Wreckless has been getting almost as much hype as Microsoft's Halo, with nearly every magazine and website that we've seen positively raving about the graphical eye candy and gameplay that is on offer.
Imagine our disappointment then, when we put the game disc in to our Xbox, and find that Wreckless is little more than a Super Runabout style racer much like on the Dreamcast. Fine if you loved the Runabout series, but the whole feel of the game is very dated, and very uninspiring.
Graphics appear to be getting raved about by everyone who plays Wreckless, but they can't have played the excellent RalliSport Challenge yet, which is undoubtedly what we should be expecting from the Xbox. The blur effect has been over-used, and suddenly appears each time you crash - just the idea of the game is to crash in to other cars, so you get it happening a lot, and it becomes annoying quicker than you could ever imagine possible.
The music is also very bland and generic, and is just a dull wash of beats that we'd have expected in a game a few years ago, but when you consider that many games being released of late (such as in Project Gotham, NHL 2002, etc) feature well known artists performing popular current tracks, it seems like Wreckless has taken a backwards step. In fact, you can't even use your own tracks that you've ripped from CD's on to the Xbox hard drive - a real missed opportunity.
The cars handle poorly, with no powerslide, which we'd really have expected from a title which is supposedly so earth-shatteringly great. There's also pretty dire collision detection, and you can near enough drive through anything - see a tree up ahead, just drive through it (why?!) - we can understand being able to hit in to bins, fences, and signs, and expect them to shoot across the screen from the impact, but solid structures like trees really shouldn't allow you to just drive through them - very disappointing. The same goes for lamp posts and people, they just go through your car.
Collision detection is also fairly abysmal, and on one occasion whilst driving fast along a straight road we ran in to a bridge support in the central reservation, and the front half of the car got wedged in to the wall, actually through the support, and was stuck there with no way to free the car - with the time limit running down, and the pad vibrating violently. This isn't fun, it just makes the game unplayable.
Maybe we've been spoilt for choice so soon in to the Xbox's European launch, with titles like Project Gotham and RalliSport Challenge, but Wreckless simply doesn't stand up for itself when compared with other Xbox driving titles. When you consider how good Activision's 02 range of titles are (such as Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3), then Wreckless comes as a great disappointment, and not worthy of the hype that has surrounded it.
Forget the hype about the good graphics and reflections on the cars paintwork, there's a certain rally game out which is much more pleasing to the eye, and the still screenshots make it look better than it does when the game is in action.
If you're buying Wreckless for the street based crime element, then we'd suggest you hold on until GTA gets it's Xbox release. Wreckless might have a fair number of nice explosions, but the poor graphics and general bad gameplay make it a title that left us feeling very disappointed.Overall score: 3 out of 10
Recommended Price: £44.99
Available: NowBuy Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions from Amazon