Posted 4 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
It’s sure good to be Vin Diesel lately. Despite negative critics, his recent Fast and the Furious movie made lots of money, his Riddick game is awesome (our final review is coming soon) and there’s no sequel to The Pacifier planned. So the timing was perfect to release a videogame based on his next movie project: The Wheelman. Sadly, the game suffered a delay back in 2008, its publisher/developer (Midway) had money issues and the game was shifted to Ubisoft in a desperate move to release it as soon as possible. So, how does The Wheelman stand?
Here’s our review of The Wheelman.
You play as Milo Burik, a C.I.A informant with great driving skills going undercover as an American criminal trying to infiltrate a trifecta of Barcelonian gangs. The storyline is shallow and accompanied by forgettable characters. The script is poorly written and will make you concentrate on the missions rather than trying to understand Milo’s purpose. If you played games like Saints Row or GTA, you will find some resemblances as the game will take you from one location to another completing primary and secondary missions. Unlike GTA & Saints Row, however, you will find yourself playing the side-missions more than the main missions themselves. Yes, the storyline is that uninspired.
Although few of the missions are on-foot, they highly revolve around driving as its title hints. Thanks to Milo’s PDA, you will have the choice to either go straight to the main mission or go nuts on some of the side missions available that range from a Need For Speed Hot Pursuit inspired mode called “Fugitive” to a Burnout-esque seek and destruct mode called “Rampage” . By completing side missions, the player can unlock new areas, increase the handling and the power of the cars, improve the car’s melee attack power or gain access to new weapon caches. The PDA can also let you set waypoints, track the game’s progress, find out the location of your next mission as well as discovering other helpful locations. You can either set routes to your destination or go straight to your point of interest, giving you the choice to either drive around the city or completely skip it. To be honest, it’s good to have choice.
If you played games like Saints Row or GTA,
you will find some resemblances
Milo’s driving skills will let you perform melee attacks by moving the right thumbstick left to right and that it let you ram your opponents by smashing their cars up until they completely explode, damaging your car in the process. If you manage to eliminate your enemies quickly and efficiently, your car won’t suffer much damage, making you almost invincible. You will die but not that often since your car, even if it’s extremely damaged and running on the rims, you will be able to drive and complete your missions with ease. Milo has exceptional driving skills but it doesn’t mean he can’t have special moves. The game features a Focus system that allows you to perform cool stuff while driving cars or motorcycles. By driving flawlessly, you will fill up your focus gauge and be able to execute two slow-motion moves: the “Aim Shot”, a perfect and powerful gunshot through the windshield, or the “Cyclone”, a 180 degree spin move that will allow you to destroy multiple targets. You can also airjack civilian or enemy cars by driving close to them and execute a jump by pressing the appropriate button and releasing it at the correct time. These moves matched with the high-speed chases and its unrealistic hollywoodian approach grants The Wheelman an exhilarating ambiance that makes the gameplay entertaining. It does become repetitive and almost laughable at times but remains enjoyable even if the steering control has some balance issues, making the driving and the melee attacks tough to handle at times.
Milo’s driving skills will let you perform melee attacks
Early I mentioned that the game feature some on-foot missions. While I won’t spend much time talking about them, I can say it’s certainly the most boring and terrible aspect of the game. The aiming is bad, there’s no actual cover system and the enemies are dumb, requiring more than 5 bullets to actually kill them. They don’t ever wear bullet-proof vests… only nice, colourful and very powerful Spanish shirts.
Graphics & Sounds
The Wheelman’s visual work isn’t the greatest we’ve seen. Not that The Wheelman looks terrible but it definitely lacks finish. The characters sub-par animations and renderings and the unpolished textures make the game feel outdated. There’s not much happening in the streets of Barcelona with very few pedestrians and traffic. The game also suffers from lots of graphic glitches and bugs. Strangely enough, the game never experiences from any framerate slowdowns, which is good thing in this case. It could have held back the game to a point of no return.
The sound department doesn’t shine. The environmental effects are not that present and the voice-overs are bland, including Vin Diesel’s work. He talks only during cut-scenes staying mute during actual gameplay and unlike a game like Riddick, Diesel’s performance in the game shows no emotion whatsoever. The rest of the cast tries to hard to sound like Spaniards making them often sound like Hispanics living in North America for years acting as Spaniards. Even the Spanish swears in the subtitles are misspelled. Thankfully, the game’s soundtrack mix of licensed music and original flamenco music is good but not great.
Aside of the 10 hour main story, the game features a good array of side-missions all inspired from other racing-action games. There’s no multiplayer and very little incentive to go back to the game when you’ll be done with it. Like many games lately, the achievements on the Xbox 360 and trophies on the Playstation 3 are what will give gamers the replay value they’re often searching. The existence of a multiplayer mode could have helped the game. Not necessarily crash n’ smash matches like Burnout but at least some kind of a survival mode where you play as Vin and the others are running after you trying to kill you. That would have been really fun to see.
While it won’t win huge awards, The Wheelman remains a fun game to experience. The saddest part of all is that Midway’s economic problems have clearly hampered the development of the game. It feels unfinished, unpolished and compressed into its simplest form. When you go to the store to buy it or rent it, just don’t expect to be blown away and it won’t hurt your feelings. Don’t get me wrong, the game is fun. It just isn’t what many expected it to be.
+ Good number of side missions
+ Most of the visuals are okay, graphic engine holds its ground at all times
+ Acceptable music soundtrack
+ The game lets you jump from one mission to another quickly
- Main storyline is boring and short
- Poor voice-overs, Vin Diesel’s character shows no emotion
- Very little replay value incentive
- Odd character renderings and animations
- Graphical bugs and glitches
- Lack of a multiplayer mode
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Release Date : 2009/03/24
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Midway Home Entertainment
Category : Action
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10