Games are becoming more like Hollywood each day, but are designed by various techniques that the player can control to experience the full action. Some games can function in various forms and can be therapeutic, artistic, or even overall entertaining with a combination of both. While mission variety is superb, the mission difficulties can border on too simplistic with Wheelman. Either way, gameplay is carried out terrifically for this driver action. Tigon Studios flagstones Hollywood action with a blockbuster storyline of the crossfire’s of corruption featuring hot quasi-nerd Vin Diesel along with unseen high stakes driving thrill to create an enticing Wheelman with a gameplay aspect that is unique with seamless divide between on-foot action and driving.
Set in the glamorous location of Barcelona, Spain, Wheelman places players in the mind of Milo Burik, an expert Wheelman voiced by Vin Diesel for that extra realism. Milo Burik is an undercover cop who has to work his way to catch a thief that has stolen very important information that could threaten the nation if released to the gangs you work for secretly. While the missions themselves are simplistic, Wheelman actually is more varied in terms of the pure quality of performance and thankfully the missions are not repetitive and boring. You will drive a man with a bomb attached to his chest to a disposal expert, following panicked and wrong directions as he guides you. You’ll end up in a drive to the Spanish Metro and chase a subway train, and much more action that relates to a Transporter-esque feel. Add all these missions with the free roam driving path, you explore the European city and navigate through believable environments that are filled with massively destructible objects for the likes of major explosions and all sorts of volatile action.
The main mission is included with 30 missions to finish, and there are 105 side missions. Side missions include a Wheelman take on racing where you are encouraged to deal with your competitors and modes where you have to destroy a car before it reaches a safehouse, or reach a safehouse while an entire gang tries to stop you. How you play the missions affects who hates you the most, and which of the gangs you will have your final face-off against.
While you are driving, it will be necessary to defy death. Survive feats and perform moves that are worthy of Hollywood-style mobile attack maneuvers. The various things you can do in terms of mobile maneuvers are incredible: Aimed Shot, 360 Cyclone Spin, and the ‘Air Jack’ that all combine to give increased freedom. Vehicular melee is the primary mode of attack that borders the game on a Burnout aspect. You earn focus, rather realistically to the virile action protagonist, by colliding with lamp posts and objects to gain focus. You then can use that focus to boost your speed or slow time while you shoot your gun out of the window, featured in Aimed Shot. The coolest move of the game that never gets old and would make John Woo drool is the Cyclone spin, one of the more unfeasible stunts that allow you to swing your car 180 degrees, shoot the tires and radiator of the car following you, and then flip another 180 and carry on driving. You are the Wheelman, it is no big deal.
Wheelman is simply incredible in terms of the vehicle melee combat, a feature that has never been included in a game with storyline setting in the way Wheelman asphalts towards. Change the camera angle to the sides, and engage in a hot pursuit with police that is guided by a similar star rating system to Grand Theft Auto. As you see cars to either side of you, smash right into them and truly experience something incredible. During pursuits, right when your vehicle is at the cusp of blowing up, do an Air Jack and watch as the game cleverly shifts a camera view and also adds an incredible slow-motion sense as you jump from one car to another at unbelievable high speeds and through mid-air to emphasize what you just did. Wheelman does action justice and is definitely a game for the action and adventure lovers in general.
This action title game is not without its problems like most action films. The game comes in the whole 20 percent/80 percent ratio divide between on-foot action and behind-the-wheel gameplay. One thing Wheelman needs is the ability to have ‘free-roam’ realized with more things to do on-foot. Free-roam is disappointing when it comes to the actual level design of the game that would have added a whole new depth if the Wheelman had more to do out of his car from time to time, but there is not much Milo can do without his wheels even though players can get out of their car anytime. Another problem is the on-foot controls that feel unwieldy when controlling weapons and seems more unfocused than the actual driving, where a clear emphasis is placed. Even with these problems, players still have to learn to appreciate the effort in providing a more free aspect to Wheelman that Tigon Studios has achieved in a certain aspect.
Having a multiplayer component missing is not such a huge problem. Tigon Studios and Midway were clearly aiming towards a storycentric approach that added quality to the cinematic experience of rendering the film like a Hollywood action blockbuster with Vin Diesel, and they managed to realize that not having multiplayer is understandable.
Wheelman is a worthy effort of being called a title by a studio that actually realizes the need to mix more summer Hollywood film action with the interactivity of video games featuring amazing performances by the entire cast of characters that make up the world of Wheelman and Barcelona. Having Vin Diesel voice himself and be heavily involved in the project cannot stop us from being happy about it even if the missions are simplistic in their gameplay. There are simply moments in Wheelman that despite being easy to pull off still remain to give a rewarding feeling and a chance to remember great moments. Wheelman takes players on a ride that many have wanted for ages, and manages to deliver most of the action, humor, and adventure that naturally comes with the plot.