Vigilante 8 Review

This metal isn't twisted.


Titles that feature vehicular combat have very quickly become a thing of the past. While the errant Twisted Metal title is released here and there, the genre seems to have died out over the years in favor of more realistic or arcade incarnations. However, Activision (with the help of Isopod Labs) has revived a classic franchise that seemed to have been forgotten over the years on the Xbox Live Arcade.

That title is Vigilante 8. It's available on the Xbox Live Arcade for download, but it's a very barebones port in itself. 

As a spinoff of Interstate '76, Vigilante 8 took what Twisted Metal popularized and improved upon it in many ways. The premise was simple: take control of one of a variety of generic cars, stock up on outlandish weaponry, and doggedly attempt to eliminate the competition. Simply put, it's a demolition derby. You'll crash, bang, and clang into other players in Vigilante 8 the same way you would as combatants in a demolition derby tend to do.

The game presents players with a choice of nine characters (one to be unlocked upon completion of the game), split into the Vigilantes and the Coyotes. Each character is saddled with their own ride, ranging from DeLorean danger mobiles to souped-up station wagons. When a character is selected, the object of the game's "quest mode" is to eliminate all opponents while navigating one of the five arenas available.

Among the arenas available are some typical environments you would expect from such a game, like open farmland, oil fields, and even Hoover Dam. Each contains a fair amount of destructible variants, such as pipes and small buildings. However, causing damage to the area also does damage to your car and driver, so it's good to watch out and keep a steady hand when driving.

While the areas are aesthetically pleasing enough, they do feel a bit bland seeing as they weren't built to grab your attention. The point is, after all, the other drivers and their respective cars.

Of course, those cars would be nothing without the weapons scattered amongst the game's five arenas. Starting off, players are given only a machine gun that can fire off an unlimited amount of shots, but is highly ineffective. Up for grabs in the playable arenas are a variety of destructive tools: missiles, rockets, mortar, mines, and a "special" weapon that differs according to which car you are using. Equipping said weapons is as easy as driving over them. From there, they're ready for use until their ammo supply is exhausted. Rockets and missiles produce satisfying explosions, but never feel that they are truly making a dent in opponents' health gauges. However, routine pick-ups of power-up items and efficient usage of ammo will ensure victory if you can get to an important weapon before an enemy does.

While there's plenty for you to see and do in this remake of Vigilante 8, in the end the original all but leaves it in the dust. You're better served skipping out and picking up something with more meat on it.