While the triumvirate of Dead or Alive 3, Halo and Project Gotham Racing got most of the attention at the Xperience press event in London last week, the other title which really caught our eye was hidden away in a dark corner at the back of the venue. Step forward Wreckless.
One of the first Xbox exclusive titles to emerge from the far east, Wreckless is a wild mission-based driving game set in Hong Kong which sees you battling the powerful Japanese yakuza. As part of an elite police unit it is up to you to put an end to their growth, a task which you apparently accomplish by driving through the crowded city streets like a madman. The result is awe-inspiring motorised mayhem, with pedestrians scattering in panic as you pile through fences, phone boxes and fast food stalls, and cars being punted off the road in all directions. Crashes are truly spectacular, and vehicle bodywork is realistically deformed as you plough through the rush hour traffic, with pieces of debris and entire cars being thrown into the air in massive pile-ups. You can even tip over buses, trucks and trams, resulting in still more chaos. The level of detail in which the city is modelled is equally impressive, from the narrow inner city streets festooned with banners and Chinese shop signs to packed marketplaces and towering skyscrapers. The whole thing runs smoothly even during the most unbelievable collisions, and even the venue's dodgy LCD screens couldn't hide the fact that the game looks every bit as beautiful in motion as it does in the screenshots.
Sadly only one mission was on offer in the demo version of the game, but what a corker it was, putting you behind the wheel of a bizarre looking car which seemed to have escaped from Back To The Future and tasking you with running a quartet of sleek black sedans off the road as they in turn nudged an armoured van along the bustling streets. A total of twenty missions should be available in the final game, ranging from rescuing trapped police officers to clearing a path for a hijacked bus. These are split into two seperate storylines, one putting you in the front line as a police force specialist battling the yakuza, the other taking you undercover as a government agent trying to uncover corruption within the Hong Kong police force. If the rest of the game can maintain the sheer pace and manic action evident in the demo, Wreckless should be well worth a closer look when Activision bring it to the west some time early next year. It's not the most sophisticated of games, but it's certainly a lot of fun. And that's just what the Xbox needs.