Review: Vigilante 8 – 2nd Offense (Playstation)

In this review, things get funky as we play the Playstation game Vigilante 8 – 2nd Offense. We find out how well this vehicular combat game plays.

This game was released in 1999. Earlier, we reviewed the prequel on this console, Vigilante 8. Although it wasn’t as strong as the N64 counterpart, it still provides solid entertainment. Meanwhile, the N64 version commanded a very respectable score with it’s solid gameplay and great music. To further our knowledge of this series, we reviewed the N64 version of Vigilante 8 – 2nd Offense. The innovation, fresh storylines, and great gameplay all made this game the best one yet. So, we thought it would be a good idea to give the Playstation version a try given how great it was on the N64.

Since we already reviewed this game on the N64, this review will focus more on the differences between the two games.

The first thing we noticed when playing this game is the fact that mission items do not show up on radar. On the N64 version, these items appear as blue dots on the radar so players have an idea on where they are located. If you’ve never played this before and only played the Playstation version, this can be frustrating. The reason this can be frustrating is because the items are generated in a bunch of different spawn points on the map. If you re-play a level, the items may be located in an entirely different location than the previous attempt.

To make matters worse, sometimes the opponents carry these items. In the N64 version, the enemies will become the blue dots to indicate if the enemy has an item or not. In the Playstation version, the only way to find out if an enemy has the item is to destroy them. This can be problematic because if the enemy doesn’t have the item, you can fail the mission. This is because after you destroy every enemy, you’ll get the rotating camera view and only a few seconds to react. So, it becomes a purely technical problem here.

Another difference ends up being more subtle than the other problem. Specifically, the character called the Flying All-Star Trio (FAST) character. Given that there is 15 characters, then this ends up being a short experience in the grand scheme of things. In the winter levels, this character can be almost undriveable. At random times, steering becomes disabled. It helps to randomly hit the break as it seems to be related to the front skis when you have the ski powerup. Still, when you are on buildings, there is almost no friction to work with.

To make matters worse, when you take this character out on the open water, this character’s steering becomes almost completely useless. While it is bad on the N64 version, it seems to be far worse on this version. The only way to drive this character on the water is to flip on the rear-view mode, then slam the vehicle into reverse and steer. At that point, the steering becomes about as good as the other characters while on water. Very strange way to do this, but the only practical solution for this annoying problem.

In the N64 version, this character has a habit of randomly flipping on the water. This problem persists in the Playstation version. The solution is to occasionally brake to retain stability. This, of course, assumes you are moving forward. It becomes a non-issue while driving in reverse.

This version also has the natural disadvantage of being in a disc format. Because of the format, each level takes a few moments to load. On the N64 version, each level loads almost instantly. This game requires some waiting time. Some of the sting of this is taken out by having the slideshow on each loading screen.

Beyond that, this game is pretty much the same experience as the N64 version. This is great considering how high this game scored on the N64.

One big surprise for us is the music. It is completely different from the N64 version. Although the N64 version has a number of tracks with the same name, the tracks are completely different than the Playstation version. The even bigger surprise is the fact that the music selection is probably the weakest yet out of all the Vigilante 8 games we’ve played to date. The only two tracks that stuck out for us was the main theme and Boogie Fever. After that, the music is great to fill the silence, but not much more then that.

The only thing that saves the audio is the extra speech samples for all the characters. The N64 has a win, lose, and character select sample. This game rotates through a number of them. This really helped add a bit of punch to the characters, but it’s largely window dressing to the overall experience.

The graphics are a little lower quality compared to the N64. This is thanks to the limitations of the N64 which has a habit of taking straight lines and zigzagging them randomly. On the upside, there are now movies in the ending. These movies are better than the prequel on this system as there is less context being missed. Still, it can be a tossup as to which is better, the Playstation version or the slideshow on the N64.

Overall, this experience emulates the one we had on the prequel. The Playstation version seems more prototypical while the N64 version has a nice polish to it. The lack of items showing up on the radar is a big detractor. The FAST character has worse controls. The music selection isn’t as great as the N64 version, but the speech samples are better. The graphics are lower quality in the game itself than the N64 version, but there is now movies where the N64 was merely slideshows for endings. So, this game is still a great play, though the N64 version would be a better bet if you could choose.

Furthest point in game: Beat every character on the easier settings. Took Nina to Arizona for Survival mode, made 50 kills and boosted her health back to full after. Got bored and called it a match.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 10/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 82%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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