• Wheels of Destruction Review - Sony PS3

    Wheels of Destruction comes at an odd time in the current climate where Twisted Metal has placed car battling games back on the map with a fully boxed release and the beloved Wrecked series is making a recent return. Gelid games has taken this opportunity to throw its hat in the ring and created an arena car deathmatch game with a heavy focus on online play. Heavy focus here meaning that there is very little in the way of single player content on offer so potential purchasers should be warned that WoD is likely to thrive on any community that it can establish in the early days of its life.

    Whether you play in single player with bots or multiplayer online you only have three game modes to choose from; Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch and Capture the Flag. The game is produced with the Unreal Engine so it looks good, if lacking a little in real primary colours but that isn't out of place with the premise that the world is in ruins and people have taken to driving around in slightly different cars trying to kill each other. For sport perhaps because it isn't that much fun.

    The biggest problem aside from the lack of single player goals or accomplishments to work towards is the handling. In what seems at first to be a bizarre decision you do not have direct control of your vehicle. At all. This even extends to the actual car models. You turn the analogue stick and the wheels do not turn. Some magical force propels your vehicle in the direction that you have pointed it. This may immediately put players off. If it doesn't though, and after messing around with the controls, it will become apparent that the magical force is the crosshair hovering above each vehicle. That model might work in other types of games, primarily those where the focus isn't vehicle based combat, but here is just feels odd. With time a certain degree of skill can be acquired and ingenious frags can be achieved because you don't need to concentrate on your vehicle's handling. Easier then, but not better.

    There are five different classes of vehicle, all with differing statistics based on speed, durability and weapon strength but trying to promote a balanced team approach, where each class gets to play to its strengths is impossible with the built in bots and extremely difficult with real players. Cars are obviously quicker than humans and the speed of the gameplay deteriorates quickly into chaos instead of precision. An online progression system is sorely missing here as is any form of vehicle customisation. It would have added significant impetus to replay the game if you were levelling up your cars as you went along but unless you fall in love with the combat there really isn't any reason to continue playing. There are also five arenas available which depending on your patience might be enough to see you through WoD. They are all based on real world cities like London or Tokyo but they all look surprisingly similar.

    There are different weapon pick ups available to add some tactical depth to the game and all of them have an alternate fire mode. They operate as you expect with rockets being the most useful for long range combat and flamethrowers and shotguns being suitable for close range. Their consistency is hampered by the strange control choices mentioned above, essentially meaning that movement, camera and aiming are all mapped to the same stick which limits the options available to you in slower or stationary combat. Reversing and shooting is basically impossible to do with any precision at all.

    WoD could have been a reasonable arena combat game that would have built a solid community for itself. Strange control decisions and bland design leave it hanging out in the corner of average town though. Gelid Games were heavily promoting WoD as the car based Team Fortress 2 but now that the game is released it is clear that it is based on an older template, that of perhaps the very first Unreal Tournament, except less fun. Aside from the cheaper point of entry than some other similar games it is hard to see who will want to play WoD for any length of time. The controls start it out on the wrong foot and things do not improve the more you delve beneath the surface.

    + Nice Unreal graphics
    + Reasonable attempt at vehicle arena combat

    - Awful controls
    - Lack of incentive to play
    - Bland

    Developer: Gelid Games
    Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
    Other Versions: Global (Digital Only)
    Version Reviewed: European

    Score: 4/10