Vigilante 8: Second Offense Review

Combining the fantastic audio from the PlayStation edition, the four-player mode offered on the Nintendo 64, and the graphical advances you expect from the Dreamcast, this version of V8SO is clearly the best of the three.

The console cousin to Activision's Interstate 76 line, the Vigilante 8 series, focuses on a group of good people who drive cars tricked out with weapons and fight against a group of bad people who drive cars tricked out with weapons. That's almost all the plot description you need, save for that the setting is the 1970s, and the game recycles the only things anyone would ever want to salvage from that era: muscle cars, funk music, Afros, and fat sideburns.

The second game in the series (which is of course entirely new to the Dreamcast) features a time-travel storyline, which of course introduces the weapon-laden flying vehicles that everyone's driving in the future, as well as other bits of advanced technology that lets cars skim along on ski slopes and water. As in the last game, you can play either on the good side or the bad side, each of which has its own mission requirements for each level, before all the other vehicles must be eliminated. As a good guy, you might have to gather stolen cash and return it to its owners, while the baddies must actually steal it. The mission objectives are now more elaborate than before, which should be good but isn't, because they aren't always as clear as they should be. For instance, on one level, you must protect a train and collect several toolboxes. To gather all the toolboxes, you must shoot the train, something you'd assume you'd want to avoid doing to accomplish the other objective. In another level, you must launch a rocket. This mission requires you to blast open a building, trigger a computer control to move the rocket to the launch platform, and trigger the control again once the rocket is in place. You can check over your objectives at any time in the game, but they offer scant instruction, and they don't check off once they have been accomplished.

One addition to the series that has no drawback is that you can improve the performance of your car. Each time you destroy a vehicle, you can collect an icon that adds a few points to one of several areas (speed, armor, and so on). If you get a hundred points in any category, your car's chassis automatically upgrades. The icons only appear for about ten seconds, so you'll want to be right on top of your opponents when you take them out, instead of up a mountain firing mortars from a safe distance. You'll probably encounter this feature first in the quest mode, but it's also available in the arcade mode, where you pick how many opponents you want and which stage you want to fight in, and where you can build up your ride even faster.

Another clearly positive aspect of the game is its music, which is fantastic. Each song tackles a different genre of '70s music and incorporates all the cliches without sounding cliche in the end. Nearly every song is infectious, but unfortunately, since rounds tend to run long in the game, you end up hearing them over and over again. If only a few more tunes had been included in V8SO the audio side could be considered flawless.

Meanwhile, the graphics are sharp in the same sort of way that the graphics in Ubi Soft's Speed Devils were, although pop-up is present at times along the horizon, leaving it as impressive on the Dreamcast it was on the PlayStation. The level design itself has many improvements over earlier iterations, with even more interactive elements (from ski jumps to hungry alligators and sharks in the water), a wider variety of environments, a greater number of hidden areas, and now absolutely everything seems to be destructible.

The Good

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The Bad

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Vigilante 8: 2nd Offense

First Released Nov 18, 1999
  • Dreamcast
  • Nintendo 64
  • PlayStation

If only a few more tunes could've been included in V8SO, the audio side could be considered flawless.


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Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
Animated Violence