Midway's latest gives Hollywood something to talk about!
The easiest way to describe Wheelman is gaming meets Hollywood action. Borrowing from both genres, these types of combinations have been seen before, but this time it actually worked!
Midway’s latest puts you in the shoes of American agent Milo Burik (played by Vin Diesel) in Barcelona, Spain at the beginning of a local gang war. Your objective is to infiltrate the 3 major gangs and learn as much as possible about the whereabouts of a “package” which you later learn has the potential to kill thousands. Caught within a web of deceit, corruption, and greed, Milo must build contacts with as many people as he can while successfully keeping his cover. As good as the plot may sound on paper, don’t expect an engaging storyline. Wheelman sets out to be a Hollywood-esque thriller and the story follows as expected with clichés and twists any gamer can guess long before they happen. That said, what the story offers will please those looking for mindless action sprinkled with humor. Although Wheelman’s story won’t be garnering any critical acclaim, I did enjoy the narrative as a whole.
Where Wheelman pleases is the game’s action focused gameplay. The vehicle based control is standout, although foot missions could use some work. When in a vehicle, the right analog stick is primarily used for “car combat”, moving the stick left, right, and up will cause Milo to swing the car in said direction. The combat physics are interesting, because they are based on your momentum and location relative to where you want to “attack”. The faster you are moving and the further you are from an enemy vehicle the more damage you will do, going too far will cause you to do less damage or miss altogether. Attacking an enemy vehicle enough will lower its “health” and bring up a “finish him” scenario in which one more blow will completely destroy your foe, often resulting in a cinematic that fills you with pride.
The camera works really well in Wheelman, partially due to the fact that it plays such a vital role in the game. It effectively creates intense Hollywood style moments, such as when you air jack another vehicle—jumping from your car onto another while driving so as to steal a new car—by moving to a view in front of the player so you can watch your car burst into flames just as you jump out.
A welcome addition to Wheelman is the checkpoint save system. The game will save your progress at various checkpoints throughout a mission making story progress a much easier affair than in other similar games. Failing to complete an objective will bring you back to your last checkpoint instead of the beginning of the mission. This feature has come in handy and should be adopted by all sandbox games, especially during the longer more fatiguing missions.
When in vehicle, pulling off difficult stunts, destroying objects, speeding, etc will fill up a gauge located in the bottom left corner of the screen. The gage will only remain filled while Burik is actively engaged in any of the aforementioned activities. Filling the gauge will allow you to pull off a variety of super-moves such as the “Cyclone”, “Aim Shot”, and special boost ability.
The “cyclone” involves Milo taking a 180 degree turn and firing at his pursuers in slow motion until the gage runs out. You are able to shoot anywhere on your enemy although shots that will do maximum damage are often marked by a reticule. “Aim shot” is similar to the cyclone move although Milo simply fires in front of him in slow motion. At times reticules may point out weak spots; you still have full control of your vehicle so maneuvering for maximum exposure is key. The boost ability obviously makes you go faster, so you won’t notice its full effect in missions since your enemy also has the ability. That being said, don’t count it out. Using your boost at the appropriate time can save your life by allowing your health to regenerate to safe levels while on the run or set you up for a nice air jack.