by / April 21st, 2009 /

Wheelman – X360, PS3, PC

You’ve probably already seen the TV ad, starring none other than mono-syllabic action hero Vin Diesel (Wheelman is also a forthcoming movie), and you’ve doubtless already made your mind up that Wheelman is none other than a Grand Theft Auto clone, replacing the west coast of America with Barcelona. And you’d be right. However, despite its distinct lack of originality, it’s hard to dislike Wheelman thanks to its non-stop OTT action and the fact that try as we might, State finds it impossible to hate Vin Diesel (thanks mainly to the quality of the first Riddick movie, Pitch Black).

Diesel plays Milo Burik, an undercover RAI agent who’s transported to the Catalan city to infiltrate the various criminal gangs vying for control of its streets. He’s in pursuit of a mysterious package, a high grade weapon dubbed a ‘nation breaker’ by his handlers, and posing as the wheelman of the title, a stunt driver par excellence whose speciality is avoiding capture by any means possible, including car-jacking other vehicles while driving at breakneck speed along Barca’s main thoroughfares by leaping from one car to another.

Milo inveigles himself into Barcelona’s criminal elite by virtue of his fearless driving, whether recovering stolen vehicles or terrifying his Mafioso passengers with his stunt-driving, and he can also add to his reputation by engaging in a host of side missions, from taxi runs to full on road-rage rampages, where the idea is to cause as much monetary damage as possible.

OK, so it’s not going to win any awards for innovation, but what Wheelman does, it does extremely well, with superb graphics, top voice-acting and some electric cut-scenes (with one torture scene in particular almost worth shelling out for). The one drawback is that when you’re not behind the wheel, the controls are clunky in the extreme.