as with a bit more polish in both the graphics and the controls this could have been a decent multiplayer shooter.