So…the first thing I'm going to say regarding the Wheelman is that it's a lot of fun, the second thing I'm going to say about the Wheelman is that it's also not Grand Theft Auto IV and it's not trying to be GTA. Open world games began well before Rockstar managed to corner the market and push out a highly successful franchise. It will draw GTA comparisons regardless, just not from me.Story
You are undercover agent Milo Burik, recently flown in to Barcelona (from Miami supposedly) and you're masquerading as a wheelman, a driver for hire that's pretty much just like Frank Martin (the Transporter). You're employed by a shady government agency to do some work for them and they want you to get in with the various factions, do some deals, a lot of driving and shake things up. I've been deliberately vague about the 15 hour or so story that's in the game, since it's something I don't want to spoil.Gameplay
Wheelman is an open-world game and its best described as a joyful over the top mix of the Transporter meets Burnout meets Pursuit Force with Hollywood action movie thrown in. Right from the start you can see that the emphasis has been placed upon arcade quality driving and if you're a fan of realistic physics then you're going to be highly disappointed, just like if you think that people fly back twenty feet when shot by a gun, or cars explode at the drop of a hat if they crash.
This is Hollywood style action and physics with an action movie feel. To this end the team has concentrated solely on making sure that the driving and on foot part of the game is as honed as it can be. The first time the game starts up, it opens with a hectic escape from a bank robbery and you're thrown right into the thick of it with a frenetic car chase against a veritable army of cops.
The car handling is excellent, it reminds me of Burnout and I absolutely loved the arcade feel of that game all the way up to the current Burnout Paradise incarnation. There are numerous tweaks to GTA style driving that make Wheelman much more rewarding as the cars skid and slide with a perfect balance between handling and outright fun. Taking a corner with a dramatic slide, smashing through obstacles and driving like a maniac all adds to your Focus Gauge and we'll talk more about this in a moment.
Wheelman puts you in the action, it gives you control and heightens the dramatic tension of the various chases by a pretty solid in-game camera. You can enable or disable the action-cuts that show the various high-speed driving moves as you ram through a road block or drive your vehicle up a ramp/stairs sailing into the air in beautiful slow motion.
The game models all the shunts and slams of a Hollywood car chase and it brings to the table several Gameplay elements that are worth discussing in their own right.
The game has also got a good solid save/checkpoint system that makes sure you don't have to repeat a section by driving to it again. You can also use the map to instantly get to any mission or side mission rather than navigating the city.Vehicle Melee
With a quick flick of the right stick left, right or front when in a vehicle Milo slams the car in either direction and collides with enemy vehicles. This causes a great deal of damage to your opponents and can sometimes wreck weaker vehicles in one cinematic hit. The camera quickly cutting to show the spinning and exploding wreck dancing off into the distance, then cutting back to allow you control of your vehicle again.