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Vigilante 8

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Released: 1998

Genre: Shoot-'em-up

Format reviewed: PlayStation

Publisher: Activision

Developer: Luxoflux

I loved Twisted Metal, and was pretty sad to find out that the third game wasn’t going to be released in the UK. Granted, I’ve played it now and realise that it wasn’t excellent, but I felt genuinely annoyed by this in the late Nineties. Luckily, Luxoflux came along and helped me to forget all about it with Vigilante 8, an Interstate 76 spin-off which retained the core concepts of alternate history and car combat.

While it doesn’t have the warped humour of Twisted Metal, Vigilante 8 does have some out-there characters thanks to its Seventies setting, including an alien-obsessed guy and a disco-themed assassin. The newer game is also a much slicker experience – whereas the former series often had relatively rough visuals, Luxoflux managed to get its game running at an incredibly smooth frame rate with some pretty impressive effects. It looks like sorcery on the original PlayStation.

Best of all, it played very well – you could pick up only a limited selection of weapons, but this helped you cycle through effectively. Smartly, the game also borrowed the use of special moves accessed with button inputs, giving alternative firing methods for each weapon at the cost of using more ammunition. This added the layer of strategy that generally goes unappreciated in both Twisted Metal and Vigilante 8. I’m usually one to favour the innovator over the imitator, but Vigilante 8 just gets the vehicular combat genre so right that I couldn’t help but love it.