|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Midway / Tigon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
May 29, 2008 - Who doesn't love Vin Diesel? Well, there might be quite a few people who don't particularly like the guy (especially film critics and anyone who saw XXX), but no one can deny that he is a solid action movie superstar. Whether you loved him in the original Fast and The Furious or in Pitch Black, Diesel has a certain knack for high velocity action movies, and can light up the screen with explosives. Now Diesel will try and conquer a new field outside of action movies, action videogames.
Diesel's likeness has been in video games before, like in the Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. But this time, instead of a game inspired by a movie, the game will be preceding the movie. The Wheelman is rumored to be a movie project in the works for 2009, but the game is on track for a Winter 2008 release. So, can Vin Diesel hold his own in an original video game? Diesel will star as character Milo Buri who, (as you might imagine), is an excellent wheelman. The game is set in the thriving metropolis of Barcelona, Spain, and features a realistic representation of this European paradise complete with traffic and pedestrians. As a wheelman, you'll have two main roles: to execute awesome vehicle moves and to be a gunman.
As Milo Burik, you will be able to steal cars and do various jobs around the city. I'm sure I am not alone in thinking this sounds a lot like GTA. However, the Wheelman should be distinct enough, and will feature an interesting, vehicle-based weapon system. Instead of utilizing your gun and blasting bullets all the time, The Wheelman lets you use your vehicle as a weapon, and not just in the figurative sense! Your vehicle will have a set of melee attacks that will be triggered via the right thumbstick. These melee attacks range from short swipes, to full-on vehicle assaults. These attacks look pretty cool, and offer a really distinct facet to the gameplay.
Of course, if you are more of a shoot-'em-up traditionalist, you can still use an arsenal of weapons to demolish anyone in your way. The cool thing about the gunplay in this title is you are not limited to just using it outside your car. The game makes several provisions for in-car shooting, and some of the melee attacks incorporate gunplay. For example, one of the title's most touted special moves is the "Cyclone." This move allows you to spin the vehicle 360 degrees while firing precision shots at enemies the whole time. This move, along with several others, will really help set this title apart.
So now let's talk about vehicles. Basically, all of the vehicles in the Wheelman will have to be stolen, but this is a good thing, as it means basically nothing is off-limits. You can steal eighteen-wheeled semis, motorcycles, and everything in between. All of these vehicles will have their own set of melee attacks, so the vehicle portion of the gameplay will remain fresh as you try out different vehicles. Hopefully, this title will include a vehicle save system (similar to the Safehouse parking element in GTA) that will allow you to keep your favorite vehicles in a single location for use anytime.
Visuals in this title look sharp, and the Barcelona cityscape looks awesome. Although it is not recreated street by street, all of the major landmarks are there, and the game faithfully recreates the busy streets of the Spanish metropolis. There is a high level of detail, and some have expressed concern that this might hinder the framerate in the game's final version. However, the developers maintain that The Wheelman will run at a modest and consistent 30 fps. There will be tons of realistic traffic congestion, both from vehicles and pedestrians, and developers promise that your interactions with both of these elements will be very realistic.
The Wheelman looks like a very promising title with an action movie feel. Combining elements from GTA, Stuntman, and even the Burnout series, The Wheelman looks to be a fun, high-octane title. The fact that it stars Vin Diesel might be a selling (or discouraging) point for some, but the gameplay looks entertaining enough. Hopefully, this title will stand on the merits of its gameplay rather than its movie star.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer