Things on Wheels is an RC racing game found on XBLA for 400 points. A good deal for the content it hosts. Or so it seems. The game features twenty tracks set over four episodes, making it five per episode. What makes it interesting is its story. Even if there isn't much of it.
A millionaire hosts an RC racing car tournament every year in his mansion. Your uncle has a champion in the tournament, but that champion acquires a broken wrist, and so you have to take his place. You start by going to the prologue, reading the first blog entry which explains all this, then head out to the sandbox to practise driving.
It's cool, as this sandbox is the garden of the mansion, and some of the races will come out here as well. Once you've had enough practise, exit out of the sandbox, move back to the menu and select Championship (or arcade if you want to practise racing) to get straight into the first race. This first race is where we get our first look at the powerups.
These powerups are fairly straight forward. Boost, shield, ice, and electric. The first two are fairly obvious, with the other two being attacking moves. Ice covers the wheels of nearby drivers to make grip a thing of the past. Electric slows nearby drivers down, sort of a slow-motion thing.
These powerups are freely available to all drivers and are visible on field so you can see what you will be getting. And that's a good thing, as you can drive through the same powerup again to stack the meter so you can use that powerup for longer. But beware - drive through a different powerup, and you'll get that powerup instead, and it will drag the meter back to minimum power.
Since this is an RC game, you can forgive the shonky physics. Really? In the first five races you might think this. "It's just an RC game. These kind of driving physics are expected." But then you get to the next five, where the tracks become more complicated, and you'll find yourself wanting to be struck by the electric powerup just so you can make a tight corner properly. Things aren't helped by the fact that no matter what race you are in, you have to finish first. Thankfully there are checkpoints on the track, and you can press Y to reset to the last checkpoint passed if you get lost (or stuck).
This then leads us onto the AI, which to be fair, is completely terrible. If you're not busy crashing into every item you see on the track, it is easy to get way ahead of them. So much so that if you do get stuck right near another checkpoint but don't pass it, then reset to the previous checkpoint, no-one will have passed you. Other times, they're uselessly barrelling themselves into a wall right next to a checkpoint. Honestly, it’s the most silliest thing ever.
In the last race, I made a complete mess of the first corner and gave the competition a huge lead. Instead of restarting, I decided to go ahead and catch them up. It was only on the second lap that I realised I was in seventh. I hadn't passed anyone - or so I thought. Coming up on a checkpoint, I see another racer curve too early and hit the wall. It then reset. It made exactly the same move, then reset again. I continued watching it, and again and again it would make the same move.
Now then, I don't want to make any more paragraphs on this title, so important things to note. The sounds don't seem to have had much effort put into them, and even the soundtrack is just one track. The graphics are alright, and stand up with most games, but against others of the latest times, there is a pretty sizeable difference. If you want to go online - don't bother, it's dead.
Local multiplayer is alright though, and features the same modes from the single player arcade mode. Some of the achievements are god-damn easy (look at the last page of the blog??) and others are just so near impossible it's untrue (complete a lap in 56 seconds on a track that doesn't even seem able to be completed in under a minute).
I can see now why this was launched "quietly" on XBLA. While a good racer, the only thing I can recommend if for is being cheap, and at 400 MSPoints, I'm pretty sure there are more better things to buy anyway.