Wheels of Destruction

A strong first try.

By Daavpuke, Posted 04 Apr 2012

Here’s an idea that’s different: Create a refreshing take on the car combat genre that is seeing a lot of traction in 2012 and have it rely on an online multiplayer experience. Then, make sure that multiplayer aspect is by far the least developed element in the game. This is the beautifully presented game Wheels of Destruction, built on the shiny Unreal Engine.

The notion is simple enough: A handful of metallic and urban arenas get the paint whacked out of them and updated with laser beams to look like a post-apocalyptic Tron, all the way down to the vehicles. These crisp, well-executed death islands get powerup holograms scattered around them; add a few jumping platforms, boosting strips and other clever level modifiers and the stage is set for farcical theatrics the likes only a good monster truck show can present. Except this time, the trucks also have a set of weapons such as shotguns, lasers, missiles and flamethrowers.

To support this buffoonery, Wheels of Destructions physics are equally as unserious as its visual presentation. Cars are able to jump, slide and float away by using the speed boost mid-air. If Cirque du Soleil was a car show, it would vaguely resemble this flashy title. For those still unsure if this is either good or bad: This is good; surprisingly good even. It takes a while to sink in however.

No matter how it’s viewed; games involving cars need tight controls and Wheels of Destruction can’t run along with that, given aforementioned points. Instead, it finds new ground, which comes at the hand of a few extremely bizarre design choices. For one, the 360° degrees aiming pivot is linked to the steering, so turning that way will quickly become hell incarnate. Given aiming goes much faster than turning, players wanting to turn their car traditionally will end up disoriented and hindered by their own vehicle.

Wheels of Destruction - NoobFeed Review

Instead, this game requires holding in the loose drifting button in order to sync the movements more or less together and regain control of the situation. It sounds awful, but after adaptation it actually becomes a forte. Forget everything that is taught in any previous driving game; learn the simple adjustment steps and this skidding, sweeping tour will be surprisingly intoxicating. Nonetheless, as this requires momentum and can’t be applied to walls or backward driving, it loses finesse in some points. More so, the focus on forward movement gets additionally strained by the islands and their edges of instant death. It’s a dated and dreary gameplay element amidst something new, which is inexplicable. One level in particular has an impossible jump platform at the edge of doom that is either genius trolling by the programmers or a horrid use of the feature.

Additionally, Wheels of Destruction thinks cars shooting the wheels literally off each other, down to a pitiful one-wheeled body, need even more impetus. Therefore, it introduces jumping and dynamic flips. Players can hop around and do forward or backward flips and even reap rewards as shield bonuses for doing a full turn. All the motion paired with the high intensity combat and differing environment situations make fights intense, whether in open landscapes or down corridors.

This is equally portrayed with 5 car classes, which at first don’t seem to have any balance, but definitely own up to their strengths once fully explored. The classes with low health seem like a liability at first, certainly given most weapons pick off cars in 1 shot with no preparation. Yet, in the 3 different modes, Deathmatch (DM), Team Deathmatch (TDM) and Capture The Flag (CTF), each will find its role; certainly in CTF. Slicker types like the Scout and Assassin will take their strength from their obvious trait of speed and deadly force respectively. An engineer is a great asset when enemies need to get scoped out with its powerful radar. Additionally, it owns the highest jump and speed boost, making it quite the spider-monkey. A Heavy soaks up damage and the Soldier is the traditional rounded out class, which for once is actually an average of all classes instead of a generic car.

Wheels of Destruction - NoobFeed Review

There’s even more, oh yes! Surprisingly, this game doesn’t cripple its own lifespan by only being available online, but also features an offline mode as well as online with bots. This artificial intelligence is even up to par, stumping any tactic one might have, with ease. Unfortunately, this is also where the bomb drops: Be prepared to fight bots more than humans, because Wheels of Destruction does not work online. The game features a Ranked mode, for bragging rights, which should rightfully be the main attraction of this wonderful circus. Yet, in the 50 or so attempts pre- and post-release, the game never found more than 1 opponent, which begs to question if the matchmaking isn’t horrendously broken. More than likely, Wheels of Destruction just creates a match for each player separately, but then forgets to actually add other players and makes those other guys their own game as well. The result is everyone waiting endlessly in their solo game.

It did succeed in having 6 players from the available 12 at one particular interval. This would explain the leaderboards actually being filled with people no one encounters. The final nail in the online coffin is that this brief stint away from direct head to head resulted in the game warping out of control; dropping connections and losing players never to be seen again. This lasted less than five minutes before ultimately a dozen more tries got 0 results once more. It might be different in the future; dear Lord let it be, but then the glitches occurred to multiplayer strain would still apply.

Wheels of Destruction is best viewed as a strong first try at a singleplayer brawler. As such, the limited content and innovatively designed ideas flourish despite some finesse issues that hinder gameplay. As an online component, it leaves much to be desired upon release and as that is a strong focus for this game, it’s hard to imagine it prospering before tanking fast. At least it tried.

Daav Valentaten, NoobFeed. (@Daavpuke)

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General Information

Platform(s): PS3
Publisher(s): Gelid Games
Developer(s): Gelid Games
Genres: Vehicular Combat
Themes: Competition
Release Date: 2012-04-03

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