Players: 1+ Player Game | Release Date: 02/04/02 | Genre: Driving
After plowing through Halo, Xbox owners have been patiently and anxiously awaiting the arrival of a game that they can be proud of. "Where are all the kick-ass games that Microsoft has been promising?" This is a question that Xbox owners across the nation have been asking, and rightly so. After plunking down upwards of 300 bucks for the system, don't we have the right to play games that push the technological envelope? Well, the good news is that Wreckless does in fact boast some of the best graphics ever seen on a home console system. The bad news; its not that fun.
Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions is one of the most beautifully rendered games ever stamped onto optical media -- actually, I dare say that no other game can even hold a candle to Wreckless, graphically speaking. The visuals are simply stunning; at first glance you will swear that this is the game you've been having wet dreams about since the introduction of pixels, high-class bump mapping, particle-tracers, volumetric lighting effects, location specific damage modification, and stunning use of pixel shaders. At times, albeit fleeting, Wreckless looks perfectly photo-realistic, no joke.
Replays are especially awesome to watch, imagine the best aspects of Gran Turismo 3 mixed in with Project Gotham Racing, throw in a handful of Photoshop filters and multiple cinematic camera POV's and you'll start to understand just how sweet this game looks in replay mode. Wreckless has all the right ingredients to make a heaping serving of visually stunning graphical goodness.
All this eye-candy comes at a price however, the game is plagued with clipping problems that are, at times, completely ridiculous. Crashing into a wall at high speeds will sometimes result in half of your car meshing into the wall, leaving you high centered until you are hit by oncoming traffic or until you restart the level.
Force Feedback implementation is lazy and un-immersive. Unlike Project Gotham where every crack on the road could be felt, in Wreckless you can crash into phone-booths, sidewalk protection gates, and most any other object without feeling a bit of Force Feedback. Wreckless is like a super-model who is completely devoid of any sort of personality, this is a trophy-game at its finest.
Voice acting is for the most part suitable, and while lacking personality or charm, it rarely detriments the overall experience. In-game music compliments the action quite nicely; it has a rockin', techno-ey, studio quality sort of feel to it.
Wreckless boasts a healthy assortment of vehicles, ranging from the "Super-Car" (an almost picture perfect recreation of Back To The Future's time traveling DeLorean) to a 4x4 Police Big Wheel Monster Truck. Most vehicles handle nearly identical with slight variations in acceleration and top speed. The realism of the location specific damage to the cars is incredibly impressive and despite how messed up your car becomes it still handles the same, giving you the freedom to perform incredible crashes without worrying about your car blowing up.
Upon loading the game you will be presented with a 'Scenario Select' menu, here you will choose either Scenario A or Scenario B. In Scenario A, you will play the part of two ditzy Hong Kong policewomen, one of which has an unhealthy obsession with pudding, the Yakuza (a type of Japanese Mob) is their main target. In Scenario B you will be in control of Ho and Chang, two equally mentally challenged partners who are supposed to be spies, these dim-witted detectives are also after the Yakuza. Wreckless sports a total of 20 levels, each Scenario consists of 9 missions and 1 unlockable mission. A large percentage of the 'Missions' consist of simply running into enemy vehicles until they explode, the beautifully rendered graphics and large assortment of destructible objects along the way however transform this simple task into an entertaining and intense experience.
Difficulty ranges from brain-dead simple to throw-the-controller-at-the-screen hard. Comparatively speaking, the end boss fight for Scenario A is so easy that it makes MGS2's end boss fight look like Ninja Gaiden's end boss fight. It will take the average gamer a total of 5 hours to play through game from beginning to end. Mission mode is the only offered gameplay 'mode', demoting Wreckless to 'rent only' rank. There are a few unlockable extras here and there, but nothing that makes this title deserving of 50 hard-earned bucks.
The game keeps track of things like 'Total vehicles destroyed', 'Total play time', and 'Max speed', if your interested in keeping tabs on your stats. As far as tweakable options go, you have the choice to turn 'vibration' on or off and the ability to turn volume up and down, not quite the customization options that'll win you any awards.
Had this game offered a multi-player option, or a Project Gotham style-racing mode, it could have easily been in the top 3 Xbox games released thus far. As it stands, Wreckless is a technological masterpiece of a game that fails to realize its full potential.
Outside of the limited gameplay options, incredibly inconsistent difficulty, and sometimes mind numbingly frustrating collision detection glitches, Wreckless is a surprisingly entertaining rental.