Vigilante 8 was one of the most celebrated car combat games on the PlayStation, and I'm pleased to say that with new multiplayer options and improved graphics the N64 version is even better.
For those of you unfamiliar with the premise of the game, let me explain it. The basics of gameplay are simple: You drive around a 3D landscape in one of 12 vehicles that you can outfit with various weapons you find in the level. Within each level there are other vehicles you must destroy so you can advance. You ultimately want to get through all of the levels to see the happy little ending for each of the characters. Each level in the single-player game has a specific mission that you must complete. The missions are simple: You do things like protect a specific structure - like a bank or gas station - within the level. However, depending on which character you pick, you may be asked to destroy a specific building. Either way, it always seems to end up with you seeking out the competition and blowing it to smithereens.
Right off the bat, the most important things to note about the N64 version of Vigilante 8 is that it has a new level that wasn't in the PlayStation version, and that it supports four-player simultaneous play, compared with the original PlayStation version, which only supported two. Equally important in both versions, though, is that it's really enjoyable how alive the environments are. For instance, when you're battling the other vehicles in the aircraft graveyard, huge planes are trying to take off. When you find yourself on the canyon level you'll find a locomotive going about its way. What's even better is that all this extra stuff within the levels can be blown up. Sure, there's no good reason to do so, but it's hella fun. My favorite thing to do is blow up the supports of the train bridge and watch the whole thing come tumbling down. And, actually, some good can come out of blowing things up, as you may, for instance, find a hidden weapon or other power-up, like a shield, behind a building.
Controlling the vehicles in Vigilante 8 is extremely easy and intuitive. You steer the cars using the analog stick, and fire rockets, machine guns, and other various weapons with the buttons. The physics used for the cars makes them fun to drive since they're an exaggerated version of real-world physics. For example, if a big explosion or a special weapon goes off near your car, it's likely that you'll go flying - and far, at that.
Visually, Vigilante 8 on the N64 is quite impressive, a bit more so than the PlayStation version. The lighting effects used for the explosions and laser blasts are really extraordinary. The polygonal vehicle models look even more detailed and move more realistically than before. Even the environments look a little more defined, making it easier to see secrets and things not noticed before in the PlayStation version. The pop-up or level fill-in is probably the only thing you could complain about if you had to; however, it doesn't affect the gameplay in any way. Vigilante 8 on the PlayStation had incredible music, thanks to the CD that carried it. The N64 version, of course, doesn't use the CD medium, so the music has been watered down a bit and turned into fairly decent midi renditions of the original music. The sound effects and character taunts you hear throughout the battle really add to the games free-for-all feel.
In the end, Vigilante 8 for the N64 is not only the best car-combat game for the system by default (there aren't any others), but with its great multiplayer options, it even has a bit of an edge over its PlayStation counterpart. I'd recommend Vigilante 8 to anyone, especially to people who play a lot of multiplayer games with friends. The only negative thing about the game is its brief single-player mode, which literally takes less than an hour to beat per character.