The car combat/battle racing scene may have experienced a recent surge in popularity thanks the acclaimed return of Twisted Metal, though casting an eye on the niche genre’s digital offerings tells a different story altogether.
Supersonic’s Wrecked: Revenge Revisited veered off in a number of keys areas with Version 2’s Smash N Survive barely managing to claw its way past the starting line. Despite being the most promising of the lot, Wheels of Destruction from Gelid Games proves to be just as flawed; it may not be a complete write-off, but the misleading premise and mind-numbing gameplay warrant a one-way ticket to the scrapyard.[drop]You won’t find us rushing the to defence of the two previously mentions car combat games, though even at their worst, they still have something Wheels of Destruction does not – a comprehensive, albeit uninspiring, single player component. Gelid Games has made the textbook error of clumsily tossing all of its eggs into the rather battered-looking, unstable multiplayer basket, the game’s success thereby hinging on its already dwindling playerbase.
That’s not to say Wheels of Destruction is completely devoid of any single-player content: you can still set up any of the three match types across the five available maps with bots, though it feels primitive, the game’s shameful “class” system only adding to the disappointment.
The notion of adopting a specific class or role in a team is one that likely appeals to any online gamer worth his/her salt. However, if you were hoping to start popping up sentries, sniping foes from afar and healing team mates, then you’re barking up the wrong tree, no matter how misleading Gelid’s pre-launch promotions have been.
The studio has even gone as far as comparing Wheels of Destruction to Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress 2, bold claims that are made completely transparent the moment you hit the throttle.
There are five different types of vehicle but to say there are any real distinctions between them is preposterous to say the least. There are no unique abilities here or nuances in the gallery of weapons available; this so-called “class” system simply boils down to the two following statements:
- Some cars go faster than others.
- Some cars can take slightly more of a beating than others.
In the field of battle, things only get worse. Instead of sticking with the tried and tested control schemes its contemporaries have adopted for years, Wheels of Destruction commits itself to an archaic system in which the camera and steering become one; wherever you drop the crosshair, that’s where your heading.
The actual vehicle-on-vehicle combat fares no better, unfortunately. No matter which of the five weapons you happen to be carrying, all of them use the same hand-holding autolock system that saps any sense of skill or precision from the game.
Especially in the case of Twisted Metal, what makes the car combat genre so appealing to online gamers is the sense of satisfaction after unleashing a well placed shot or narrowly avoiding certain death.
In Wheels of Destruction there are no such instances; players simply make sure their opponent is in sight and then hammer down on the fire button until a cluster of pixels appear, rubbing their ego in the most unjustified of manners.
Though it’s not really much consolation, the game looks stunning in places. Even in using the Unreal Engine, the file size for Wheels of Destruction is surprisingly small, the rapid loading times only adding to the technical splendour. They may be aesthetically pleasing, but no amount of polish can gloss over the sporadic design of the game’s five maps, not to mention the unfortunate lack of vehicle customisation.
- Looks pretty.
- Trophy-like challenges at least give players something to do.
- Fast loading, relatively few bugs.
- “Class” system is completely transparent.
- Combat is far too simplistic.
- Only four weapons (excluding default minigun.)
- Substantive singleplayer is given the cold shoulder.
- Maps are often too big and winding.
- Online progression is limited to leaderboards.
It may be technologically succinct but in neglecting the needs of solo players and bypassing what makes the car combat genre so engaging, Wheels of Destruction leaves an unmistakably sour taste. If you’re gagging for another arena-based car game post-Twisted Metal, we’d strongly recommend hanging around for Psyonix’s SARPBC 2.