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Wheels of Destruction

Ever since the reboot of Twisted Metal debuted, it was plagued by connectivity issues that have yet to be truly resolved. It would seem that Wheels of Destruction, a multiplayer-only PSN title, would be a godsend for anyone craving fast-paced, car-on-car violence in the online realm. Shockingly, Wheels of Destruction has shameful lack of the things that make car combat enjoyable.

Vehicular warfare and post-apocalyptic settings go hand-in-hand. The paper-thin story is that some sort of worldwide devastation has befallen the planet and everyone has decided to kill each other with cars, because that’s just par for the course. As an online-only title, this flimsy pretext is forgivable. The story is immaterial so long as solid gameplay backs it up.

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Which, unfortunately, Wheels of Destruction lacks. The most noticeable problem is the controls, which become impossible to manage when put in a tight spot. Cars control like the Warthogs from Halo where aiming, pointing the camera, and driving in a particular direction are all tied together. It’s an incredibly unwieldy system that constantly causes mobility problems.

The targeting system, by contrast, overcompensates to where there’s no way to shake off missiles or other weaponry once locked-onto. Unlike other car combat titles, there’s no radar or any other way to tell where a heat-seeking missile is coming from until it finds its target. No defensive measures can be taken, and tactics are further limited by the small handful of weapons available, all of which are severely overpowered.

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Each weapon has two attacks: standard and alternate, with alternate being the slower and heavier option. The default weapon is a rather weak machinegun with the alternate attack being a shotgun blast which completely decimates any opponents in a surprisingly wide radius, effectively destroying any semblance of balance the game might’ve had.

The cars themselves are nothing special either, despite what their monikers would have you believe. Although each car is named something like Heavy, Soldier, Assassin, and so forth, none of them have any actual abilities one would expect from a class-based online title. Each car is slightly heavier or faster than the other, and that’s it.

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Gameplay itself is incredibly limited as well due to the lack of any truly compelling modes. There’s deathmatch, team deathmatch, and capture the flag and none feels particularly more fun to play than the others. Beyond the balance and control issues, the cars are quite slow in comparison to many other titles. Most of the time is spent exploring the needlessly huge levels for an opponent, and to be frank it’s difficult imaging Wheels of Destruction will have a thriving online community in the future.

Wheels of Destruction plays like a vehicles-only mod for Unreal Tournament. While on paper that might sound like a good idea, in practice not so much. Cars are sluggish and painful to manage while the core gameplay feels unbalanced and oversimplified. A lack of modes, or even a simple story mode, severely limits the game’s potential for online longevity. Overall, Wheels of Destruction adds nothing to the car-combat genre or as a PSN title in general, and its fate is to ultimately be relegated to the scrapheap

3 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in March 2010.

Gentle persuasion

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