There May Be hope for us yet. Vin Diesel, officially the burliest man in Hollywood, is a bona fide gaming nerd. The gravel-mouthed beefcake shamelessly admits he is a videogame fanatic and has been playing them his whole life. Between crushing melons in his pecs and shooting lightning from his abs, he even manages to find the time to foster a World of Warcraft addiction. This appreciation of the medium almost makes it surprising that his latest movie/videogame tie-in is so woefully crap.
Given that this is a shameless attempt at emulating the open-world of Grand Theft Auto IV it does nothing that made Rockstar's title so enjoyable. The incredible attention to detail and engaging story that made you feel so connected to GTA's Liberty City is entirely absent in Wheelman's Barcelona. Every street and every pedestrian (none of which you can wantonly kill - for shame Mr Diesel) look near identical, and there are only a handful of different cars available to drive.
Originally a Vin Diesel movie tie-in, Wheelman is understandably going for a more cinematic action experience than Rockstar's hit, and there are times when the game's over-the-top silver screen nonsense starts to become enjoyable. Physically impossible, but surprisingly satisfying, abilities like the cyclone (spinning the car 180° so you can shoot the enemies behind you in slow motion) can make you feel suitably badass. The laughable AI, however, is so beset with such inane levels of abject cretinism that the enjoyment you get from pulling off these moves is shortlived. It's possible, for example, to go on a quasi-killing spree (remember you can't actually kill anyone you want), get as many police cars chasing you as possible and then just drive round and round in a fairly small circle, with the authorities seemingly incapable of doing anything to stop you.
When you get out of the car, things get a whole lot worse. Ignoring the lack of a jump button or cover system (automatic or manual), aiming at enemies is unresponsive and wobbly, making it difficult to shoot even the explosive barrels that most of your enemies decide to huddle round in nearly every fire fight.
That a big-name star who's so passionate about gaming has put his name to such a poor title is a shame, especially since The Chronicles of Riddick games were such a resounding success. This formula of cheesy dialogue, tenuous plot and gratuitous explosions was enough to see the Wheelman movie canned - perhaps the game should've followed suit.
Download The Wheelman
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP