Wheels of Destruction: Watch out for shrapnel

April 17, 2012

Available now on PSN: Wheels of Destruction, an arcade car combat game that features fast play, deadly cars and interesting layered environments. But is that enough to get your engine revving?

Rather than tell a story or delve into why exactly this post-apocalyptic world is the way it is, WoD goes right for the action by getting you into matches. From the start, you will notice there are limited options for gameplay. Online/Offline with only three modes of play each: Capture the Flag, Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch. Especially since this game lacks a tutorial you should start with Offline to get used to the five unique maps or more appropriately the different control scheme.

Here is where a lot of people will probably trip up on the game: the controls use a similar driving mechanic to Halo, using the left thumbstick to look in the direction you want to go. While this has some benefits to the game itself ,it is backward from most conventional arcade racing and will leave people with a sour taste. Alleviating this scheme is the capability to jump with your car, so for those who continually find themselves stuck in a corner, all they need to do is look away from the wall and jump so that their car will automatically be pointed in the direction you need to go. One of the downsides to this scheme, though, is not being able to see the cars coming up behind you, as you are actively moving towards an ammo pickup or safe haven, incapable of looking around. Regardless, it is worth spending time getting used to these controls, as the game itself is unforgiving but fun.

Five classes of cars are available to you during the game. Ranging from a Heavy tank-like car to lighter Scouts and Assassins, one thing is a common thread throughout though: dying. Unless you are driving the Heavy, almost all other cars are capable of being one-shot by others. WoD does provide repair stations and shield bonuses, but it doesn’t start you out with any shields, so if you don’t immediately go for some of the bonuses, you could already find yourself in a world of hurt. Luckily, the respawn time is short, and you do have the opportunity to swap car classes between deaths if you feel like your standard car isn’t cutting it. All in all it, does make for a quick, kill-or-be-killed fervency in matches.

Even though there are only five maps representing major cities (London, Paris, etc), each map is large and diverse. There are significant layers to each map, with hyper jumps, ramps and jumping points that can launch you half-way across the map. These arenas beg to be explored in an offline match, as Capture the Flag games necessitate being able to navigate these three-dimensional mazes efficiently to get back to your base. Weapon drops scattered throughout each level are slightly disappointing, as there are limited types and they could use some power balance. If you are not actively jumping and boosting around the map, you are a sitting duck for someone else’s quick kill.

Wheels of Destruction has a lot of things going for it. Unfortunately, it lacks a certain polish which could be fixed with patches including new modes or maps. For the $9.99 price, it is fun and decent enough to warrant, especially if you haven’t gotten your Twisted Metal fill yet.

Pros: Great visuals, diverse maps, fast and fun gameplay
Cons: Non-standard controls, no tutorials and limited replay value

Score: 3/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.