MWN Impressions: Vigilante 8 Arcade

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Today saw the release of Vigilante 8 Arcade onto the Xbox Live Marketplace. I was a huge fan of the previous two installments on the original Playstation so you can imagine my face when I saw this. Vigilante 8 Arcade is essentially a remake of the first two Vigilante 8 games in a neat package with the advantage of 8 player Xbox-Live play. I’ve spent the better part of six hours playing it so get ready for my impressions after the jump.

Vigilante 8 Arcade takes the story of the original game, adds the highly destructible environments from the second outing, along with its better soundtrack along with a few new additions. The story is built around an alternate timeline, in which there was an oil crisis in the 1970s leading to economic crisis. Riots and violent crime were rampant, and a foreign oil consortium, Oil Monopoly Alliance Regime (OMAR) sought to control the world’s supply of oil. They hired Sid Burn, a professional terrorist to destroy the USA’s oil refineries along with his troops, the Coyotes. Desperate civilians began to take the law into their own hands. Led by a trucker named Convoy, The Vigilantes soon became a problem for Sid.

Meanwhile, in a state of emergency the US government was pumping all of it’s resources into the reverse engineering of alien technology to create the most advanced weaponry on the planet. The Coyotes found out the location of the weaponry and set out to obtain it. Somehow the Vigilantes managed to stop the Coyotes fro getting all of the weapons, however this left both parties in possession of the world’s most advanced weaponry.

The single player campaign consists of a series of increasingly difficult missions for each character with the story intermingled between each section. After beating the boss after the final mission you unlock the “retro” skin for the vehicle you were driving, in all it’s original 32 bit glory! I love throwbacks to old fans like this, it shows that a developer cares about it’s audience and knows what we’ll cream our pants over.

There are also three other single player game variants: quick battle, custom battle and free wheelin’. You can guess the premise of quick battle and custom battle, but free wheelin’ is a little more obscure. Basically it allows you to play any level with no enemies and just blow everything to shit. Hidden inside all of these different buildings, signs, trees and other elements of scenery are alien artifacts. There are 100 to find throughout the five arenas, with a secret unlock for anyone who can get all of them.

The five arenas (The Oil Fields, Farmland, Meteor Crater, Ski Resort and Hoover Dam) are filled to the brim with destructible scenery. Blowing up some scenery alters the map for the rest of the game, for example the petrol station on Farmland can be blown up to create a ramp to a spanner (health pack) or a bridge can be blown up to allow a safe getaway.

All of the classic weapons make a return – machine gun, rockets, missiles, cannon, mortar and mines. The controls have been simplified, with no need for cycling of weaponry, each weapon is easily accessible from the HUD and are mapped to the X, B and Y buttons. The buttons can now be held down to charge up any of the five normal weapons to unleash devastating attacks on your foes. Special crates return, with each character having a unique weapon, ranging from highly damaging armaments to useful gadgets that can get you out of a pinch.

The Xbox Live multiplayer is a blast, it manages to keep the hectic, and often insane combat that I know and love from the PS1 with little to no lag at all. Deathmatch mode consist of up to 8 players battling it out to reach the wreck limit before the opposing players and Co-op is the same deal, except this time teams are involved (and yes you can have more than two teams).

Vigilante 8 Arcade essentially takes the best bits from the two previous entrants in the series, adds in a couple of new mechanics, a big graphics boost and Xbox Live multiplayer. I could not ask for more. This gem is one of the few remakes of a game that not only lives up to the original but surpasses it. What do you expect from a team of developers that includes members who worked on the original game 10 years ago? Vigilante 8 Arcade is sitting on the Live Marketplace right now for the tidy sum of 800 points and I hear there will soon be 320 point DLC in the form of three new characters / cars and two new arenas hitting at some point too.

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