Wheels of Destruction doesn’t hide its influences well. A glance at a screenshot can easily draw comparisons to the more popular Twisted Metal games which could be enough for potential buyers to dismiss the game entirely. While that’s not a good reason to completely ignore the game, Wheels of Destruction doesn’t exactly make you think otherwise.
Here’s what we liked:
The vehicles – Wheels of Destruction features five different vehicles to choose from, all of which have their own stats. All of them handle differently and are better suited for specific roles during a match. The Heavy, for instance, is a tank that can withstand anything short of a nuclear strike, making it an ideal guard for Capture the Flag matches. On the other hand, the smaller vehicles like the Scout can blaze through an area, a perfect candidate to snatch said flag. Players can also change vehicles after being on the receiving end of a missile barrage. Additionally, respawning is relatively short, allowing players to not only change the pace of their game, but also adjust their strategies quickly.
Here’s what we didn’t like:
No tutorial – The game doesn’t have a steep learning curve, though a quick in-game tutorial would have been helpful in explaining certain features. Driving, shooting, and drifting are all basic – jumping and acrobatics are not. The developer could have done a better job of walking players through those two mechanics because the hint section isn’t exactly helpful, especially when it’s tucked away in the area where you typically find the options menu.
The Controls – The default control scheme is uncomfortable. WoD doesn’t offer controller customization, but at least there’s an alternate control scheme that’s much better on the hands. Still, it’s not without its flaws. Steering and aiming is designated to the same analog stick which makes for some spotty driving, a problem that becomes bigger when navigating through tight spaces. Jumping and acrobatics are also wonky. The game’s hint section points out that pulling off a 360° flip in mid-air partially restores the shield meter, except the game doesn’t always register the flip.
Online is deserted – While there’s really no trouble finding a match over PSN, the game just doesn’t have nearly enough people on it. What makes this worse is that the levels are also too big. So, even in semi-populated rooms, there’s not a lot of action happening on screen, something you’d think a game called Wheels of Destruction would have no problem delivering on.
Lack of a single-player mode - Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Capture the Flag are all readily available from the get-go. And that’s it. No single-player mode to be found. It’s not like it would have the most replay value, but when the game offers so little in the online front, a single-player mode would have been nice to fall back on. Then again…
The AI is bad – Bots can fill in the slots in both offline and online modes that would otherwise have been occupied by actual people. However, that does not make up for the fact that this game is both not popular and boring. Bots are constantly running into walls and other vehicles. A four-car pile up would not be a rare sight or a vehicle moving at a Razor scooter’s pace. Adjusting the bots’ skill levels is also not an option so you’re stuck with incompetent teammates and opponents.
Wheels of Destruction is a huge letdown. The premise may be treading very familiar territory — and that’s not what’s wrong with the game — but Wheels of Destruction just doesn’t deliver a compelling car-exploding experience that’s expected from the genre. Neither offline or online play is particularly engaging or fun. And that doesn’t only fall on the game’s lack of popularity either. The five levels available from the start are dull-looking, big, and hard to navigate through at times. Add to that, gameplay mechanics that work some of the time and are not properly explained. With so much working against Wheels of Destruction, it’s obvious that you should just avoid this game.
Score: Skip It
Wheels of Destruction was developed and published by Gelid Games. A copy was provided for review purposes.