Wheelman is a ridiculous spectacle that never fails to capture the feel of a Vin Diesel blockbuster.

I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of Vin Diesel. My favorites of his roles include him getting sniped in Saving Private Ryan, and playing a big dumb robot in Iron Giant. Still, I do have a soft spot for the absurd stunts in xXx and The Fast and the Furious; Wheelman perfectly imbues the feel of those two movies. It's as if Dominic Toretto and Xander Cage made sweet sweet love, and the resulting bastard man-child not only inherited their "extreme" attitudes, but also looked exactly like them (at least in polygonal form).

In Wheelman, you take control of Milo Burik (obviously modeled after, and portrayed by, Diesel). Milo has recently arrived in Barcelona seeking information, and in the process becomes entangled in a city-wide gang war. Milo refers to himself as a "wheelman," an expert driver who can do the impossible. While in a car, Milo can perform some fantastic moves, such as the Airjack or the Vehicle Attack. For the former, our protagonist leaps from his moving vehicle to propel himself hundreds of feet, lands inside an enemy car, and then takes control without losing momentum. The latter is where, with a simple flick of the right analog stick, Milo smashes his car into the enemy. To further the gratuitousness, kills made with this move will also slow down time, highlighting every flying body and piece of explosive carnage.

Wheelman rewards your propensity for destruction with more gameplay mechanics. As Milo speeds up and causes mayhem, he steadily gains Focus. With a full Focus meter, the player can then take advantage of special moves. The most basic one is a quick burst of speed -- however, there are also attack skills, such as Aim Shot and Cyclone. When using both of these moves, time briefly slows down, the camera zooms in over Milo's shoulder, and the windshield turns into a shooting gallery -- with the cars becoming ducks with bull's-eyes painted on them. Shooting these bull's-eyes (which typically indicate weak spots such as the engine) usually results in the enemy vehicle instantly disintegrating from a single bullet.

Unfortunately, even these amazing tricks aren't enough to boost the game's tedious mission-based system. As a wheelman, Milo must perform odd jobs ranging from escorting VIPs to killing thugs and smashing property. The missions start piss-poor easy (it's near-impossible to fail them without trying), but then they suddenly spike to feeling needlessly-difficult. One particular annoying mission involves saving a thug, Miguel, who had the misfortune of having a bomb strapped to his body.

The original goal is to play hide-and-seek with the cops -- taking back roads and keeping out of the authorities' view -- until Miguel wakes from his daze. As soon as you clear the police's patrol zone, the gangster wakes up and the bomb starts ticking. Your job then has you rush him to a bomb expert on the double. Here's where it gets more annoying: unfortunately, the location never actually appears on your map; instead you have to wait for audio queues from Miguel himself. To make matters worse, Miguel often forgets where to go, and babbles about other subjects instead, all while an invisible clock ticks down towards mission failure. I'd fail the mission a number of times due to things such as missing one turn, going too slowly, or getting caught slightly within the cops' peripheral vision.

Other minor problems include absurd physics goofs. How is it that I can plow through stone walls and turn trees into Snickers bars, but can be helplessly stuck on a cardboard box? "Dead" enemies also occasionally glitch back onto their feet and briskly walk away from their demise. Yet despite these technical flaws, Wheelman's amazing fun comes from exploring the open world of Barcelona, driving to strange locations, and causing chaos in the city. It easily invokes feelings of Burnout Paradise with elements of Grand Theft Auto thrown in to boot.

If you're looking for just having some dumb fun driving in a big sprawling city, smashing and shooting every last thing in your way, then Wheelman is a great pick. However, it never even attempts to reinvent the wheel from any other free-roaming action-adventure. Then again, you could say that is a pretty accurate portrayal of Vin Diesel's movie career.

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