30 Years of Video Games – Vigilante 8 (1998)

I’m waving goodbye to my 20′s and to celebrate I’m counting down 30 games from the last 30 years.  Join me while I countdown 30 great years of game memories.

Vigilante 8

It seems almost hard to believe that there was ever a time whereby multiple car combat games were being released in any one year.  Twisted Metal blew the genre up when it debuted almost day and date with the original Playstation at launch in 1995, but it wasn’t until its sequel, World Tour, released two years later that the frenzy began in earnest.  A year later it was on for young and old and as the Twisted Metal brand waned once it moved from its original developer Singletrac to Sony’s 989 Studios with the mediocre Twisted Metal III, its competitors swooped in for the kill.  One of these competitors was Luxoflux who too had a history with alternative takes on the driving game.  The game was Vigilante 8.

Released originally for the Playstation, with versions for the Nintendo 64 and Game Boy Color following, Vigilante 8 was a departure from the format that Twisted Metal pioneered, incorporating objective based play alongside its traditional deathmatch style penchant for destruction. Set in a 1970’s era oil-deprived United States of America the Quest modes has you picking an of-the-era car from one of the two in-game factions, the Coyotes and the Vigilantes, and progressing through levels by completing objectives.  Of course once the Quest Mode was complete it was all about the split screen multiplayer, which like Twisted Metal, is really where Vigilante 8 shone.  Perhaps even a little brighter than Twisted Metal.

It also certainly didn’t hurt that Vigilante 8 was a bit of a looker with its cool 1970’s vibe really shining through with the help of some incredible artwork.  The vehicles looked great and the varied and destructive and dynamic environments lit up by  rather impressive lighting looked a generation ahead of its competitors, including Rogue Trip: Vacation 2012 released in the same year.

Vigilante 8 was also  a more ‘physical’ game than both Twisted Metal and Rogue Trip with the cars having a real sense of weight to them.  The first time I watched the weight of the car roll onto its suspension as it turned at speed was the very moment that I realised that while it shared some of the same gameplay mechanics, Vigilante 8 was a different beast from its inspiration.  It was by no means a slow game but it was a more methodical one and one that forced the player to be a little bit more thoughtful and considered in their driving.  It was certainly less accessible than Twisted Metal for the casual player but for the seasoned car combat veteran once the barrier was broken and they had grown accustomed to the vehicle control, Vigilante 8 was a welcome change to the frenetic pace of Twisted Metal, and in some ways a better game.

Vigilante 8 was followed by a sequel Vigilante 8: Second Offence a year later which made a number of improvements to the original.

Vigilante 8 (Luxoflux, 1998, Playstation 1)
Vigilante 8 (Luxoflux, 1998, Playstation 1)

Have a favourite game from 1998?  Tell us in the comments below.  Don’t forget to come back soon for the next game in our countdown.  Miss a year?  Catch up below.

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