First Impressions: Wheelman Demo Review


Last week we got a double dose of Diesel on Xbox Live and man were we pumped here at PNG.  Jeff definitely piqued my interest during our last Audiophile when he compared it to Burnout with a story.  As I fell deeply in love with Burnout Paradise, I couldn’t see anything wrong with giving the demo a shot.  After all, it is free.

After playing the 3 missions they give you in the demo, I can say three words enthusiastically.  Play this now.

The first mission starts you out in what looks like a setup for a bank job.  Milo (Diesel’s character and the wheelman) is hanging out in a Pontiac outside of a bank and takes notice of some suspicious looking characters watching him and keeping an eye on the bank’s entrance.  What I assume is the female lead walks out and of course the bank alarm goes off.  Diesel puts the car in reverse and does a 180 so said female could hop in the back of the car as bullets go through the back window.  The game then puts you in control.

This first mission has you tearing ass through Barcelona as you try to lose the cops.  The cars are rendered beautifully and the action moves pretty fast.  Luckily, the controls are pretty tight and mapped well that every little turn or sideswipe feels just so right.  The only time it gets a little touchy is when you’re firing at other cars.  This causes Milo to lock onto the car with the camera and makes steering just a little bit tricky.

When Jeff mentioned that this is essentially Burnout with a story, he was not exaggerating at all.  While it doesn’t do it in quite the same detail as Burnout Paradise, when cars crash, you’re treated to a nice little slo-mo that shows it falling apart and exploding.   There’s also a couple of moves that allow you to either go into slo-mo and shoot key areas of targets in front of you, or spin the car around 180 degrees while keeping it’s forward momentum so you can go into slo-mo and take out enemies behind you.  This makes the game feel incredibly cinematic at times and just adds to it’s overall “holy shit, I can’t believe I just did that” appeal.

That’s not where this game stops going B-A-N-A-N-A-S though.  After you complete that first mission, you’re thrust into a side mission called Made to Order where you drive behind marked cars that need to be stolen and “airjack” them.  If you’ve ever played a game called Pursuit Force for PSP, you’ll get the idea of what airjacking is.  Mr. Diesel essentially hops out of the driver’s side window of his moving car and leaps onto the vehicle in front of him.  He then vaults through the passenger side window and dropkicks the driver out of the car.  You then drive the marked car to a dropoff point and collect cash for it.

The final side mission is just your basic racer… with guns.

All in all, this game seems really good.   It seems like it’s a cross between GTA, Burnout Paradise, and all the car chase scenes in the Bourne movies which in my opinion seems kind of delicious.  The only thing that bothered me about the demo that would make me hesitant to purchase the full game is the lack of a foot mission.  One of the major bullet points of this game was that you were able to actually get out of your car and run around doing some foot missions.  From the small amount of time I was able to walk around, it seemed to control fine and felt even more like GTA.

There’s something to be said about games like Wheelman and 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.  They don’t take themselves entirely too serious and promise just a lot of fun with good controls.

It seems almost as if the titles with low expectations in 2009 are bringing in unexpected high payoffs of fun.

5 responses to “First Impressions: Wheelman Demo Review

  1. So first the 50 cent game is good and now THIS is? What the hell is going on. This is blasphemy I tell you. BLASPHEMY.

  2. I’m just glad we have a ‘vin diesel’ tag on our site now.

    I downloaded this last night, and this write-up has me itching to check it out.

  3. Just played this game an am heavily dissapointed, crappy graphics totally unrealistic, cant customize controls to my liking which is the worst of the worst. I was hyped for this game and am left shaking my head. Totally bogus car control does not feel right at all unless you are used to playing mario kart. GTA blows the doors off this kiddie game. But if you are into simple mindless games this one is for you.

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