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PC, Playstation 3, XBox 360

Reviewed on: PC

Publisher: Ubisoft/Midway
Rated: "T" for Teen

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

Games are becoming more cinematic with each generation. With sweeping scores, engaging stories and production values (not to mention budgets) through the roof – the art of the video game medium is beginning to rival even Hollywood’s biggest features.

Then there’s Wheelman. Oh it’s Cinematic – but in a Michael Bay Summer blockbuster; “let’s blow some stuff up…because we can” kind of way.  There’s fun to be had in Wheelman, and you’ll enjoy it as long as you’re not looking for any kind of depth, story or substance at all.

In Wheelman you play Milo, an American driver sent on an undercover mission to Barcelona to take out a number of gangs – at least I think so.  The game never really takes the time to flesh out the story, and the truth is, it doesn’t matter. There’s something in there about Milo coming out of retirement to protect a woman from his past, and something about Milo working for the CIA…which apparently has business in Barcelona. You never really get the details of why you’re doing what you’re doing – you’re just there.

"...almost forces those interested in the film to give the game a chance."


Of course, Milo is no normal retired-undercover-driver guy; he’s Vin Diesel.  Though it’s technically a licensed game, The Wheelman works a bit differently. The game will serve as a precursor to the film adaptation; currently in production at Paramount. The tactic is new, and almost forces those interested in the film to give the game a chance, thus opening it up to a whole new audience -- though when you come to think of it, I doubt The Wheelman’s target audience will need to be persuaded to play video games.

What The Wheelman does do right is creating that edge of your seat action movie experience.  The game’s car combat is actually quite satisfying – mainly because it’s unlike anything else available. Unlike other vehicular combat titles, The Wheelman places the emphasis on the car you’re driving, almost making it a character in its own right. The system works quite well on consoles, with everything mapped to a control stick (much like the control scheme for EA’s NHL series) movement feels fluid and responsive.  Tilt the stick up to crash through barricades, or to the side to cause your car to swerve out of the way or ram another car.

Successfully completing missions or driving dangerously will result in being able to pull off one of a number of special moves. I’m going to be honest – as ridiculous and some of these moves are (jumping from one car to another for instance), they look pretty damn cool.  When initiating one of these abilities, more often than not time will slow down and you’ll get roughly ten seconds to time your attack. We’ve all seen the slow down effect used before, but there’s something different about it here. Amid all the chaos and gun fire, the silence somehow manages to add even more tension to the experience. The moves are powerful, but they get repetitive quite quick, which is sad as they’re one of the few features that set it apart from other similar games.

Sadly, it’s not long before The Wheelman shows just how flawed of a title it is. For starters, shooting while in a car is utterly terrible.  You can’t really aim, you just lock on to whatever target is closest to you; and apparently you’re a terrible shot as it literally takes an excruciating amount of time to off even one baddie.  The on-foot game is even worse as running feels sluggish and there’s no cover system to speak of. Oh, and Midway, there’s this new innovation in gaming; it’s called a jump button – look in to it.

"It doesn’t help that the game’s AI is amazingly stupid."


The campaign in The Wheelman should last roughly 6-8 hours, which is quite a long time considering just how repetive the game can get. Most missions are of the expected drive, destroy and kill missions we’ve come to expect from these types of games, but more often than not you’ll find yourself fighting wave after wave of identical enemies. Defeat all of the enemies in range? Move five feet and defeat another wave. It doesn’t help that the game’s AI is amazingly stupid. Try not to laugh as gang members jump in front of your car, or position themselves near explosive barrels during gun fights.

Wheelman’s true failure is in its design. Meant to play as a GTA style sandbox game, Wheelman does its best to create the illusion of an open world, but it’s an illusion that’s quickly ruined by hackneyed gameplay choices and shortcuts.  Nearly every street and every pathway in The Wheelman looks exactly the same, meaning you lose that amazing feeling of exploring and finding that pathway you didn’t know about before. The game takes so many unneeded shortcuts; you can’t help but feel cheated. See a car you want to steal? Just hit the button and you’re sure to get it, no matter how fast it’s going as cars literally stop in the middle of the street, seemingly asking to be carjacked.

On a visual level, Wheelman’s colors pop and the environments look pretty cool when they’re destroyed – most of the time. During some of the busier missions, the frame rate drops dramatically, and you get to see just how bad a game can look. Sadly, the developers took shortcuts with the game’s visuals as well, as there’s a fairly large amount of clipping and awkward looking polygons.

If the developers at Midway took the time to create a title based more on The Wheelman’s unique driving mechanics rather than merely copying what came before it – I could almost recommend it. Sadly though, it’s a mess of a game that thanks to uneven gameplay, horrid AI and one of the worst open world experiences we’ve seen to date – The Wheelman is bound to be nothing but another forgotten GTA clone.  



CHEATS USED: No Police, No Vehicle Damage, Remove Wanted Level, Carnage Mode

It’s best to think of The Wheelman as a bastardized mix of Grand theft Auto, Burnout and Dead 2 Rights.  Half the fun is leading police on a chase throughout Barcelona, and causing as much damage as possible to your surroundings and yourself as possible.  In this case, cheats like no police and no vehicle damage seemingly take away from the experience. Sure, it makes some of the missions easier – but what’s the fun in that? The vehicle damage system in The Wheelman is actually quite cool, why ignore it?

That’s not to say then that the cheat to reset your wanted level isn’t needed. Much like the Grand Theft Auto series, the boys in blue just don’t know when to quit, and when you’re finished having your fun – having this cheat lets them know to back off, and gives you freedom to enjoy some of the game’s other content. Or you know...just get in trouble again. Also like GTA this cheat can’t be used while you’re being chased, so it’s kind of limited.

Wheelman is an action movie in the form of a video game – why not turn it up a bit more? Carnage mode is undoubtedly the coolest cheat in the trainer. Basically, things smash easier, and one shot will destroy most vehicles or people. Carnage mode works perfectly with the super health cheat. Just saying...


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