Review: Wreckless

Wreckless was originally an Xbox exclusive title that sold well, thanks to its stunning graphics and destructive nature, but certainly no thanks to its distinctively average gameplay. Activision brought in Stealth Studios to port the game to both the GameCube and the PS2, is it improved?


A difficult area to approach. Judging the game purely on its own, you get a good looking experience. Textures are crisp, it runs at a rock solid 60fps and the sheer amount of objects on screen at any one time is very impressive. Stand it next to the Xbox original though, and the difference is obvious. The majority of graphical effects that sold the original are gone. Detail isn't needed, but sufficed to say, it's far less shiny than its older brother. There shouldn't be any reason for this, the GameCube could surely pull off the graphics of the original, but for some reason, they haven't chosen to do so. Perhaps it's because the game is also on PS2, meaning the GameCube version would be a slight update of it and no more, who knows. The game is by no means ugly, it's very crisp and has a great style, but the tune down is disappointing.


The soundtrack is satisfactory, never making itself known through either brilliance or irritation. The voice overs are of a good quality, with the humour in the spy story coming across very well. The sound effects are particularly good, with smashes and explosions making destruction even more satisfying than it would have been anyway.

Gameplay and playability:

The premise of the game is destruction, set over two storylines and 40 missions, you will be destroying things, smashing into things, or collecting things, with some destruction thrown in for good measure. Both storylines are available from the beginning, following either the Dragons, a pair of female cops, or Chang and Ho, a pair of incompetent spies. Either way, you will be gunning for the Yakuza and ultimately, the head of the organisation. Story is of little significance in either setting, and is infrequently progressed through some awfully compressed FMVs. The game includes a fair share of light humour, and the spy story in particular can prove to be quite amusing, something which you will be thankful for after the frustrating missions.

Stealth Studios appear to have added a lot to the port; though in reality the changes made don't affect the gameplay significantly. There are more cars you won't use, more levels you probably won't want to do, a fairly pointless free roam mode you probably won't reach and a couple of gameplay additions. These take the form of rockets and slow motion, hitting the right shoulder button triggers your generic bullet time, you can only use it 3 times per mission, and will never need it anyway. The rockets are more useful, but do little damage and are in short supply; your vehicle's front end will still be your main weapon.

The controls are suitably arcade like, but the cars often feel too light, they easily tip over and have some incredible bounce when braking. Once mastered, however, the controls can prove to be fun, if not deep. The missions themselves mirror this attitude, on the surface they look varied and interesting, but you soon figure out that "deactivating the bombs", "getting the plutonium from the dump trucks" and "collect the dynamite" are all just fancy ways of telling you to drive into things.

Frustration is high when playing Wreckless, time limits are short, and the arrow is useless when it points through a brick wall, controls can be awkward and traffic is dense and irritating, never feeling the need to move out of the way of the large truck heading down the wrong lane. The AI (artificial intelligence) is idiotic, occasionally downright annoying, traffic doesn't respond to your presence, and whoever hired the Yakuza drivers needs some help. One mission has you fighting numerous waves of Yakuza cars in arena style fights. Potentially entertaining, it is let down by the poor AI. Driving to the edge and spinning round to get a run up, I found the Yakuza cars following right behind me, and promptly smashing straight into the wall. Another mission drops you in a race around the streets of Hong Kong, where, if you drop back a little, you can clearly see that the AI is programmed to drive from side to side, with the sole purpose of getting in your way.

On the plus side, there's a lot to do. The original was quite extensive, and the addition of sub missions (usually consisting of whacking a certain number of objects) and all new bonus missions give the game a decent lifespan. Driving through stuff is entertaining, for a while at least, and you are never in short supply of things to destroy. Also, as previously mentioned, if you try really hard, you can convince yourself that the missions are varied.

There's also a two player game not found in the Xbox version, and Xbox owners should be all the more pleased for it. Failing to see the advantages of this new and confusing "split screen" technology, you find both players on the same screen, with neither being able to control their car. Really, don't even bother trying it unless you are drunk.

Final say:

Overall then, a decidedly average arcade action racer. If you enjoy it you will get a lot out of it, there's a lot to do and it's a challenging game. But without the sublime graphics it should have, and being released a lot later, with so many quality games asking for your cash, its flaws shine through like they never did before. If you really must play it, I advise a rental before you stick down all your money. Chances are you will get all the enjoyment you can before it has to go back.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Less fun than it could have been, too many flaws to make it worth the price of admission

  • Gameplay3
  • Playability3
  • Visuals4
  • Audio4
  • Lifespan4
Final Score



Lots to do
Satisfyingly destructive
Some good humour


Odd physics

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