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May 13, 2009
Vin Diesel Wheelman - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
26/3/2009UbisoftMidwayTigon /
Midway Newcastle
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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Vin Diesel is accurately modeled for Wheelman.
Grand Theft Auto IV is a landmark title, and it would be easy to suggest at first glance that Midway has tried to emulate that game here. That is not the case. While Rockstar's title is still orientated towards on-foot action with some driving thrown in to get from location to location, Vin Diesel Wheelman in focused the other way around - this is mostly about the driving with some on-foot sections thrown in for good measure. As we all know Midway are in the midst of a financial crisis, but fortunately this game was pretty much complete before that hit, although Ubisoft has stepped in to assist with the games distribution.

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Getting some major air with the truck.
Vin Diesel stars as undercover agent and highly skilled driver Milo Burik who must infiltrate the Barcelona underworld to gather intelligence surrounding a covert heist. Posing as a driver-for-hire, he ends up caught in a crossfire of corruption and chaos while trying to stay one step ahead of local law enforcement and rival gangs.

As we have already mentioned Vin Diesel Wheelman is all about the car (or motorbike) chases and action sequences. During the game you can choose your own route through the streets, or parkways, or footpaths, of Barcelona as you complete more than 30 missions and around 100 side-missions. While the main missions follow a moderately linear story (you often have a choice between a couple of missions) the side missions can be done in or out of sequence with several of these opening up with the completion of each main mission. If you want to take some time out you can simply drive around the city and take in the breathtaking Spanish architecture.

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Vin Diesel jumps over the vehicle.
So the key component is the driving and there are a wide range of vehicles on offer from large trucks, to the super light and fast motorbikes. Driving around the city is tremendous fun and you can just see why Paramount has announced a movie based on this game will go ahead - the potential for stunning car chase sequences is more then evident. There are a couple of unique features while driving though. It is possible to swerve your car left, right or forward by pressing the right analogue stick and by doing so hopefully damage or destroy enemy vehicles. Should they be destroyed you'll see a cool slow-mo Burnout styled crash replay. Very cool. Be careful though as the enemies can certainly do the same back to you.

Another of the unique abilities in Wheelman is that of the 'airjack'. As you're travelling along you can hold the circle button when behind another vehicle to see your character climb out of your current vehicle and jump across to the other vehicle to take control. The final of the three cool moves in this game is the '360 Cyclone Spin'. This move sees you character spin around 180 in the car to target enemies with your gun in a slow-mo mode. You can also do this while remaining forward. You ability to use this movie is also limited according to the risks you take while driving (which works similar to the nitro gauge in Burnout). It is very entertaining, no doubt about it.

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Expect Wheelman to be action packed.
Finally we come to the third person on-foot sections. At any time it is possible to jump out of the car and run around Barcelona. This can also be done during missions, and indeed some missions require you to enter third person action sections. The third person action sequences are good enough, but nothing to get too excited about as we've seen it all before.

The one main issue I have with Vin Diesel Wheelman in terms of gameplay is actually the storyline. Now don't get me wrong, the cut scenes are for the most part quite superb. Indeed even working for multiple gangs is fine. The issue arises when the gangs pretty much forgive you immediately for doing something against them simply by giving you another mission. It all seems quite unbelievable. Seriously, if someone busted into your warehouse, shot up a couple of dozen of your henchmen and nicked your gear for a rival gang would you be keen to offer them some more work? I think not...

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Shooting at the enemies from a vehicle.
In terms of actual gameplay it does take a little while to get use to the car handling. They sort of feel a little loose at times, but you do get used to it. The vehicles handle differently - trucks are slow but extremely strong taking an absolute beating before falling apart, motorbikes are blindingly fast but easily destroyed while cars offer a bit of both - although different models have different attributes as well. We would have liked to see a little more work go into reducing the load times in the game as, and despite an install to the Hard Drive, they do become annoying.

Finally the game isn't overly long with the main story mission being completed in under 10 hours. When you consider there is no online multi-player that means there isn't a lot of value in this game. Having said that there are some positives here. The number of side missions is impressive and while they do become repetitive there are a few different types, and plenty of trophies to unlock as a result.

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The PS3 version of Wheelman looks impressive.
Looking at the surrounding screens you have probably already determined that this isn't the best looking PS3 game - far from it in fact. Powered by the Unreal graphics engine, and Havok physics engine this there are some very rough edges on the buildings and objects in the game world and without full screen anti-aliasing it doesn't look too crash hot. Still the game holds up a decent frame rate which only dips occasionally but always manages to keep the game moving at a smooth enough pace. The cut-scenes, fortunately, are quite a bit better with some decent direction, and plenty of detail in the dialogue.

Without a doubt the highlight in the audio department is the voice work by Vin Diesel and the other voice actors. Sure, Vin Diesel doesn't exactly have the most varied of voices, but his gruff, tough sound suits the character perfectly. I was a little annoyed with the non-English voices which required subtitles to be turned on to understand them. Oh and when you talk about polish in a game it would be nice if these subtitles either did, or didn't, include full stops and not change each time.

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Gun battles in Vin Diesel Wheelman on PS3.
Damn I've had a hard time coming up with the score on this game. On so many levels this game is technically a letdown with plenty of jaggies and some screen tearing with occasionally questionable car physics. But Vin Diesel Wheelman is a guilty pleasure. Car combat is handled pretty well with some resemblance to Vin Diesel's latest movie Fast and Furious. With a decent storyline, and despite the issues with gangs forgiving you too quickly, this game is one which fans of Vin Diesel, and driving action games would do well to check out.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSVin Diesel looks great, cut scenes impress, in-game is a bit rough.
SOUNDWheelman has good music and effects, speech highlighed by Diesel.
GAMEPLAYDespite the flaws we had some fun with this game.
VALUEOnly 8 hours to finish the single player missions and no multi-player makes the value here questionable.
OVERALLVin Diesel Wheelman is just like his movies. Big, over the top and requiring better scripts. Like the movies though, despite the flaws this is very entertaining while it lasts.

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