This week, I have mostly been playing The Fast and Furious Grand Theft Paradise City
. If you hadn't gathered from my oh-so-clever play on the fact that Wheelman
is an undeniable rip-off (that's 'homage' to the lawyers) of assorted other games and films, Wheelman
is not the name of a new super-hero who rolls around with a unicycle attached to his lower body ala Gizmoduck. Wheelman
is, in fact, a video game that is much like at least a couple of other games you might have played.
It's a game about a chap who makes his way around a city's underworld, mixing with shadowy criminal sorts, driving around real fast and doing odd jobs for them. That chap is Vin Diesel, aka Milo Burik. Say it out loud - 'Milo Burik'. Now repeat after me - 'Niko Bellic'. They're similar, but not quite the same. In this instance, Vin is a bit more manly.
So, I stuck Wheelman
on in the SPOnG Underwater Castle and everyone immediately cried, 'Lawks! It's a total f**king Grand Theft Auto
f**king rip-off!' I let them play it for five minutes and they walked off feeling vindicated (Actually, we'd all played it while Mark was snowboarding in Canada as you'll hear in the forthcoming podcast. Ed)
played it for a few minutes and concluded that they were absolutely right. I played it for a good while longer and realised that, despite the fact it doesn't have an original bone in its body, and despite the fact that it is outdone by GTA IV
, it is fun nonetheless.
Let's start at the beginning. Things kick off with a high speed chase as you help some tasty Spanish lass escape a robbery she's just pulled off. The police are all on your case in their little European police cars; and she's moaning at you because she thinks you're going to kill her. After you don't kill her, you're into the game proper.
So, why were you picking up a young lady who just did a heist (in leather trousers!)? You're a wheelman, see. You go around doing things that involve vehicles for shadowy types, occasionally getting out (or off) of your vehicle to shoot at folk. But there's a twist! I can reveal this to you, because it's spilled within the first ten minutes of sticking the disc in the drive. Vin is, in fact, an undercover agent working to gather intelligence about the underworld! Sneaky! I guess Vin didn't want to play a proper baddie in his video game.
Beyond that, the plot struck me as a bit baffling. Whether that's because it's twisted and genuinely confusing or because I just wasn't interested enough to give it my full attention, I couldn't quite tell you. One way or another, it's forgettable. Wheelman
is not a breakthrough in gaming narrative.
If you've even sniffed GTA
, you know how the formula goes in terms of actually doing stuff. You pick up missions involving different types of vehicles in different situations. You might be doing something as innocuous as driving a gangster-type around, you might be nicking cars to build up trust with a contact, you might be trying to grab someone from an armed police convoy. You also might be called upon to go get out of your vehicle to rescue a member of a crime family or make someone more dead than they currently are.