reviews\ Dec 13, 2002 at 7:00 pm

WRECKLESS: The Yakuza Missions - PS2 - Review

So far it’s been quite a year for the Xbox crowd who has been seeing great PS2 games being ported to their consoles, but it comes as a bit of a surprise to find that this can also work vice versa.  The game in question is Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions, a popular Xbox game that has you tearing through Hong Kong on a mission to stop the Japanese mafia known as the Yakuza--using any means necessary.


There are a number of changes made specifically for the PS2--and we’ll be diving into that soon--but the game’s story is still intact.  You can choose to play as a pair of bumbling spies who are sent out to out race and foil the Yakuza or a pair of female cops known as the Flying Dragons who pretty much do the same thing.  Whichever part you wish to play, there are ten missions plus ten bonus PS2-only missions to go through.


One of the game’s other bonuses, besides the extra missions, is that there are many more wild cars to unlock.  The various cars range from police vans; four-by-four sports utility vehicles, an ambulance and now a city taxi cab.  These cars move smoothly as it did in the Xbox version thanks to the usual driving control scheme of accelerate, break and reverse.  The cars can now shoot missiles, which makes things a tad easier yet less realistic.


There is no big difference between the mission of the Dragons or the spies seeing as the missions (that begin at an easy difficulty setting and then moving on to the hard setting) pretty much follow the same pattern.  In one of the Dragon’s missions you are to destroy a series of dim sum stands operated by the Yakuza while trying to beat the timer.  This is actually similar to one of the spies’ mission that has you destroying a series of Yakuza cars.  Most of the missions are protecting a specific vehicle from being destroyed to making all the checkpoints in time.  All of this is pretty fun, but doing the same mission for the third time does get pretty tiresome.  The bonus missions do offer much more bang for the buck--and, although there isn’t much of a diverse selection of missions, gamers will be grateful to have them available.


The heart of the game is the actual recklessness of both the Dragons and the spies as they literally tear through the massive city with little or no regard for public safety.  You can pretty much tear through sidewalks and cause total destruction to see a mission through.  Following the city map, you can see that sometimes crashing through areas can result in finding a much-needed shortcut that can save you some time.  You can also slam into oncoming traffic, which can either block your path or stall the Yakuza cars.  The game will also reward you for your destructive rampage . . . that doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense while playing the Dragon segment.


One of the game’s biggest disappointments is with its multiplayer option.  Two players can participate in seven missions that range from games like Free Chase, Survivor, Checkpoint Chase or a nice round of Capture The Flag.  The problem is that the action is not seen in split-screen mode--which would have been the more sensible option seeing as there is racing involved--but rather they opt for a single screen deal.  The problem with this is that the other player might be much faster than another player and if they attempt to leave the screen, the game will place them back in its original position: side-by-side with the other player.  This is not good at all.


It would be silly to expect this version of the game to compete with the highly accelerated graphics power of the Xbox, but the PS2 does a somewhat good job of making the attempt.  The city of Hong Kong is jam packed with eye-catching details with sidewalks filled with newsstands, outdoor cafes, vending machines and pedestrians going about their business.  You can break just about everything you slam into and hitting pedestrians that are trying to get out of the way results in their bodies bouncing off the vehicle.  Still, even with all this, the game’s visuals may look just a bit plain in several places.  Good thing the cars look great as well.


The sound effects are where the game really shines and gamers will hear it the minute they slam into a busy cafe.  Glass shatters, chairs snap loudly and metal posts clink as if metal was striking metal.  Pedestrians cry out when they are hit and shout angrily at you as you zip right on past them.  The voice acting in Wreckless is incredibly cheesy, even more so than the usual Japanese-to-English translation.  Gamers will be laughing at the unintentional funny dialogue in the cut scenes that move the weak stories along.


Even with the bonus goodies, Wreckless is still that extremely fun game that loses it charms way too quickly.  Still, this is chaotic vehicular mayhem at its finest and gamers that weren’t able to play the Xbox version should definitely check this game out--this is the perfect weekend rental.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 6.9
The cars handle like a dream and they hardly ever are the cause of a failed mission since they do handle curves nicely.  The cars can really pick up some speed but thanks to the heavy Hong Kong traffic, speed isn’t really what this game is about (unless its you’re in a race).  It’s also helpful to make full use of the cheats the game quickly unlocks for you and keeping an eye on the map for some shortcuts wouldn’t hurt any.  There’s also the adrenalin boost that suddenly slows time down, allowing you to make more precise turns.


Many of the missions have you escorting and protecting vehicles with health meters as Yakuza cars attempt to ram it off the road or destroy it.  Thanks to the fact that you now have a limited amount of missiles to use, you can dispatch Yakuza cars much more quickly.  The same can be said with the spies’ mission to destroy and armored truck.


Graphics: 7.4
Lacking the visual dazzle that made the Xbox version an example of what it’s capable of doing with its graphics, the PS2 is still great to look at.  The massive city will really amaze gamers with its abundance of details and moving objects and people--Hong Kong is truly alive in this game.  Even the cars that reflect light amazingly, look spectacular as they move through a city.


The problem is that even with excessive details--and upon closer inspection--you can see how really plain the visuals really are.  The pedestrians, for example, might look neat from afar but once they’re up close (or being hurled over the hood of your car) they look really bland.  That cafe in one sector of town looks amazing, but as you’re plowing through it you’ll see how the chairs look more like cardboard cutouts.


Sound: 7.6
The amazingly detailed sound effects are just marvelous and gamers will love how it immerses you as you rush through the thick traffic or plow head-on into the busy sidewalks and smashing everything in sight.  You can hear the burning rubber of your wheels as you slam your breaks and smash into a busy cafe.  You can hear the meaty thud of a hapless pedestrian that had managed to dodge the speedy Yakuza car but was not able to get out of the way of your front fender.


There’s some voice acting here too but it’s so incredibly awful that it’s not really worth mentioning--except for the fact that it will inspire unintentional laughs.  At least the music is a lot better, although not by very much.


Difficulty: Medium
The timed missions are some of the toughest missions you will find in the games and the hardest of these are found when you complete the easy missions and move on to the hard difficulty setting.  Often times the timer will seem highly unfair since they will give a short amount of time to reach a destination that is pretty far away.  Still, there are plenty of short cuts in the game; the question is just finding them on your own.


Concept: 6.8
While the stories aren’t what will draw gamers into the game; it’s the actual chaotic mayhem you can cause that is the game’s biggest appeal.  Not only are you not penalized for causing the destruction of property--and adding to a long list of pedestrian casualties--but also you are rewarded for how many things you can destroy while completing a mission.  The cheats you can unlock do add more flavor to the game since they can change things such as gravity, traffic (you can choose not to have any traffic at all), unlimited boost or super speed. 


Multiplayer: 5.0
Quite possibly one of the worst multiplayer options available for a game, Wreckless does an awful job of designing a worthy two-player multiplayer game.  For starters, the action is not even split-screen.  Imagine using the same screen in a race and if one of you just happens to get farther ahead, the race suddenly restarts you in an even position.  And the sad part about this is that there are seven multiplayer games that would have been fun had this been split-screen instead.


Overall: 7.0
Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions is rowdy destructive fun and the bonus features do add more bang for your buck, but it doesn’t take very long to get bored with this game.  If you’re looking for a game with plenty of vehicular pandemonium then this is the game for you.


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