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Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Bunkasha
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:

Oh. My. God.

I haven't seen a driving game with visuals this gorgeous since I first laid eyes on a Gran Turismo 3 beta test, and that's really pushing it. Without a doubt, Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions shows off the Xbox's raw, scorching power like no other game around. The reflections are breathtaking, the light manipulation superb -- smashing up hundreds of Dim Sum carts with absolutely zero slowdown simply must be seen to be fathomed. If there's anything to be appreciated within Wreckless, eye-candy unquestionably comes out on top.

Sure, the sound effects and music are better than average as well, but they only serve to complement what's going on in front of your retinas. Engine noises tend to get repetitive every now and then, and chances are you'll get sick of hearing the same phrases from the poor pedestrians in each level. Big deal. Even a somewhat uninspired soundtrack from the mighty BT can't detract from such a beautifully constructed graphical experience.


By the time you mop up the drool after watching your first replay (truly one of the greatest aspects of the game -- possibly more fun than the missions themselves), you may notice there's really not much to Wreckless after all. Well, there is, and then there isn't. Most shockingly, there's no multiplayer mode to be seen; this is strictly a single-player joint, with 20 missions and a handful of secrets to keep things moving.

But it's really all you need. Remember the first time you played Crazy Taxi? And wasn't it more fun to smash headfirst into other cars and wreak havoc in the streets than it was to actually pick up fares and carefully drop them off? Hell yes! Thankfully, Bunkasha went ahead and made a game based on this principle, ending up with quite a nice bundle of chaotic entertainment.

Players choose from two scenarios: guiding a couple of cute Japanese policewomen on their quest to rub out the Yakuza, or controlling two bumbling spies in their parallel objectives to intercept the mafia. Along the way you'll find hidden passageways containing secret vehicles (monster trucks, vintage taxis, armed tanks... you know, the usual) and alternate routes to complete each goal. Of course, Wreckless also doubles as a great stress reliever -- nothing feels better than tearing up an entire city in a jacked-up Super Buggy after a rough day at work!


While it's theoretically possible to beat Wreckless in a day, it'll be one of the most grueling days of your life. Most of the missions involve driving around quickly and hitting stuff, yet a remote few will test even the best player's last nerves -- like, a few hundred times. For example, one level in particular has you slinking around the city docks to snap photos of the Yakuza's leader from different angles. Cool premise, but the time limits and technically demanding jumps scattered throughout the area are insanely tricky. Don't pick this game up without expecting frustration at some point, and you'll be fine.

Game Mechanics:

One would think that those wacky coders at Bunkasha could've handled collision detection properly with such an advanced game engine; sadly, plenty of horrendous clipping errors turn up everywhere you look. I can't believe how many times I've watched my Delorian cruise straight through light posts, palm trees and innocent pedestrians without the slightest physical acknowledgement of each object magically passing through a huge car. There's no excuse for such an oversight, but nevertheless, just about everything else looks and moves just fine.

Additionally, each vehicle's weight distribution is astounding to say the least. Physics and maneuvers differ between the cars, effectively setting up new strategies for each mission. Certain levels often require a particular car to handle the terrain or tough objectives, as others just can't perform in a similar manner. This goes beyond speed and handling -- each vehicle just has its own developed feel, more so than nearly any other driving title out there.

If you're looking for a solid racing Xbox release, though, check out Project Gotham. Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions is all about going nuts and having a blast in downtown Hong Kong, and shouldn't be mistaken as otherwise. Even after you've completed all 20 missions and unlocked everything there is to see, there's always the mindless fun of demolishing a packed tour bus to keep a smile on your face. Rent before purchasing if you'd like, but this one's right up your alley if carnage outweighs caution in your book.

-Ben Monkey, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ben Lewis

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