Review: Vigilante 8 – 2nd Offense (N64)

In this review, we play the vehicle combat game Vigilante 8 – 2nd Offense. We find out if this N64 game is still groovy to play.

This game was released in 2000. It is a direct sequel to the game Vigilante 8 which received an excellent score here. Since then, we’ve been really wanting to play the sequel to see if the game continued on such a great series start.

The game follows the events after Sid Burn’s arrest. The Coyote’s were decimated thanks to the efforts of the Vigilante 8 – a group of vigilante’s. Since then, Slick Clyde, a former Vigilante, had found a mysterious arm band that gave him new powers. Shortly after, he takes over the oil monopoly OMAR (Oil Monopoly Alliance Regime). After this, he goes back in time and re-forms the Coyote gang. He gets the Coyote’s to ambush Convoy who is driving down a freeway with former Coyote Houston. Convoy dies, but Houston jumps out in time to save her own life. Caught by surprise, Houston tries to get the Vigilante 8 team back together in an effort to stop the Coyote’s.

This game features numerous enhancements over the previous game. The most immediately obvious enhancement is the inclusion of the Drifter’s. These are characters that don’t technically have an allegiance to either side of the struggle, but the characters sometimes have a tendency to ally with one or the other side. In all, you get 9 characters to begin with: 3 Coyote’s, 3 Drifters, and 3 Vigilante 8 members.

A large bulk of the game is found in Quest mode – the big feature is the ability to unlock more characters. In quest mode, you get a series of levels to complete. In each level, you have to, at minimum, destroy every enemy on the map. This allows you to access the next level. However, if you want to complete the quest line, you have to fulfill a set of objectives in addition to destroying all the enemies on the map. What these objectives are depends on which team the character is on. If you are a Vigilante 8 character, you’ll likely have to protect something or steal back certain items. If you are a Coyote, you might find yourself having to destroy something or steal supplies. Meanwhile, the objectives for the Drifters could really be anything including the confusing objective of stopping traffic (you have to stop on a bridge and take multiple hits from a semi until it ultimately stops entirely).

Each character has their own storyline. The Trashman tries to salvage pieces of material. Bob O tries to evade recapture. Torque wants to recapture the escaped convicts. These storyline segments are found in a sort of slide show including a slideshow at the end if you completed everything.

Completing every objective is important because if you complete the objectives of all three of one particular group, then you unlock an additional character. In total, you can unlock up to three characters – two of which can only be played in arcade or multiplayer mode.

Another enhancement to this game is the salvage point system. Like the original vigilante 8, each vehicle in this game offers strengths and weaknesses. Some vehicles have better endurance. Other vehicles have great tracking avoidance. Some vehicles have great acceleration while others have top notch high speed. Previously, you get what you got throughout the entire game. In this game, it’s possible to collect salvage points in the form of round yellow icons upon destruction of an enemy. These salvage points are found in both quest mode and arcade mode. If you collect 50 salvage points for a particular stat, you’ll get a visible upgrade such as added bumpers or hood engines. If you max out each salvage point stat at 100 points, the whole vehicle will be upgraded to a better model. While the actual performance might not be super noticeable, every little bit does help in the end.

Also making a return is the “TOTALED” status. If you wear down your opponent to one dot of health, it’s possible to disable them. Once the enemy is disabled, you only have a limited amount of time to destroy them in a special manner. The best ways to disable the enemy is either through the machine gun or lighting them on fire with the flame thrower. After this, totaling an enemy requires either use of your special weapon or performing a secret trick with a normal weapon. If successful, the screen will say that the enemy was totaled and you get not 1 salvage point icon, but 3 for a total of 15 points.

The weapon system has largely remained unchanged in this game. You have the standard machine gun as a weak, but primary weapon with unlimited ammo. In addition to this, you have three slots for other weapons with limited ammo. This includes the mines and guided missiles. Sometimes, you’ll encounter brown mystery boxes. These boxes contain a random weapon, but it is possible to get a special weapon out of the deal. Meanwhile, the green army boxes contain your vehicles special weapon. These weapons can range from giant miniguns, to special guided missiles, to even arms that pick an enemy vehicle up and have your vehicle swallow it entirely for crushing destruction.

One thing to keep in mind is the fact that some missions require you to get items or deliver items. Such items will take up one of your three weapon slots, reducing you down to two weapons and your machine gun. If you have three weapons and you pick up a fourth, the game will discard the currently selected weapon. If your quest item is selected, the game will discard one of the two remaining weapons. So, it’s more than possible to accidentally discard your special weapon.

In addition to this are special items you can pick up. Three of these items are more than familiar to players of the prequel. These are the 2X damage, the green diamond shield, and the yellow bolt for tracker scrambling. You get these items for a limited amount of time, so making the most out of them can greatly increase your chances of success in a given mission. Not to be missed are the silver wrenches. These wrenches can repair your vehicle from some of the damage you take from enemies.

While those items are old hat, there are three brand new items for you to collect. These items are the jet ski powerup, the flying car upgrade, and the snow tread upgrade. All of these change your vehicles wheels to something more suitable for the environment. Many levels contain water, so if you grab the blue jet ski upgrade, you’ll be able to drive on the water and collect otherwise unreachable items. If you collect the light blue flying car upgrade, you’ll float a few feet in the air, avoiding some weapon fire and even allowing your car to glide over rough terrain. Finally, the purple snow tread upgrade will allow you to get better grip in the snow. You can revert to your normal tires at any time via the weapon selection buttons, but it is more than possible to lose these upgrades in-game as you take damage. So care may be required at times.

Another tradition this game carries over is the difficulty curve as you progress through each mission. In the first level, you’ll get one little enemy to take on. As the game progresses, you’ll gradually take on more and more enemies. In the final level, you’ll get the maximum number of enemies to take on. If you defeat every enemy, you’ll be forced to take on a fully upgraded, special weapon armed final enemy (the mission’s final boss). If you have any fight left in you after destroying the other enemies, this is what you have to take on.

There are two other game types in this game. The first is arcade mode. It’s pretty straight forward. You pick your character, the location, and the enemies you intend to take on along with how many times the enemies can respawn. Defeat all of them and you get a win under your column. If the enemies defeat you, then they get a win on their column. You keep playing until you are done causing mayhem in this mode. The practical bonus is the ability to collect salvage points for the purpose of increasing your chances of victory in the missions (not that I really found this necessary myself).

The other mode is survival. This challenging mode constantly throws enemies at you until you succumb to their efforts of wiping you off the map. No objective and no goals other than staying alive for as long as possible.

One great thing about this game are the easter eggs thrown into this game. While the previous game had these special bonuses hidden on the map, this game’s easter eggs were much more well realized. This includes launching your car into the stratosphere, filling your car up at gas stations, the ability to cause a nuclear explosion, and even causing a giant comet containing an invulnerable alien and to strike the earth. Some of these added bonuses can be small, but they add so much personality to the level maps. It gives the game that much more depth.

Another thing I found with this game is the high addicting factor. It’s just plain fun to drive around and destroy your enemies. Even after the missions are over, I had no problem tinkering around in arcade mode and playing more. Each round typically lasts anywhere between 2 to 7 minutes and all I find myself is wanting more.

This game isn’t without faults, though. The biggest fault I could find was the fact that high speed salvage points end up being far too rare. You could find yourself maxing out every other stat, but spend hours more trying to find the vehicles that are willing to occasionally dish out high speed points. As a result, it makes it rare for a player to get the vehicle upgrade in the end which is a bit disappointing.

The other flaw I found in this game is the fact that three of the characters do not have a story mode. You can unlock them, but that is all you can do with them outside of giving them upgrades. Because of this, you get that sense that the game was incomplete just by the way it is set up. I wished these characters had their own story mode levels, but that was apparently not to happen.

Still, I thought the flaws were minor compared to the amount of enjoyment I had with this game. The criss crossing storyline’s, the levels, the objectives, the enemies, the variety, the addicting play, the salvage points system, the other modes of play, and the nicely done difficulty curve all made for an excellent play. This game took what made the previous game good and made it even better.

Graphically speaking, I thought this game was great. The art style, the slide show storyline, the many environments, the effects, the explosions, the buildings you can drive through, and the vehicles were all nicely done. I really don’t have anything to complain about in this area and felt that it was great all around.

The audio really shined through in this game. The voice samples helped give each character that added push of personality. The sound effects were great and varied. Not to be outdone, the music was excellent. On top of the nearly dozen tracks found in this game are the variations on the music depending if you win or lose. If the intro wasn’t enough, you’ll likely have a favorite in this game. Mine was Convoy Country. Still, every track was very enjoyable all the while pushing a sort of 80’s vibe. The marriage between the old style and new style worked particularly well here. No complaints from me.

Overall, this game was highly enjoyable. The addicting gameplay, the mission structure, the weapons, the items, and the different characters and maps all did this game justice. The graphics were great and the audio was excellent. This game took what made vigilante 8 a good game and made it even better. As a result, I would highly recommend this game.

Overall
Furthest point in game: Unlocked every character.

General gameplay: 23/25
Replay value: 10/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 5/5

Overall rating: 92%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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