Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Review A Bad Game Day: Wreckless-Yakuza Missions

Well today is Review A Bad Game Day. Today sees a variety of different gaming writers come together to bring you their take on a particularly duff game. 

Some may be deemed a little controversial (perhaps YOU liked that game, but they didn't?), whilst many will have us all shake our collective heads and sigh with disappointment. I decided to take part too. Here's mine.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions (Gamecube)
Ah Wreckless. Whilst the Xbox version of the game was on the whole, critically well received, and successfully showed off the graphical capabilities of Microsoft's first Xbox, the same cannot be said for the Gamecube version. However, even with the Xbox version, I felt it was more about style rather than substance. Who wants to marvel at a well rendered Hong Kong but not entirely feel the same way about the gameplay?

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions is a game split into two stories revolving around the Japanese Yakuza in Hong Kong. The first story sees you playing as two female police officers, whilst the second follows two shoddy spies. Each story is spread across ten missions, including tasks such as stealing contents of an armoured truck, chasing down enemies, and so on. All the missions are pretty similiar, leading the whole experience to feel a little too repetitive for my liking. It's easy to get bored when you're "chasing down" the Yakuza (in quotation marks because's not much of an epic chase) time and time again.

For me, the missions were too boring, meaning that I did not engage in the game too much. Seeing as this happened rather early on, it was a bad sign of things to come. Now whilst I admit in games such as this, I'm often an awful driver (I love L.A. Noire, but my driving is rather appalling), but the handling on Wreckless seems to be particularly bad. On looking at other people's opinions of the game online, it seems that I am not alone on this assumption. 

Not only is the games handling frustrating, but unfortunately, Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions for the Gamecube is poorly rendered. Whilst graphics have never been a huge concern of mine (I'd much prefer enjoyable gameplay, if I had to choose), they can at times benefit the level of enjoyment you will find from the game. One aspect that largely faulters due to this is the increasing difficulty level. Often missions will be scored based on how much traffic you have crashed into, and/or the level of damage you have created in the environment. Well, with poor's near impossible not to make a bit of a mess! However, in the moments where destruction does count for something, well, like Burnout after it, this is where the fun lies. See? Even in a bad game I have to find a redeeming feature!

As well as the main story mode, Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions also includes a two-player mode. Not included in the original Xbox version, this two player mode introduces seven gameplay variants which are played in four different areas of the city. Sadly, here is where the game falls victim to it's boredom and repetition once again. Every mode involves one player chasing after the other, with the only difference being each time that the scoring conditions change ever so slightly. What is so awful about the two player in this game though is the choice of camera. Multiplayer is not player via split screen, but instead, rather bizarrely, sees both players sharing the one screen. This means that the camera is often all over the place, as it cannot follow both players perfectly at the same time. Supposing the chased player decides to quickly turn a sharp corner and the chaser continues to go in the same direction? Well the camera doesn't really know what to do in this it all gets a little awkward. Not fun.

As I previously mentioned, the handling of this game is rather appalling, especially when driving a car. The cars seem to drive so slowly that it actually feels rather sluggish. In an effort to "speed up" the driving, the cars have been given very, very (and may I emphasise again, very) loose handling. This means that they will constantly shift and turn even in the slightest movement, meaning that players are always fighting to simply get the car driving in a straight line. Like much of Wreckless, it's a frustrating experience. In fact, it's not only the driving that feels sluggish, it's pretty much the whole game. Whilst it felt quite fluid on the Xbox version, perhaps the reason for it's slowness is that the game engine of the Gamecube is not as powerful as the Xbox (and don't take that as a criticism...I love the Gamecube), but whatever it is, the horrid frame-rate issues, poor rendering and shoddy cutscenes make this all feel a little, well, cheap.

So overall, Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions is a disappointment. The Xbox version showed promise, with it's good graphics and often enjoyable gameplay, but this port over to the Gamecube seems to have left those redeeming features behind. Handling is frustrating, hard and sloppy, the multiplayer mode is often god-awful (no split screen camera?), and the single player missions are often dull and repetitive. There are plenty of excellent driving games out there that you can get your hands on, whether it is on the Gamecube or not. This is not one of them. Avoid!

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