The Wheelman was announced back in february 2006, when Midway got the rights for first time. However, the crisis that hit the company and the recent bankrupt delayed the game release not just once. Fortunately, Ubisoft saw the potential and took over.
After lots of hours spent in driving in the streets of Barcelona, we can say that Wheelman is the next game developed in the optimum middle – lots of effects and dynamics, but nothing different from the other products in the genre. At least I enjoyed the voice of Vin Diesel, which is the main character’s voice.
The Wheelman is actually a third-person action, but you spend most of your time in car chases or gun wars. Sounds familiar? It’s not needed to be that much of a gamer to see the well known recipe of success that Tigon Studio tried to implement – a Grand Theft Auto with Vin Diesel ahead. However, the Wheelman is still good on its own. The story is set in a big city and the moving and poistioning is absolutely free. There are about one hungred additional missions waiting that are out of the main storyline. Everything is slowly revealed – at first you are just a stranger in the big city of Barcelona named Mylo Burrick , agent under cover which mission consist into penetrate the underground life of Barcelona.
The plot is very dynamic because it allows you to do additional missions out of the storyline. Those missions normally consist into delivering and stealing of cars, motocycles and others. If you think you don’t have the time you can simply ignore them – keep in mind that those missions have their own rewards – more money!
The police is also a factor in the game, there are somewhat of chasing and hiding from them. For the purpose the dealers will give you special garages where you can hide and change your vehicle. In general, Barcelona is an interesting place with its own pulse of life – lots of traffic and people doing their stuff, and nearly everything you pass through can be broken.
Enough, now where the cars are?
The answer is everywhere, and your skill with them is a very important factor. It’s interesting to see that, except a few, all the other
brands are imaginary, but they still resemble some real life models. Due to the fact that you are a racer most of the time, you have to know that the cars react differently, not to mention the motorcycles. After you get used to the control system - it’s time for fun!
Our hero uses the car for something more than the ordinary transportation method. In his hands, it’s a deadly weapon - he just needs some well coordinated moves and he can get another car off the road easily. He can also drift, 180s, side smash and others. If you want to learn to do them correctly, you will have to follow the small guiding text that explain what and when to press. Mylo also have something like a special meter seen in other games. You fill it as you drive fast without touching other cars or hitting people. Once you fill it, he gets boosts equal to a nitrous and does maneuvers that he wouldn’t be able to do otherwise.
The coolest move is probably the Air Jack - our hero opens the car’s door, ready to jump, and when the conditions are met - he jumps to the car in front getting the driver out and taking over its control. Very useful and frequently used in chases, car stealing or car changing. I often do it just for the fun of it.
Despite some criticism, The Wheelman is still an interesting game that I recommend to everyone. The game is technically very detailed, the music is very well chosen and coordinated, the gameplay is attractive and can keep your busy for a while.
There is still that problem, however, that the game is nothing different than its ancestors, and it just needed something new and innovative to become a great hit.