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Ratbag's Wheelman prototype video


So what did Ratbag's Wheelman exactly look like? An anonymous has sent in the video of the early Playstation 2 protoype version of the Vin Diesal starring vehicular action combat game to tsumea. This is the video that 70 or so ex-Ratbag staff would have sent out to local studios as part of their demo reel after publisher and owner, Midway, closed the Adelaide studio down just before Christmas, 2005. Most of the industry has probably seen it, and now so can you.

Impressions? As an early prototype, it actually looks pretty damn good. The vehicle handling and action mechanisms were well in place, including the bullet-time feature of the vehicle shoot outs, on foot action, and locational vehicle damage. The artwork and city looks pretty nice as well. It doesn't look complete and there are some rough edges here and there, but it certainly looks to be well on its way. It could've easily been one of the best titles to come out of Ratbag had it been completed.

Unfortunately, the uncertainties of the PS2 platform with the upcoming new consoles, and the shaky financial status of Midway, meant the downfall for this title and Ratbag, and who knows, it might have been an ill-formed decision on Midway's part considering the sustaining life of the PS2 and the delays of the next-gen versions of The Wheelman which managed to get released only last week.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/04/09 - 6:51 PM Permalink

Obviously, the guys from Ratbag traveled into the future, hunted down Vin Diesel, flogged him with limp celery until he gave up his copy of Wheelman (and associated console), then traveled back to 2005 where they copied the core gameplay elements and put them in an obviously sub-standard clone of the brilliant original.

The real reason that the studio was shut down was that they spent too much time playing SuperStardust HD on Vin Diesel's PS3.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/09 - 10:27 AM Permalink

There was a small team working on Wheelman in late 2004, mostly the people that came off Dukes of Hazzard, everyone else in the company was still working on the open world army game which was very similar looking to Mercenaries but was canned in Jan 2005 (12 months into development). Then everyone was shifted onto Wheelman which had just been signed by Midway and began ramping up in production.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 24/04/09 - 9:42 AM Permalink

Was on Wheelman (Ratbag) from day zero, this is PS2 Midway Australia footage.
Will always regret never seeing this project through to the end.

Anyone on any dev team anywhere knows how much it sucks to lose something you gave a shit about.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/09 - 5:48 AM Permalink

Is that Vin Diesel? Does that mean those claims that he hopped on board after the Ratbag version are false?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/04/09 - 6:45 PM Permalink

It was changed to Barcelona while Ratbag were developing it, it had been in development for about 18mths when the studio was closed. Everything we'd done was given to Pitbull who made L.A. Rush and are now known as Midway UK.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/04/09 - 8:14 PM Permalink

Actually we're known as Midway Newcastle.

I joined Midway Newcastle just as they started on Wheelman, but I've never seen this video before. It doesn't look like a prototype, it looks quite polished. The only videos (and prototype disks!) I'd seen of the ratbag version before today were crap. They looked a lot different, must have been the NY version.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/04/09 - 9:26 PM Permalink

The Barcelona code must have got lost in the post :)

Midway Chicago claimed they never did receive the vertical slice and that fact played a major part in the shutdown decision. Apart from the fact that Ratbag management obviously pissed Midway management off on many levels, but that would not be hard considering the state Midway is in now. Anyhow this video is pretty much the vertical slice that never existed. So you really did not see anything. This is not the vertical slice you are looking for.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/04/09 - 9:46 AM Permalink

Obviously someone at Midway saw it otherwise the final Wheelman wouldn't have resembled Ratbag's version so closely.

Submitted by souri on Tue, 07/04/09 - 4:17 PM Permalink

I know hindsight is always 20/20, but Midway should have really let Ratbag finish this title for release in 2007 when that generation of consoles were still profitable platforms. They could've continued the PS3/Xbox 360 version as usual and have the 2009 release as a next-gen sequel (albeit developed with different story and settings).