Wheels of Destruction: World Tour Review (PS3)

Wheels of Destruction: World Tour is an arcade-style car combat shooter. Set, apparently, on a post-apocalyptic Earth. I say apparently because, it being a predominantly multiplayer game, there is no wiff of a storyline at any point during the game. The maps don’t seem to particularly have an aesthetic of derelict or decay that would hint toward such events taking place. Nor do they have any indication, decor wise of their original states: Paris, Seattle, London, Tokyo and Rome. These five arenas make up Wheels of Destruction’s roster, but other than adding to the apocalyptic premise, it baffles me as to why they are called that. It also baffles me as to why in a post apocalyptic world people think it's a good idea to waste precious commodities such as fuel and ammunition on games of destruction derby...

Nevertheless, that is what you do. Five ‘classes’, five maps, three game modes, and a whole lotta blowing each other up. Each class is a separate car; the Heavy, Engineer, Soldier, Assassin, and the Scout. Despite all being an impressive variety visually speaking, they tend to group together in terms of how they handle and play. The Heavy is slow and powerful, and the Assassin and the Scout are fast but weak. The Engineer and Soldier aren’t as powerful as the Heavy, but aren’t as fast as the latter two, making them a good middle ground to work with. Choosing the right car is important, as taking damage causes wheels to pop off your car, which in turn makes it bloody hard to drive.

The Heavy can still dish out damage even with only one wheel

What car you choose will depend somewhat on your play preference, but the predominant factor will be the game mode. Deathmatch would have you choose the Heavy, to soak up the damage flying from all different directions, whereas Team Deathmatch might require a nipper car to actually get to the enemy base before the round ends. Capture the Flag, which is the third and final mode in the game, leans towards the middle ground cars, as it can take a while to get to the enemies flag, but by the time you do, if you’re in anything smaller than the Engineer, don’t expect to leave the base with your vehicle in tact.

The reason it can take a while to reach other parts of the map is not always due to your cars speed, but also the sprawling, multilayered layout of the maps. While Paris is a tight Monday Night Combat style arena of death, I spent most of the time on the London map traveling to where I thought the enemy would be, only to get blown to pieces when I got there. And this is where the real problems for Wheels of Destruction arises:

The handling is another pro for Wheels of Destruction. Drifting round maps is satisfying to say the least

For some reason, Gelid Games decided to add wheels to their third person shooter. In doing so, they forgot a few key differences between humans and cars. Firstly, humans have necks and have the ability to turn around to see what’s going on behind them, and secondly, cars can’t strafe. Combine these pesky flaws with the fact that there is no radar to detect cars around you, or when a rocket is approaching your vehicle, and you’ll find being blindsided becomes a very regular, and hugely annoying occurrence in the game. There aren’t properly defined differences between the controls for aiming and driving, camera-wise, and seeing how each map contains ramps and layers, making it virtually impossible to shoot someone above you is basically the same as painting a huge target onto the roof of your car. Furthermore, there is no way to doge the heat-seeking rockets that hurtle towards you, especially when you’ve just come out of combat with someone else, and your cars missing a wheel. All in all this can make for some very frustrating multiplayer gameplay moments that leave you feeling cheated. Especially when you know that you could have easily won a duel had you been given the adequate controls for the situation.

Aside from the rockets, other weapons available also include a flamethrower, a mini gun, and a rail gun, as well as jump and boost buttons. The rail gun is a single shot weapon that takes time to recharge, but can take a car out in one shot from the other side of the map. Each weapon also has a secondary attack, making shoot-outs more interesting than simply who can hold down shoot the longest.

The rail gun: Thank god cars don’t camp

There are certain redeeming features of Wheels of Destruction that stop it from entirely souring your experience. For example, it is fun to traverse the levels in your vehicle. There are launch pads and ramps aplenty in the game, and if you combine a jump with a boost, you can actually control your vehicle in mid-air, gaining shield points for acrobatic maneuvers such as flips. The firefight mode, (which only permits players to use the mini gun and its secondary shotgun feature) is also great fun, and is challenging and satisfying in equal measures.

All-in-all, the game can be a lot of fun, but basic gameplay controls and mechanics stifle its ability to really make a lasting impact on you other than one of untimely-rage quitting and frustration.

Top Game Moment: Getting a 20 kill streak the first time I tried firefight mode.