Reviews// Wheelman

'Milo Burik'. Now repeat after me - 'Niko Bellic'.

Posted 26 Mar 2009 09:06 by
Games: Wheelman
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).

Then I 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.
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Games: Wheelman

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DoctorDee 26 Mar 2009 17:16
Having played a little of this wallowing parody, I have to say that I think you have been more than extremely generous with that score.

The city is dull at ditch-water, managing to look OK while having shockingly little with which you can interact. The cars hadle like a 2001 Chrysler Sebring. And when it comes to car criticism, that's about as bad as I can get.

Spinface 3 Apr 2009 14:43
I went to Barcelona last year. I interacted with a whole bunch of things (ice cream, beer, a bunch of people dressed up like Lord of the Rings outcasts) It was nice. I didn't get to drive any cars right fast and shoot folk up, though. In Wheelman I did. It would have been nice to eat ice cream and frolic with folk in LOTR gear, but I was more interested in driving things and shooting stuff. The world wasn't that interactive, but I can live with that.

Sure, it was insanely derivative, but it's fun, so who gives a toss?

I never drove a 2001 Chrysler Sebring.
Joji 5 Apr 2009 13:43
I done a Love Film/Net Flix rent on Wheelman. It looked good and could have been if in better hands like Criterion, but it turned out very average with one or two good ideas. That and the fact I'm tired of seeing Vin Diesls's mug and husky voice in my games.

Riddick yes, but beyond that, no thanks Mr Diesel.
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