Beam Breakers Review
Beam Breakers is set about 150 years in the future in the city of Neo York. Flying cars move through concrete canyons in a steady stream of traffic - if you've ever seen the move The Fifth Element, then you get the picture. Illegal street (air?) racers weave in and out of traffic as they compete to be the fastest thing on air. These racers are the beam breakers.
Beam Breakers can be played in several modes: mission, championship, and survival. Mission mode follows your career as a driver in the Neo York mob. The game boasts that the mission mode is a 57 mission campaign, but this is deceiving. First, there is not really much of a story tying the missions together, you really just move from one mission briefing to another. Second, there are really only five types of missions: theft, destruction, chase, race, and the always popular pizza delivery. In theft missions you must steal a car and return it to a safe location. Stealing a car involves parking your car in a highlighted spot, at which point you will be transferred to the new car. Destruction requires you to crash through designated objects, and in Chase you must crash into a designated vehicle. In pizza delivery, you must drive around town and shoot pizzas at designated targets. The lack of variety is bad enough in and of itself, but the worst part of the campaign is that the missions aren't all that exciting. Few people will have the stamina to subject themselves to 57 repetitions of this.
The championship and survival modes fare a little better, primarily because the game looks really good at first. The traffic flows at a steady rate and cars jostle for position just as today's ground bound cars do. It's fun to fly your car into oncoming traffic and watch the cars flash their beams, honk their horns, and maneuver to avoid your car. There are also a lot of environmental objects in the game, including signs, billboards, and streetlights. People walk across pedestrian causeways, or dine at tables in sidewalk cafes. It all looks pretty good, but after playing for a while you'll find that there is not really much variety to Neo York. Different neighborhoods look pretty much the same, and there is not really any character to any of them.
The races don't fare much better than the missions. Race courses are marked with a translucent tunnel that shows you the ideal route to take between the different checkpoints, although it's not like you really have any choice as to the route you take. The traffic stays to the same plane, so you never have to cross traffic or weave around the cars. This is a shame because it would have added to the game's enjoyment and challenge, especially considering that the AI does not provide much of a challenge itself.
The computer-controlled racers pretty much stick to the suggested course route and maneuver like they are riding a rail. They'll completely ignore the various power-ups that appear on the course (the power-ups aren't really anything special, so perhaps that's why they're ignored), and don't do anything to pass or block you during the race. To make things worse, each racer has a static picture and a portfolio of three (or less) taunts that constantly pop up as you near one of their cars. The voice-acting is so poor, that half of these are completely unintelligible.
Also missing from the game is any real sense of speed. The speedometer will show you speeding along at 150 mph, but it will feel and look the same as it does when you are going 40. This is disappointing as screaming through narrow streets filled with traffic at over 100 mph should certainly give you a feeling of exhilaration while putting your reflexes to the test. You'll spend each race with the accelerator key floored and leave it that way for the entire race.
It appears that the developers spent all of their time in creating the city and traffic, and the AI and gameplay took a back seat. However, most people buy games to play them (and have fun doing so) and not to look at interesting science fiction scenes. It's hard to imagine this game keeping anybody's interest for too long, or even remaining on their hard drive.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 50%. It looks good at first, but quickly becomes repetitive and boring.
System Requirements: Pentium II 400; 64 MB RAM; 16 MB Video RAM; 4x CD-ROM; 500 MB Hard Drive Space; Mouse.