Wheels of Destruction: World Tour is the latest vehicular combat game to land on the PlayStation Network from North Californian developers, Gelid Games. This is the team’s first title, however it is team made up of seasoned professionals that have worked on many mobile and console titles. So do all these fine ingredients make for a refreshing game? Let us find out.
In short, Wheels of Destruction (WoD) has you selecting from a number of vehicles and then setting down rubber across a few worldwide locations, hurtling bullets and rocket fire along the way. Think of it as Unreal Tournament on wheels, perhaps a Warthog in fact - more on that later.
WoD is a multiplayer only game, meaning no single player to go through and our best friend, the internet, to rely on. From the menu you are able to go straight into the action Online, set up an Offline game, Join a Friend or Spectate a live running match.
Selecting the Online mode brings up the usual choices for any Ranked and Unranked match. The maps available within the World Tour take you to Paris, Seattle, London, Tokyo and Rome. In each map you’ll find plenty of drop off points, weapons, shield, ammo and repair packs dotted around them.
Multiplayer modes in the game are again the standard choices of Death Match, Team Death Match and Capture The Flag. These modes are all self explanatory if you have played any game online over the last few years, and it is a shame there where no modes made to suit the game’s car combat genre more, for example Last Man Standing or Tag. The selection of modes here are very safe, nothing more, and it’s a little disappointing its developers didn’t try harder here.
Once in the game you’ll soon get the feel of how your car controls, which isn’t too far off how the Warthog controls in Halo. This method is where you control your weapon’s view and the car automatically turns to follow. It takes some getting used to at first if you are not used to this style of control, but overall, it does make you concentrate more on what you are shooting from your vehicle rather than trying to point your car in the right direction and then firing like in Twisted Metal.
All your guns pivot 360 degrees on the roof of your vehicle. This means there are many battles where you and your enemy circle around each other until one of you run out of armour first and die. This laughable combat method isn’t the most gripping way to play the game, but if you give this form of control to a gamer we soon find the ways to easily exploit them, even if it does look stupid.
There are four types of weapons that can be picked up around each arena, each with a primary and secondary weapon type. The default weapon that will never run dry is the Gatling Gun and Shotgun. These are your backup weapons, should you run out of the more powerful premium weapons on offer.
The first of the three premium weapons are the Rocket Luncher and Motor. As you can expect, the launcher fires your rockets in a straight line, whilst the Motor will lob it forward in an arc. The second premium weapon is the Railgun and BFG. Both of these Quake/Doom inspired weapons behave just as you’d think, with the Railgun firing a deadly single laser shot and the BFG firing a plasma bomb that will cause carnage to whatever it hits first. The last of the three premium weapons are the Flamethrower and Ring of Fire. The Flamethrower will spew out a jet of fire towards your enemy, whilst the Ring of Fire launches a circular pulse of fire that ejects out from your car in all directions - a great way of finishing off those close quarter ‘circling’ combat moments.
There are five cars in total to choose from in WoD. Each have their own characteristics, limitations and abilities that they excel in. The Engineer is a nimble little buggy that has good shields and boost stats, but is less durable. The Assassin has speed and ammo on its side, but with less shield power it is very vulnerable to fire. Like the Engineer, the Scout vehicle is fast and has high boost stats, however its low ammo and shield abilities forces you to keep this particular car on the move to avoid fire. The Soldier is the game’s ‘safe’ vehicle, featuring medium stats throughout. Finally we have the Heavy, which is a slow tank-like vehicle that packs high in its shields and ammo stats.
It is always frustrating to review such titles like WoD that heavily rely on its online fanbase, and when it is a download title from a new unproven developer it is difficult to make your mark and entice a server full of players. At this time of writing, only a few days since its release, online play is a ghost town of empty matches waiting to start. I found it fairly difficult to find a packed 12 player match to play in. Luckily we have the Offline mode to fall back to, with its highly skilled AI opponents - *gulp*.
Sadly WoD disappoints regardless of whether you are online or not. The finger points mostly towards the maps in the game. Five maps is the average for a digital download title, so there’s no complaints there, but each map feels way too big. With a full 12 player Team Death Match or Capture the Flag match underway you’ll mostly find yourself driving around looking for a fight, and when you do it is over in seconds, if you are not prepared or recovered from the shock of actually finding someone. With plenty of paths to drive along, vast open arenas to get lost in, teleports confuse you and sliding doors to block your view into other areas, it can be a challenge to find an opponent, and that is with a full room! You can imagine how much worse this is with a server full of only a handful of online combatants.
I’ll give credit to Gelid Games for their first attempt, but I feel with the experience they claim to have under their belt they may have played it too safe. A game of this type needs a dash of originality, a dollop of risk and plenty of online players in its servers. For someone fresh out of the gates I can see getting player numbers up will prove to be very tough for the developer. Releasing after the marketed juggernaut Twisted Metal and a few other online vehicular titles on PSN hasn’t helped this game’s progress either. Lets hope its developers will learn from this and dig deep into their collective knowledge and develop something they know will be a surefire winner, because sadly Wheels of Destruction: World Tour isn’t it.