I never got to play the original Vigilante 8 on the Playstation 1 back in 1998 so I didn’t have the weight of nostalgia on my back when picking up this arcade release to review. I was looking forward to it as I knew a great deal of people hold the game in high regard. After putting a few hours into the game modes available I can safely say that I am not among the legions of fans.
The game is simple enough, drive around with one of eight cars to choose from, pick up weapons and blast the other cars into smithereens before they do so unto you. The mechanic is familiar enough: the different cars have varying strength and weaknesses like armor and speed. The weapons can home in on an enemy, have a straight but powerful shot or your target from long distances as is the case with mortars. You have the ability and choice to charge up and use combos (much like a fighter) to let out even more devastating blasts. It’s fairly easy and intuitive to use.
Here is where my problem is though. If you like for driving games to actually resemble the act of driving, this game will frustrate you to no end. The turning radius is as big as a crop circle. If you need to stop and back up prepare to wait a while so the momentum of your car can naturally cease before you reverse. If a tire hits the tiniest unforeseen ramp expect your car to careen helplessly down a mountainside. If you get hit by a weapon, and by god you will, prepare to be spun out of control only to stop, get hit again and repeat the process until your adversary runs out of whatever super cannon he or she is using at the time. To put it mildly driving can be extremely frustrating. Kind of big deal…you know…being a driving game n’ all.
The sound is adequate. Weapon effects and driver quips are nothing special but serviceable. The music is an enjoyable selection of altered tunes from the 70s most familiar but not totally mainstream. They remind me of the defining court case with Vanilla Ice and “Under Pressure.” The same tracks…but not really.
The tracks themselves are varied enough and fun. The add plenty of ramps and things to blow up. The regular cast is all here: ice, farm, desert tracks are eager to get your playtime. But again, helplessly flying across them detracts from being able to enjoy them fully.
Online modes consist of co-op and deathmatch. The online portion holds up to eight players with a nice and familiar lobby system. Online does in fact run very smooth which is always a welcome sight when arcade games can largely be hit or miss on this front.
Vigilante 8 does have it good points. A large amount of unlockables, a decently sized campaign of varying difficulties and smooth netcode make for some good times. However, the glaring difficulties in the physics system make the game more exasperating than fun. I don’t know about you but I am into games for fun not to be tried like I am in a court of law. V8 has its share of ardent fans and I for one bless them. I for one will never be joining their ranks and my playtime on the game will be short-lived at best.
Graphics were very much the same as the PS1 version. An homage for fans but for those who weren't fairly bland looking.
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The weapons are fun to use but the bad driving and physics take away so much of the fun.
Decent song list but it is only marginally better than average.
You can spend a lot of time unlocking the cars and paints if you feel so inclined. The online does run very smoothly on the matches I played.
There certainly are worse arcade games on Xbox Live but if you are not an old fan I would likely just speed by this game. I just made a pun there.