Choosing a character from either gang, the player then sets off on a quest to destroy his or her rivals. There are 12 characters in all (including four who are locked) including Chassey Blue and her ’67 Rattler, hustler John Torque and his ’69 Jefferson complete with a bass sound-system (the Bass Quake), and a former alien test pilot named Loki, who drives a missile toting `73 Glenn 4×4.
Like the Twisted Metal series, Vigilante 8 is a vehicular shooter combined with muscle cars, special weapons and pickups, and fully destructible arena-based levels. There are eight arenas in all ranging from a ski resort to a Las Vegas-like casino city. During the course of battle, buildings, fences, and landmarks can be annihilated; by doing so, secret places or items may be accessible.
There are few gameplay options including the one-player Quest and Arcade modes and the two-player Versus and Cooperative options. In the Arcade mode, the player will select their character, an arena, and the opponents that will be destroyed. This is a no-frills shoot-’em-up deathmatch. The Quest, on the other hand, is a bit different — it is a four-level story mode for each character. As players progress throughout the Quest mode, more and more opponents come into the battle; the first level matches you up with one, the second level with two, etc. Depending on how many times you’ve finished the Quest with different characters, new arenas and drivers will become unlocked.
The two-player modes are played via split screen (option for horizontal or vertical). Versus is a simple deathmatch while the Cooperative mode is joint effort against computer-controlled opponents. Like the one-player’s Arcade mode, players choose which arena they’d like to battle it out in and their drivers.
Vigilante 8 supports the Dual Shock Analog Controller and a Memory Card to save your game. This saves completed Quest modes as well as unlocked characters and arenas.