Vin Diesel is a Hollywood force with a star power that continues to shine with relevance whether releasing music spontaneously or driving fast while also being furious. Announced at the 2020 Video Game Awards, Diesel will take on dinosaurs as the lead role in the sequel to Ark: Survival Evolved. Casual gamers might see this as another actor taking the opportunity to hop on the video game bandwagon. However, this won’t be the first time Vin Diesel has starred in a video game.
Diesel is one of few actors with a reputation for embracing nerd culture. He’s always eager to portray colorful characters from comic books and science fiction/fantasy properties. He consistently professes his love for Dungeons and Dragons. Most relevant to the topic at hand, he founded his own video game development company in 2002. Tigon Studios is a developer that has released such titles as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena, and Fast & Furious Crossroads.
If you haven’t caught on by now, Tigon Studios develops games that are exclusively dedicated to Vin Diesel. It should also be noted that all of those games just mentioned make up a majority of Tigon Studios’ output timeline before its development suspension in the late 2000s. But just before their time was up, Tigon Studios was approached by Midway Games to create a product destined to be Midway’s biggest game since Mortal Kombat.
Wheelman is an action-adventure game set in open-world Barcelona, Spain and stars Vin Diesel and his wardrobe of tight T-shirts. It was an original story featuring a muscular bald man who is a highly skilled driver under the identity of the Transporter. Oops, I mean the Wheelman. It’s basically if you put Grand Theft Auto and Burnout into a blender and added a lot of pre-workout.
Critics complained about how easy the missions are, as enemies miss most of the shots they fire and cars you’re chasing will slow down to let you catch up to them. The storyline was considered convoluted and the game mechanics were at times head-scratching. Wheelman features the ability to jump from one moving car to another and hijack it by kicking through one window and throwing the driver through the opposite window.
Overall, the game was panned for being silly and mediocre. There was intended to be an MTV original movie picking up where the game left off, but it got canned. Midway Games ended up folding and selling their assets not long after the release of Wheelman. Tigon Studios was temporarily suspended until Vin Diesel reassembled the company in 2013 to release a Riddick mobile game called Riddick: The Merc Files. The company now has hopes of developing a third-person real-time strategy game based on the Punic Wars of Hannibal Barca called Barca B.C.
Vin Diesel saw the potential of video games as an entertainment medium back in 2002. Now, there are handfuls of celebrities donning motion capture tights in order to provide their talents to development companies. Although Vin Diesel didn’t reach his intended success with Tigon Studios, his mind was headed in the right direction.