Browsing through the Xbox Marketplace, looking for content, blah blah blah I downloaded the demos for The Wheelman and Assault on Dark Athena. I had also downloaded the Watchmen demo, and I played them in the order that I thought I would like them, and ascending order: Wheelman, Athena, and Watchmen. Turns out, I like them in the opposite order.
I went in to The Wheelman with a sense of ironic interest. I was supposed to like it because it was awesomely bad, but after playing for a while it I actually came to like it, and that is not meant as a condescending comment along the lines of “I say, good chap, what was once rubbish is now glorious in my eyes!” I seriously like them game. Mapping the ability to crash into other cars to the flick of the right analog stick was certifiably brilliant. The fact that it’s so easy to just crash into another car is something that’s missing from other driving games, and just feels good. Which is a good thing, because you have do it a lot in the demo.
Aside from all the car-smashing you’ll be doing, there’s other stuff to do as well. You have what is essentially a special meter, and when it’s full to certain point you preform special move, such as slowing down time to shoot at cars and spinning your vehicle (sometimes both at the same time!). There’s also the obligatory boosting (with fire!), but when you’re smashing into other cars and shooting dudes in slow-mo, boosting seems somewhat tame by comparison.
I like what The Wheelman had to offer the driving genre (a mix between Burnout and PGR), and with that and the Dark Athena on the horizon, are we at the point where celebrities care about games enough to make good ones consistently? Or is Vin Diesel simply a super-muscular version of Wil Wheaton? Time will tell.