They say sequels are better. In this case, they're right.
Vigilante 8 started off on the Playstation originally. I never played that version, but it's success must've been pretty good when it got ported to the Nintendo 64. Which is when I got it. I must say the game was fun and provided much enjoyment for a good amount of time. However, it still lacked a few things that made it a game to remember. That is when Vigilante 8 2nd Offense came out. The sequel filled in those holes PERFECTLY. If you enjoyed Vigilante 8, 2nd Offense will surely win your money.
Gameplay - 9/10
To start out, the Gameplay is somewhat the same as the first version. The objectives for the most part are the same. You do get a whole new plethora of characters to choose from, with new and interesting vehicles to take on and murder your opponents with. You got the same old weapon upgrades you can collect to hammer your opponents with. Along with a few new ones you can take the pleasure in using. Special weapon combo's do still exist. They are actually listed in the manual too. I'm not sure if they were in the 1st one, because I actually have the 2nd game's box.
Just like in the 1st Vigilante 8, the 2nd one does have the same kind of "family tree" as a guideline for your progress when you play. If you played the first one and beat it, then you'll know of the goodies obtainable for completing the "family tree", hehe.
A new thing they added in V82 is special tire modifications. What I mean by this is scattered along each map are upgrades that can give you a "boost" in handling performance, or take you places you can't reach normally.
1. Hovering - When you get this upgrade, your wheels basically turn into mini boosters which you can hover with. Very handy to avoid things like mines and hopping over obstacles.
2. Water Propellers - Most of these are located right before you take a dive into deep waters. When you get this, your vehicle will have the ability to float on water. Taking you across it with much ease.
3. Tread - Simply put, your car turns into a tank with wheels that have huge spikes to give you all the traction you need. Much advantage when you're having close range fights on land.
These wheel upgrades are nice, but they can hinder you if you don't know how to use them. You can lose them if you take too much damage as well. Or you can simply de-activate them by... well, I forgot actually. The game manual should tell you, or you can find out in options. Either way, it's a simple button combo that you could probably figure out rather quickly.
There are all new levels in V82 as well. Most are pretty large and have many little extras you can toy with and use against your opponents. Heck, there are even other enemies like giant crocodiles that'll attack you if you invade their territory. The new settings should be fresh and give you enough to have some fun with.
However there is one thing that stands out from it all.
I can not stress how awesome this is. Something that Vigilante 8 lacked a lot of, was added into the sequel. Every story mode race you undertake in, or any regular match you play while under your saved data will add this permanently for you. Every vehicle you blow up, upgrade parts drop for you to collect. Whether it be for armor, top speed or acceleration, you will get at least one. These add to your characters totals as you collect them. You can get as much as 100 points in each category, which there are 4. Acceleration, Top speed, Armor & Target Avoidance. The cool thing about the upgrades besides the fact your vehicle is more powerful is when you collect 50 points in any category, you get a custom add on to your vehicle. A total of 4 add ons. Plus a neat little bonus if you happen to max out all your upgrades. I'll leave that to you to find out.
Control - 9/10
Like it's prequel, the controls are easy to learn. No awkward setup or difficult maneuvers to perform. Besides the weapon specials, but those are supposed to take a LITTLE effort if you want to see your opponents go crazy. :P
Story - 4/10
It's a racing/shooter game. Storyline? Yeah, some. But if you're an RPG fan, don't freak out that it's not indepth and doesn't meet your needs.
Graphics - 8/10
The graphics are actually quite close in relation to the first Vigilante 8. I can't remember if the first supported the Expansion pack, but V82 does. And it actually makes a REALLY big difference. You have the option in the game menu when you pause the game, to change the video settings. You can set it for higher resolution, which in turn uses the Expansion Pack for what it was made for - making games look higher quality. Consider it like HDTV. Other than the big change, everything plays smoothly, things are as laggy... well, ok, it can get laggy but chances are it won't unless there is just way too much happening at once.
Sound - 8/10
The random soundtrack from the first V8 was so popular they decided to randomize it again. And I must say, it is quite a mix of tunes. Some songs can be pretty catchy and go along just great with the gameplay. Others make you think "the heck?". But ah well. All the machine gun power and rocket explosions will drain a good portion of it out. And if it really gets to you... hell, just turn it off, haha.
Replay Value - 9/10
Vigilante 8 2nd Offense has A LOT more replayability than the first game. Reason being is the vehicle upgrades in my opinion. It just adds so much fun to the game. You can basically pimp your ride out and change it to whatever color you want. I ended up playing this game for ALOOOOONG time. Just because of this nifty extra. Sure, it won't last forever, but it won't disappoint.
Overall - 9/10
V82 just plain rocks. I hate to admit it, but it blows Twisted Metal out of the water. I've played every version of TM, yes. It was always just the same thing over again. It only took Vigilante a second try to figure out how to please their fans, and by golly they did it. I recommend this game to everyone. Kids would probably get into it more, but I'm sure once some older folks took the controller in hand, they'd become an addict for a good amount of time.
Buy, rent, whatever you want to do. You at least need to play V82 once. It's a great game, period.