Great Balls of Fire! – Wheels of Destruction: World Tour Review

Our Rating
out of 5.0

This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.

When you think of car combat, one game comes to mind: Twisted Metal.  However, the folks at Gelid are trying to change that with their newest release, Wheels of Destruction.  Coming exclusively to the PlayStation Network, Wheels of Destruction is hoping to bring car carnage to another level of chaos.  Does it bring reckless mayhem to your console or leave the arena with a flat tire and a blown engine?

Wheels of Destruction is a class-based car combat game that feels like a mix between Unreal Tournament and Twisted Metal with a deep arcade feel.  Set in a post-apocalyptic era where it’s kill or be killed, players must use power-ups and strategically maneuver through each map to out-gun and outpace your opponent.  It’s all completely score-based with no storyline to tie anything together, designed to be an arcade car combat game for only $9.99 on the PSN.

Wheels of Destruction limits what could be an explosive online competition and comes up short.  There are three different game modes available to show off your car combat skills: Capture the Flag, Free-for-All, and Team Deathmatch.  These are your typical modes when it comes to any arena-based shooter and while fun, they aren’t enough.   Any of these modes can be played online or offline with AI-controlled bots.

One important feature absent is split-screen gameplay. The days of split-screen are slowly drifting away in this industry, but a car combat game is perfect for destroying your buddies. The offline game with bots just does not cut it; while the AI is brawny and will teach you a lesson or two in how to dismantle a vehicle, the tediousness sets in fast.

Wheels of Destruction was designed on the ever-popular Unreal Engine and it shows.  The game runs really smooth with next to nothing in slowdown, even when the battles become quite hectic.  The five maps based on real-world locations are either of a floating city design or enclosed arena.  Unfortunately, even with the five different locations there isn’t much in the way of visuals; there is a lot of brown.  While a post-apocalyptic backdrop will be war-torn with shrapnel and concrete, the lack of imagination of what potentially could have included props, greenery, etc., is disheartening.

The existing maps lack personality like their real-life counterparts: There might be a landmark or design similar to the city, but take it away and you have any ol’ map that could be found in a generic shooter.  I will give Gelid Games props for creating a well-balanced design in maps, though.  I never felt like there was a spot that was at a disadvantage, and portals are abound to throw you right in the middle of the action if you’ve gone astray.

The sounds and music of WoD are your standard fare of bland rock music in-game, and the explosions don’t calculate to what you see on the screen.  As your car begins to take damage and fall apart – or worse, blow up – the quality in the sound effects suffer from basic sound bites and leave you wanting more.  Luckily, Gelid Games allows for background music so you can set the mood yourself with your personalized soundtrack while taking over the car combat arena.

Five different classes populate the game with distinct advantages and disadvantages to each.  The Soldier is the well-balanced, all-around vehicle with stats straight down the middle in the way of speed, armor, damage, etc.  The Assassin is a sharpshooter with poorer health than average, but it can pack a mighty blow if direct hits are landed with its wicked quick firing rate.  Playing as the Scout offers nimble car combat, making it ideal for capturing the flag in a CTF round.

If you love a vehicle that can take a pounding, then the Heavy is your class. Offering an extremely high health gauge, this is the ultimate tank.  Last (and my personal favorite) is the Engineer.  It’s in a level higher than the other combatants as you have radar detection, which will always give you an advantage.  Each of these classes offer something different and Gelid Games really balanced the combat out between them.  However, just like the environments, these cars all look very similar in design other than their overall size and scale.  None stick out with different color schemes or any unique drivers, which would add some personality to the classes.

Unfortunately, the weapons offered in Wheels of Destruction are also a huge disappointment: You can count them all on one hand.  With only four different weapons to scoop up along the maps, you’ll feel there could have been many more to help offer the true nature of a combat scene.  None of the classes have a specific special attack to sway the direction of the battle either.

However, Gelid Games did attempt to mix things up, as the four weapons offer secondary fire to surprise the adversaries heading your way: The gatling gun has a powerful shotgun blast for close-range attacks, whereas the rockets offer a mortar attack for foes from afar.  The flamethrower, aside from setting one enemy on fire, has a fire ring option to put everyone within a set radius in their place.  Last but not least is the rail gun, offering a strong one-shot from afar; Its alternative – the BFG – can take out four to five enemies.  These were all fun to experiment with, but again, the large contribution of bullet sprays of post-apocalyptic proportions just isn’t enough.

With Wheels of Destruction offering gameplay elements found in both the racing and shooter genres, the controls are of the utmost importance.  Unfortunately, Gelid Games, while with good intentions to offer quick gameplay, falls short on so many levels.  The game uses only one analog stick: You have to be able to steer and control the camera with the left analog stick, and the right stick is useless in the heat of the battle.  With a game that requires quick and daring dodges and gunnery, this is just unacceptable, especially in this day and age of gaming.

Players will also have trouble trying to drive and shoot at the same time, as the standard controls often require you to use the R1, R2, L1, and L2 buttons at the same time. For players who only rest one finger one the shoulder buttons at a time, this will be a difficult feat. It’s completely awkward trying to use the controls and downright frustrating getting stuck along a wall and having an enemy swoop in for an easy kill.

Although there are two other control options offered, they are just as impossible to use.  For example, one control scheme has you shooting with R1 while driving with R2.  While this may work for some people, may players will find this to be cumbersome, as the battle on-screen is already hectic.  Dealing with another war with your controls takes away from the fun.  Although the control schemes are something that could be fixed down the line with an update, this really hurts the overall experience.

Wheels of Destruction has a lot of potential, and at its price it’s fair to say you will suck some time into it to get your money’s worth – if you can prevail over its many flaws.  However, if you have no intentions of jumping onto PSN for this game, I would avoid it completely.  In the end, if you cannot easily adjust to limited controls or want something with more meat to it, you’ll want to look elsewhere for your car combat needs. gives Wheels of Destruction a 3.5/5.0

Our Rating
out of 5.0

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