As a general rule, I have a bias towards car combat games. They simply speak to my primal instinct of reckless driving. That said, when Wheels of Destruction was announced, I was completely on board. A downloadable title that would allow me to hop online and obliterate opponents in a flurry of rockets and gunfire is always intriguing to me. Unfortunately, Twisted Metal this game is not. Marred by an uninspired set of features and an offline mode that will bore you to tears, Wheels of Destruction is simply a missed opportunity that will likely be forgotten in a month.
The first thing you will notice once you get into the game is a lack of, well, everything. The offline mode doesn’t have a tutorial or a training mode; simply a skirmish mode where you can battle against opponents, check your stats, then rinse and repeat. It really is immensely tedious after a while. There is no campaign to introduce the mechanics or make it interesting. Right off the bat, if you don’t intend to go online, then there is certainly nothing for you to see here.
Hopping online doubles the stakes (literally). Instead of just deathmatch, you now have access to deathmatch (and team deathmatch) and capture the flag- and that is it. Seriously, two modes with nothing original to bring to the table is simply disappointing. Even with that said, the game could still stand out with a nice variety of weapons, tracks and vehicles. Sadly, this is also not the case. The core game ships with six uninspired vehicles and only four weapons to choose from. Matches usually consist of heading for rocket pickups and attempting to wrestle the controls long enough to destroy your foes. It never gets exciting, and it never changes up. It’s not a good combination for a game that relies on only two modes of play.
One of the issues with WoD is the control scheme. I am not sure who designed this, but it is definitely not ideal for this type of game. Your gas and rockets are both mapped to the right triggers/bumpers. I don’t know about you, but I usually only use one finger on the triggers, forcing me to play this game with a weird hand position. Secondly the cars handle like a Warthog in Halo. You move the reticule with the left analog stick and the car adjusts. You cannot use the right stick to aim at targets, but instead must rely on a lock-on mechanic that works- sometimes.
The one redeeming factor to the game is its map design. There are only five to choose from, but each one is well designed for car combat. Launch pads and secret paths keep things interesting when in a match. Once you master the jump and boost mechanic, zipping around each map is definitely enjoyable. It just stinks that the core mechanic, the combat, is so poorly implemented. Matches usually end up becoming mosh pits of chaos. Damage is hard to register, and weapons do far too much damage, so you are usually dead before you know you have been hit.
If you do manage to master the combat, come to grips with the lack of content and still find yourself having fun, the game lags so badly at times online that it is almost unplayable. This is truly aggravating, because it is not exactly a taxing game, nor is it something that would seem to require a lot of data transfer leading to lag. The game simply feels poorly designed on almost every level. Even the visual aesthetic feels generic. I wish I could port the maps from this game into a better car combat game, though, as they truly are the highlight of an overly disappointing package.
Fans of car combat would do wise to steer clear of Wheels of Destruction. The game is a disappointing array of poorly implemented mechanics wrapped in a selection of well-designed levels. Nothing had me coming back for more in this game, and I love the genre. If you own a PS3, and are looking for the definitive car combat experience, you know where to look. This attempt feels exactly like what it is; a cheap knock-off that defines the phrase, ’you get what you pay for’. I couldn’t, in good conscience, recommend this game to anyone looking for a good experience in the genre. It simply isn’t fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.