Wheelman Review for PS3

On: PS3Xbox 360PC

Starring Vin Diesel as the Wheelman, you're on the run from the mafia in the U.S. and returning to Barcelona, a place where you have a dark past and criminal gangs infest the city.

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8Out of 10
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This sums up Wheelman quite perfectly
This sums up Wheelman quite perfectly

This sums up Wheelman quite perfectly

Given Midway's heavily publicised financial problems and Wheelman's late shift to publisher Ubisoft, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is a game to avoid. We certainly had our reservations, assuming it would be a mildly entertaining action romp that sat somewhere between Driv3r and GTA 4 - we didn't expect it to sit so close to GTA 4 in the enjoyment stakes. You'd be hard pushed to find anyone naming this as game of the year come December, but Midway Newcastle has succeeded in making a damn fun game with some of the best driving mechanics we've ever seen.

By far the biggest initial draw Wheelman's going to have is its star, action hero and all round hard man Vin Diesel. He plays Milo, an undercover agent sent to Barcelona to work as a wheelman for hire in an attempt to get info on various crime organisations working in the city. You'll take jobs from anyone, so it's an ideal ruse to get close to the people that matter, assuming you're good enough at your job. While Wheelman tries to tell a decent story it struggles to be more than a platform for Milo's existence and really only serves to bookend the missions and to give some kind of structure to proceedings. GTA 4 this is not, but then it's not really trying to be.

Core to everything that's good in Wheelman is, perhaps predictably, the driving. Midway Newcastle has ditched any notion of realism in favour of a full-on arcade-style handling model. Milo is able to powerslide any car, pull off insane handbrake turns and generally nip about at speed without needing to worry too much about real-world physics getting in the way. It's not quite Crazy Taxi, but there's certainly a similar feel and general belief that you can do just about anything while on two or four wheels.

Because Wheelman isn't your normal open-world action game, with most of your time spent in a car or on a bike, combat had to be possible while driving. At its most basic you can auto target enemy vehicles and fire at them with a gun (the steadier you drive the easier targeting is, and it helps to get Milo firing out of his near window), but the really good stuff comes from vehicle melee and a number of special moves activated once you've filled your Focus Gauge by driving like a nutcase.

The in-car combat is brilliant fun

The in-car combat is brilliant fun

First of all you need to get into a car or on a bike. The normal way is to walk up to some unsuspecting guy in the street and jack him, and that's possible here, but a bit dull. Milo prefers to do things while on the move (a wheelman can't waste time), so he likes to open his car door and leap onto a vehicle ahead. By driving your vehicle in close proximity to the rear of another car and holding down the leap button, Milo gets into position (crash or take a sharp corner and he'll get back in the car, so careful driving is key) and a coloured arrow appears above your target vehicle. As soon as it turns green you let go and he leaps onto the rooftop of the new vehicle, slides through the window, kicks out the driver and continues on his merry way. Very cool indeed.

No matter what vehicle you're in (hatchback, sports car, truck, motorbike, etc) a simple flick of the right analogue stick to the left, right or straight ahead will cause it to violently jolt in that direction, slamming whatever gets in its way. Think of the takedowns in Burnout, only with more aggression. The vehicle you're in obviously plays a big part in what you can do, so you're not going to be doing too many slams while riding a bike, but get behind the wheel of an articulated truck and there'll be plenty of exploding enemy vehicles before too long.

This is just one part of the many combat options in Wheelman. By using up the energy in your focus gauge Milo can slow down time and take aim, while still driving. Pressing up on the d-pad will initiate an Aimed Shot, allowing him to target whatever's ahead or viewable from the side windows, whereas pressing down will result in a Cyclone shot, causing the vehicle to spin 180 degrees and giving you a shot at what's coming from the rear. Weak points on enemy vehicles are highlighted, giving you the chance to blow them up in typical Hollywood movie fashion. You'll never tire of pulling off the moves - our favourite is to do a 180 degree spin while heading off a jump, resulting in a slow motion shootout while driving backwards in mid-air.

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User Comments

Rickitis's Avatar


Ended up with a 66% score on PS3 and 64% score on Xbox 360 on Metacritic. Certainly reviewed too highly on this site.
Posted 12:39 on 03 February 2010
Rickitis's Avatar

Rickitis@ TomO

I completely agree, I just meant it’s a game where some may love it and others may think it’s a bit too arcadey. It’s certainly a game where you are better off playing the demo to see if it’s your kind of game before deciding whether to buy.
Posted 18:42 on 03 April 2009
CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee@ rico_rico

I don't agree, rico. Greatness can indeed focus on one aspect. Earth Defense Force 2017 has laughable graphics, negligible story, and zero variety, but remains the most fun I have had on my 360. What it does is let me shoot hundreds of enemies, and makes no apologies for only offering that! In a similar way, I expect to have nothing but fun from Wheelman. The IGN review in particular seems to have completely missed the point, wishing for more plot.

All that being said, if on-foot combat is poor then it would behoove the developers to not make us endure as much of it as it sounds like we have to. Taking into account the review from eurogamer, whom I trust, as well as vg.com, whom I also trust, I think I will stick with my plans to rent that I have had ever since the demo pleasantly surprised me. (I do not trust IGN, the oft-quoted "You can't spell ignorant without I-G-N" exists for a reason.)
Posted 14:33 on 27 March 2009
rico_rico's Avatar


Tom Orry say: On-foot combat isn't so great, but it's not the game's focus. if the developer wont this game to be great they need to focus on all thing.
Posted 12:28 on 27 March 2009
El-Dev's Avatar


Eurogamer gave this a 5/10, was someone promised a role as "Dead Guy 17" in vin Diesels next movie?

Posted 10:41 on 26 March 2009
Wido's Avatar


Yes I was about to say its nothing like Saints Row, whoever said it needs a reality check there ;)

Indeed, tis a interesting review. Fair score to be honest as the demo didn't impress me set from the in-car action which is superb. The only thing about Wheelman is the in-car action and the ability to nab other cars in motion which is fun stuff.

The side missions seem all repetitve and all the same, so the lasting appeal isn't going to be great for this game. I'm gathering its going to 7 rated scores across the board for Wheelman.
Posted 09:45 on 26 March 2009
Corrupt0Killa-TomBut's Avatar

Corrupt0Killa-TomBut@ thpcplayer

dont this game is awful, everything about it ISNT SAINTS ROW, poorly made game. driving is awful...and i mean awful...just another excuse for vin dieasal to be in a game...that is crap...once again. Just hpe Riddick is better.
Posted 22:42 on 25 March 2009
TomO's Avatar


Everyone can have their own opinion, so the IGN review is fair enough, but I'd be surprised if the average ends up anywhere near that review score. I'd hope metacritic and the like will end up with the game scoring in the low 80s.
Posted 22:32 on 25 March 2009


Interesting review. So, Tom,what are you doing with your review copy now you've fininshed it? :)
Posted 22:26 on 25 March 2009
Rickitis's Avatar


I would think twice about buying this as other sites haven't rated it nearly as highly as this:
Posted 18:32 on 25 March 2009
thpcplayer's Avatar


Wow i was looking forward to it and will get it very soon looks way better than saints 2 though
Posted 17:15 on 25 March 2009

Game Stats

Out of 10
  • Loads of things to do
  • Looks pretty great
  • Brilliant in-car action
  • On-foot combat isn't great
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 27/03/2009
Platforms: PS3 , Xbox 360 , PC
Developer: Midway
Publisher: Midway
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 15
Site Rank: 19,229 31
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