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Wheelman – hands-on

Lara Croft has had a monopoly on gaming tits for too long. Mirror’s Edge thought it was too stylish to let Faith use the first-person perspective to look down and press her knockers together. And we’re not even sure if Sackgirls have sexy organs on them. It’d take someone utterly shameless, brazen, and without substance to try to compete with Lara’s bust. Oh hi, Vin. Didn’t see you there.

 

It’s too easy to focus on Diesel’s pecs and mirthless mug, and not notice that Wheelman is just trying to be a barn-full of silly fun. It won’t change the world, it probably won’t score a ten, and it won’t help you pass your driving test. But if you can electrify yourself into an undiscerning stupor, the relentless cinematic action and “Vehicle Melee” should carry you perfectly happily through the 30-odd hours of gameplay. Just don’t play it through in one go, or you might never be able to do sums again.

This vehicular melee idea puts the game closer to Burnout than Driver. You earn focus by popping wheelies on a motorbike or from drifting and colliding with street furniture. You can use that focus to boost your speed or slow time while you shoot your gun out of the window. One of the more unfeasible stunts is to swing your car 180 degrees, shoot the tires and radiator of the car following you (topping it off with a shot to the driver’s face), and then flip another 180 and carry on driving. The focus tests have been positive, and you can see why – it’s instantly fun to play, and a laugh to watch. Vin Diesel is no comic actor – the humor comes from the lunacy - the absolute barking insanity in which Vin’s character, Milo Burik, remains heroically serious as he flips and spins at waves of oncoming traffic, all guns blazing.

Which brings us to the plot. As a synopsis, it reads a bit like Need for Speed Undercover. You’re a cop who has to work his way into the underground by driving fast and often. But it’s much more varied and engaging than NFS’ repetitive chases and dire cutscenes: it’s actually well-acted. You’ll ferry a man with a bomb strapped to his chest to a disposal expert, following his panicked and occasionally wrong directions as he guides you to the house. You’ll drive into the Spanish Metro and chase a hijacked subway train. All this, to reach the thief who stole ‘potentially nation-breaking’ information, before he sells it to the gangs you’re working for.

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10 comments

  • demo117 - January 1, 2009 3:16 a.m.

    I DONT THINK I AM GOING TO BUY IT BECAUSE THEY SAID IT WAS GOING TO BE MORE LIKE BURNOUT THAN DRIVER.I LIKE MORE SHOOTING GAMES THAN I DO RACING/CAR-COMBAT.
  • understudybass - January 1, 2009 6:04 a.m.

    did that really need to be in all caps? no. no it did not.
  • Yellowhat17 - January 1, 2009 6:13 a.m.

    MAN CAPS LOCK IS SURE AWESOME BECAUSE PEOPLE REALLY TAKE ME SERIOUSLY WHEN I'M IN CAPS LOCK!!! Anyways, this game looks pretty great... but not something I'll be too interested in.
  • cart00n - January 1, 2009 10:40 p.m.

    Personally, I think Vin Diesel is pretty cool. Sure, some of his movie choices haven't been that great (XXX, those Disney comedies), but he's proven to be a pretty versatile actor, choosing interesting roles that he can learn from. The fact that he loves epic sci-fi and video games is pretty awesome, too. He's just a fan trying to do good by his fellow fans, why all the hate?
  • TheCorpulent1 - January 2, 2009 3:06 p.m.

    I'll admit it: I don't like Vin Diesel. At all. I think Pitch Black is literally the only movie I've liked him in, and he was a totally one-note bastard in that. So his presence might've influenced me to not even try this game normally. Having seen GR's articles on it so far, though, I have to admit that it sounds like a really fun game. Like the best parts of GTA, Burnout: Paradise, and every ridiculously over-the-top action movie ever made put together. I'll probably rent it at the very least.
  • HitViper - January 2, 2009 9:06 p.m.

    This sounds like a bad movie based game without the movie, i think that it will be moderatly sucessful but not something that people will remember.
  • bradders1495 - December 31, 2008 10:36 p.m.

    FIRST!
  • a_citizen - January 1, 2009 7:53 a.m.

    really demo? DOES THIS PLEASE YOU? HMM? do you have LIVE? is your gamertag in all capitals too? they wrote an article on gamer names, you know. maybe you need some attention? i think so.
  • YoctoYotta - January 1, 2009 8:54 a.m.

    Vin Diesel ain't so bad, I thought that movie Find Me Guilty was pretty good, it was a true story in which he played a 40/50-ish year-old Italian gangster that was on trial for his organization's alleged crimes. He's got hair in it, I don't need to say more. I can't speak for his action movies like XXX or whatever, probably crap, but he can act when needed.
  • zeroone - January 2, 2009 6:58 a.m.

    there's no hate, just opinions. In my case, tough I think some of his movies were reaaaaly crappy, I loved the Riddick saga, and I like what he's doing right now, making his own video-game company, paying people to make games he likes an thinks people are gona like too. I'm waiting for the new Riddick game, wich, if it is as good as the old one but with better graphics, its gona be awesome

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