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Wreckless: The Yakuza Mission






The Xbox gets some long awaited driving action where the object is to actually destroy something. Was it worth the wait?

One of the lessons that we all learn as children is to not judge a book by its cover. Even though something may look wretchedly bad on the outside, there could always be a kind soul at heart. Sadly, the same aphorism can be used inversely towards the negative aspect. Just because a game looks spectacular, doesn't mean that it will perform as well as its outer surface appears.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions centers around one of two storylines. In one you are in the shoes of two rookie spies taking on the Yakuza in a more covert sense, and in the other storyline you play as two inspectors from the Hong Kong police squad. I'm not going to spend a load of time on the story of the game. The reason for that? Like most good Hong Kong action films there really is no story to speak of, or if it is there, it's paper thin. While you may learn a few things about the evil Yakuza gang throughout the course of the game, for the most part your time is spent roaming around Hong Kong running into things.

Despite the obvious lack of a thought out story mode, the developers did an excellent job of varying the two storylines in an effort to keep the gameplay fresh. If you play as the two cops you'll spend your time slamming into various cars and objects on the road in a showier manner, whereas if you employ the spies as your characters you'll spend your time… well, spying. Missions can vary from taking pictures of enemy gang members to the standard slamming into opposing vehicles. The cars are also varied from storyline to storyline featuring the standard speedy sports cars to the meaty tanks typically featured by the military and SWAT team members.

The controls of the game take a bit of getting used but thanks to the simplicity of the cars and the nice stop and go nature of the gameplay, you'll be flying through the city's streets in no time. The basic setup is set with R being the gas and L being the brake, and the B button will send your car into reverse. You're able to adjust your view with the down button on the d-pad.

"What I recommend is sitting back and putting on some of the wonderful replay filters that come standard in the game."

Driving around the city will take some getting used to thanks to the looseness of the cars. You'll find yourself spinning out and flipping over a bit more then you'd like. Wrekless suffers from what I like to call "flipitis" in which your call has an amazing propensity for flipping over. What this amounts to, is a ton of restarts which means less and less time allotted for each mission. Needless to say this pumps up the annoyance factor of the game to a staggering degree.

The obvious pride and joy of this game is the graphics. As soon as you enter Wreckless's robust world you'll be overloaded with visual pleasures. Vibrancy is the name of the game in Wreckless and Hong Kong's world is full of it. Watching sparks fly off of your car overtakes any other visual effects ever seen in a video game and the replay mode takes things one step closer to video game supremacy.

The overriding factor when it comes the graphics is the ever-present invisible wall and clipping which you'll run into on occasion. The wall will prevent you from roaming around virtually anywhere, which you would normally be able to do in a city the size of Hong Kong. Clipping is less of a problem, as the collision detection engine in this game is vastly superior to virtually everything on the shelves today. Despite those two minor blemishes Wreckless presents quite the visual feast in the end. What I recommend is sitting back and putting on some of the wonderful replay filters that come standard in the game. But that's just me.

The gameplay of Wreckless is basically the same stuff over and over again. Cruising through Hong Kong breaking stuff over and over again. The missions can be very frustrating at times thanks to some shoddy design and poor planning. A nice use of a solid frame rate helps things run very quickly on the screen. One debilitating aspect of the title is the inability to die. You can pound the hell out of other cars and they'll eventually blow up but for some reason whatever vehicle you're driving no matter how much damage it takes (by the way, the real time damage model is very nice) it will never blow up or even experience the slightest degradation in performance.

The audio in Wreckless is possibly the weakest part of the presentation due to the overuse of some watered down techno music. The voice acting in the game is also sub par with some obvious B-movie writing. The actor's attempts at comedy come off as stupid and lackadaisical, and that's being very kind. Then again, the Hong Kong action movie analogy stands to reason that if you want a game to play like a genre film, the music and acting should also play like a genre film. The sound effects of crashing into objects are acceptable although they are a bit muted at times.

Yet another stifling aspect of the game is its length. Twenty missions of running into different objects and making a great many sparks fly can only last so long. When you've completed both scenarios the only thing left to do is go - through them again. While the levels are fun the first and maybe even the second time around, is it really worth your hard earned money for about three hours of fun? I guess it all depends on your financial stature and what you look for in a game, and isn't that what it always boils down to?

While there are many factors that bring this game down from the echelon where it should have resided, there is one absence that boggles the mind. Why in the world would Bunkasha not include some multiplayer in the game? Sure a delay would have been inevitable but it really could have saved this game from a few of its many pitfalls. Even the skimpiest of multiplayer options, a two-player mode, would have been most appreciated. Instead we've got a single player game that gets stale rather quickly.

Overall Wreckless is a seriously marred title that really could have shined on the Xbox. With all the hype surrounding this title, it's a real shame that the developer couldn't have come through in more than just the visual department. The audio stumbles, the gameplay reeks of repetitiveness, and the controls are fidgety and loose. What could have been a great Xbox game has turned out a slightly better than average title that every video game fan should try to avoid unless you are in serious need of a game to show off the power of the Xbox.

Nate "Gamer X" Ahearn
Really really wanted Wreckless to be great.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions: The Scores













The Final Word:  With so many eager and loyal Xbox fans looking forward to this title since way back when the game went by a different name, it's a real shame that the developer didn't rethink the gameplay mechanics prior to release. We could have been witness to a title that showcased all aspects of the Xbox's power. As it stands it's a poorly put together title that is just a good-looking, rotten apple.

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