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Reviewed: BreakNeck
Author: Chris Kim       Date: August 18th, 2000
Page: 2

We originally took a look at BreakNeck back in June with our preview of the game. We had received a pre-release version of the game and now we have the full-boxed version. What has changed since then? Well, not a whole lot, but there are a few bug fixes here and there that make the game slightly more enjoyable since the game doesn't crash. The gameplay and design remains unchanged, however. All the good things and bad things are still there (although the good easily outweigh the bad) and it is still extremely fun to play. What did Synetic set out to do when they designed this game? It was a goal of combining fun racing action with the new element of weapons adding to the strategic fight. Does it add up?

On the surface, it seems that BreakNeck is a very shallow game. While this is true to some extent, it has some of the makings of a hardcore racing simulation (while not in the physics or game approach). BreakNeck features a commentator named EDDI, a sort of helper or aid in the game that will help make various decisions and drop hints. After a while, he gets extremely annoying and tedious, so thankfully, the player has the option of turning him off. What makes the game a simulation are two distinct physics modes, although neither are real competition towards any of the hardcore racing simulations. The more simulation geared physics mode does a decent job at recreating some of the realistic situations cars will face. There are also game modes dubbed arcade and expert, one just offers a championship mode while the other lets the player just race without any of that setup. Gameplay primarily falls back on two elements: neck breaking speed and weapons.

Through the Trees
Spin Out
Get Off Me!

The biggest feature about BreakNeck is the blinding speed that the game runs in. Thankfully, this is a good thing because the sensation of speed and how much the player feels is true. The sense of speed that the cars go at actually feels fast compared to some other games. This is mostly impart due to an excellent graphics engine that moves everything along at a fast and consistent frame rate. Trees and objects will zoom by with a big blur in the area, backdrops seem to shift in perspective, all adding to the realism of speed. Although there is a problem with how much the speed is felt. On certain cars, going 140MPH seems slower than going 130MPH in a faster car. While this might not be a huge problem, there are a few discrepancies when driving certain cars. Still, the rush of speed is exhilarating and much more exciting than most other racing games on the market.

Another highly advertised feature is the amount of cars that the player can choose to drive. There are a good forty or so in the game from various different classes, each that handle in distinct manners. While the handling characteristics from car to car in the same class vary only slightly, from class to class, they can be skewed so differently, it might not even feel like the same game. In the premium class, the player could drive a blazing fast 200MPH car while the next race, he is driving a big bus. The way they handle is extremely different and highly entertaining to drive. This gives the game high replay value, just to mess around with the various cars the game offers.

Monster Truck Madness?
Missile Attack
Shadow Lands

One of the best features of the game also turns out to be one of its weakest. What is good about the game is the wide range of tracks there are and how they can be modified and played in different fashions. All the tracks can be mirrored and reversed with their lighting and weather effects changed in anyway to vary the gameplay up. This creates for a lot of variation and fun. The design of the tracks is solid and the wide-ranging style of turns and maneuvers required to venture around the tracks is highly entertaining. The problem with the tracks, however, is the lack of side roads and shortcuts--there are none! The problem is that all of the tracks are extremely linear, not allowing any different paths to be taken. While this is not a problem in a game like this, it slightly limits the creativity of the driver.

Weapons add a lot of variation to the game. They certainly add a lot of flavor and uniqueness to the game. Weapons range from the lowly peashooter to the heatseeking missile. The various weapons all have their inherit strengths and weaknesses, all for a balanced arsenal. Unlike games like Twisted Metal, BreakNeck's deathmatch doesn't involve placing the cars in an arena, but on a regular race track where players just blast each other away in the narrow confines of a two-way street (or wider). While this might seem problematic at first, this claustrophobic tightness allows for more creativity and unique battles to occur.

No, Not Test Drive 6!
Together Now

With all the makings of an arcade game, what does the expert game feature? Basically, it offers the choice between a "simulation" and "arcade" physics model, which slightly differentiates between the two. In the arcade mode, cars basically are free to roam without much holding the cars back in terms of speed or acceleration. They can get launched further and with less difficulty landing while in the "simulation" mode, cars have far less acceleration and have a harder time reaching their top speed. The expert mode also has a very robust (although not quite a full simulation game's quality) championship mode with full sponsorships, placement rankings, race planning, and all the other championship facets.

Also so inherit with the game is the diversity of the gameplay modes, they include: single race, championship, foxhunt, and deathmatch. Single race and championship modes are quite self-explanatory as is the deathmatch mode. Only difference between the deathmatch mode and other games where cars battle is that instead of the arena, it's a regular racetrack. Foxhunt is a little more unique in terms of playability compared to other modes, it is basically where a single car gets a ten second lead ahead of everyone else and then someone in the pack tries to catch-up to that "fox" and take over the lead. It's a bit like a tag, you're it type of mode that is entertaining for a while, although it can be a tad frustrating.

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Added:  Friday, August 18, 2000
Reviewer:  Chris Kim
Page: 2/5

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