Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions

Game Description: The Yakuza underground is a deadly, deadly bunch, but you're just the officer to take them down once and for all. Check your fear at the door and get ready for the most intense driving action ever conceived. Choose whether you want to play as a high profile, elite officer of the law or as an undercover ace in this thoroughly original Xbox gaming experience. Either career choice will earn you 10 mission-based driving turns, which will range from straight-up racing to complex rescue campaigns. The interactive environments in The Yakuza Missions are as detailed and trick-laden as they come, forcing you to find the shortcuts and bonuses in order to survive. You'll square off against plenty of foes (computer or human, depending on your preference), and your best weapon will be your car itself. Graced by truly groundbreaking graphics and unprecedented gameplay, this installment of the Wreckless franchise is sure to open the door for a long relationship between the Wreckless series and its new home, the Xbox.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions – Review

The world of the Yakuza is full of honor, violence and history. Many people simply pass off the Japanese gangsters as similar to the United State's Mafia. But that betrays the deep history of the Yakuza, which some believe stretches back to the extended period of peace in Japan during the Tokagawa era. Since the services of the Samurai were no longer needed, an increase in the number of Ronin—leaderless Samurai—was seen throughout Japan. Seeing as how they were no longer under the thumb of their masters, they turned to crime. Thus the Japanese gangster was born.

But the modern Yakuza would of course refute this theory. They claim to belong to the descendents of another breed of Samurai, the machi-yokko (servants of the town), who protected towns and villages from the aforementioned Ronin. They paint a picture of their descendents as heroes who stood up for the downtrodden in Japan. Even though they claim to have Robin Hood-style origins, their involvement in prostitution, corporate extortion and narcotics, to name a few, betrays their interpretation of the organization.

The modern Yakuza are often viewed by Japanese culture as gangster rebels. Whereas the rebel lifestyle is sometimes romanticized in Western media, the Japanese culture values conformity. "The nail that sticks up must be hammered down" is a national proverb that illustrates the Japanese disdain for those rabble-rousers. But the Yakuza continue to brandish their tattoos and their 50's era style of dress despite this, and in great numbers. Current estimates indicate there are 100,000 active members divided into 2,500 families. The Yakuza are a strong presence in the world of organized crime.

So, you'd think that with all of this rich history and compelling information that Bunkasha Publishing would've included some of it in Wreckless:The Yakuza Missions. But the story behind the game is about as silly as you can get with the subject matter. You either play as two female police officers who are out to bust the Yakuza, or two bumbling spies who wish to profit from the Yakuza. Unfortunately, the game could've been called Wreckless: The Missions as it does not delve into any history or accurate information about the Yakuza.

But fortunately, a game like Wreckless doesn't really need a good story to complement the game. It's a fun experience on its own. It's part demolition derby, part platformer (yes, believe it or not, Wreckless shares design elements with games like Super Mario Bros.), all brought together with a dash of racing. For the most part, the game is successful in melding all of these elements together into a frantic and enjoyable experience. But, the game does suffer from some unadmirable qualities—mainly its erratic difficulty and extreme lack of replay value. As with 99% of video games on the market, I think a little more polish on this title would've made it a blockbuster.

Wreckless is simply a mission based driving game. Some missions are ridiculously easy, while some are pull-your-hair-out frustrating. The different story scenarios have their different missions, but all are relatively similar while being different enough to not become redundant. The reoccurring theme is smashing up cars and collecting something from them. Others deal with transporting collision sensitive materials from one side of an area to the other, to rescue missions and straight out races through the city. Some levels even include the raising and lowering platforms you would think to find in the next Mario game (and no, they don't really work too well when you have to navigate them in a car). And to keep the pressure on, a timer is present for every mission.

But before you know it, the game is over. There are only a total of twenty missions between the two scenarios, which may not sound too shabby, but considering that some missions can be completed in a couple minutes, twenty just isn't enough. To make matters worse, there really isn't much to do in Wreckless besides the missions. No option to just drive around the areas without the time limit. No straight up demolition derby feature. The game lacks depth, and after you finish the missions, you're probably not going to want to pick the controller up and do it all over again.

After all is said and done, Wreckless remains an entertaining game. But, the lack of other play options beside the missions really limits the game, and keeps it from becoming an extended gaming experience. In short, Wreckless is a fun piece of graphical fluff that will keep you entertained until its abrupt end. Rating 7 out of 10.

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Xbox version of the game.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions – Second Opinion

Wreckless reminds me of lesser Saturday Night Live spin-off movies like Meet Pat and Stuart Saves His Family. Often, what makes for a humorous gag in small doses lacks the depth to sustain itself for a full-length feature. Wreckless is like the driving sequences from Grand Theft Auto III, disembodied and turned into a gimmicky full-length game. While that is admittedly over simplifying things a bit, Wreckless is proof that some concepts have their limits.

Im not familiar with the Yakuza the way Jeremy is, but as he pointed out its a negligible detail. The Yakuza are used merely as a colorful backdrop rather than an influential plot device. Not that such shallowness is completely bad; Wreckless doesnt really even try to tell much of a story. Its clear from the start that any references to characters or plot are merely filler for the action, which is most reminiscent of outlandish driving games like Twisted Metal and Crazy Taxi. Its not boring, and in fact the gameplay maintains a frantic pace rather effectively. But play this one for long, and the limits of making a complete game out of the concept of driving around and smashing stuff starts to wear on the excitement.

In particular, a few structural flaws really hurt the game. Certain missions will be identical in practicei.e., smashing into carsbut attempt to mask this redundancy with objective-oriented gimmicks. In one early mission, you are required to simply smash into cars to destroy them. In another, you are supposed to gather "plates"by smashing into cars, of course. The game also lacks a decent navigation system. Often, I ended up ramming into a building because the cursor that marks my target would show through the building and I would accelerate, expecting a straight road to my target. The wildly fluctuating difficulty of the game makes frequent restarts a must and kills the tension of the game. Coupled with a time limit on many of the missions, Wreckless could quickly fluctuate between enjoyable romp and real test of patience.

There are a handful of redeeming qualities, however. Japan serves as an exciting backdrop to the action, and there can be a real sense of urgency and chaos, especially with the traffic set on "heavy." Some of the aforementioned platform elements play out effectively, such as a mission in which youre required to repeatedly leap off of natural ramps to smash into explosives on the back of an oversized dump truck. Wreckless is also easy on the eyes. The entire game has a bit of a low-resolution, blurry look to it, but there are some really eye-catching particle and lighting effects. The visual panache is all the more effective when traffic is really congested, leaving even more random objects to demolish. There is certainly some interesting stuff, but much like the skits on Saturday Night Live, the fundamental concept is too simplistic to be anything more than a divertive gag.

Wreckless makes for a decent ride while it lasts, but even though the developers have done an admittedly thorough job of exploiting the concept, it just doesnt have enough substance to warrant extended play. Leave the car smashing to driving games or free-roaming games like Grand Theft Auto III. The formula is enjoyable in small doses, but its hardly worthy of a full-length game. Rating: 5

Disclaimer: This review is based on the Xbox version of the game.

Wreckless: The Yakuza Missions – Consumer Guide

According to ESRB, this game contains: Violence

Parents should watch out for the mild violence in the game—mainly exploding cars and extreme car crashes. The pedestrians are not targets, and there is no blood or gore in the game, so I would say it's great fun for all ages.

Racing fans beware; Wreckless may seem like a car racing game, but you'll be spending more time crashing up the cars then driving them around.

Fans of mission based driving games will enjoy Wreckless, but even they will be turned off by the lack of replay value. Although I would advise against purchasing the game because of its shallowness, Wreckless does make the perfect rental. Great for a fun weekend.