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ups: Amazing graphics; tight controls; lots of modes.
downs: Missions can become repetitive; sound isn't as refined as the graphics.

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Beam Breakers Review
game: Beam Breakers
three star
posted by: Eric Qualls
publisher: JoWood Productions
developer: Similis
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date posted: 09:10 AM Sun Dec 22nd, 2002

Beam Breakers is one of the most pleasant surprises I have gotten all year. The graphics are simply stunning and really draw you into the game. The gameplay in Beam Breakers is a futuristic representation of the \"criminal in a huge city\" genre that has become en vogue lately. You'll fight rival gangs, destroy competing businesses, and run from the cops in 57 missions that are definitely reminiscent of the Grand Theft Auto and Driver series. This time, however, the vehicles of choice are hover cars. It is pretty clear that Beam Breakers isn't the most original game, but it is still a fun game that is worth checking out if you're into racing or pretending you're in the mob.

Beam Breakers takes place in a futuristic New York City that has been renamed Neo York City (Neo York means future New York and City means city). The city is broken up into five different sections such as Chinatown and Little Italy. Each section of the city is fairly large and is filled with thousands of other hover cars that make up layer upon layer of traffic.

There are several modes in Beam Breakers, but some are better than others. Missions involve doing everything from delivering pizzas to stealing other hovercraft. Championship is a straight racing mode and is probably the most fun of all of the modes in Beam Breakers. Survival mode pits you against the police of Neo York and you have to try and survive as long as possible. To put it simply, this mode sucks because it doesn't really have a point and the police are tenacious bastards and beat you down rather quickly. Observation mode allows you to explore each section of the city without worrying about the police or dealing with a time limit. There is also a multiplayer mode available.

You start the Mission mode out as a pizza delivery boy and eventually you work your way up to missions that are or higher priority to your crime boss. The pizza missions are simple affairs that require you to shoot pizzas into big glowing icons and aren't ever too difficult. In Theft missions, it is your job to locate and steal a car from a rival gang. It isn't anything like in GTA where you can enter and exit vehicles at will, however, and instead consists of simply reaching a certain area and then getting into the new car automatically. Destruction missions require you to destroy restaurants and small cafes. Chasing missions are all out hover car combat where you have to chase down and destroy a rival gang member. At the end of each section of the game, you get to race through the skyways of Neo York. Throughout the Mission mode, you will unlock new cars and other goodies such as new navigation systems or improved turbo units that go a long way in helping you win races. Overall, the mission mode is a lot of fun, but because there are only a handful of different mission types, the game can become repetitive. Some of the missions are made difficult due to strict time limits, but overall the game isn't too hard.

The Championship mode is a simple racing circuit that pretty much rocks. When you begin, you have to join one of five gangs and then race under their colors in races to determine who is the dominant force in Neo York City. The races themselves occur right in the thick of traffic and avoiding the hundreds of oncoming vehicles while at the same time making sure you hit every checkpoint is pretty exciting. The path the race follows glows bright green, which makes the races a lot easier to follow, but you can also turn the path off entirely or just have it show up in the corners. The races are a great addition to Beam Breakers, and along with the Mission mode, make up a game that has quite a bit to offer. The other modes are a bit of a disappointment, but Championship and Mission are worth checking out Beam Breakers for.

Controlling your vehicle is possible with the keyboard, but I prefer a gamepad. The cars exist in a 3-D world and the amount of vertical space available for you to play around in is pretty impressive. The cars handle pretty much how you would expect a hover car to, which is sort of floaty, but you never feel like you aren't in control. The cars are very responsive and a heck of a lot of fun to drive, to be perfectly honest. The game handles like a dream.

Graphically, Beam Breakers is gorgeous. The cars you get to play with are nicely detailed, and even the thousands (and I mean thousands) of cars that make up the endless lines of traffic have a surprising amount of detail as well. When you plow your vehicle into the traffic, the other cars will actually make an effort to swerve around you in a fairly convincing manner. The city is also very detailed. Sure, a lot of the buildings look alike, but there are little billboards and signs covering everything and even little texture maps pasted on some of the windows to represent the building interiors. There are little cafes and public areas dotting the landscape as well as tiny little people running around pretty much everywhere. The sunshine is bright and almost blinding at points and the traffic in the nighttime levels looks like brilliantly lit up flowing rivers of light. There is also rain in certain levels and even that manages to impress. The frame rate remains constant all the way through--an amazing feat considering just how much stuff is going on all at once. The system requirements are very reasonable as well. Beam Breakers is a surprisingly detailed game and it looks marvelous.

The sound, on the other hand, is just plain bad. The music is typical \"futuristic music\", i.e. techno raver BS. There aren't really that many sound effects and the sounds you would expect in a busy city are almost nonexistent. Cars honk and your hover car has a simple engine noise, and that's about it. The voice acting in the missions is equally horrible. Why oh why can a game look so good but sound this bad?

Overall, Beam Breakers is a fun racing game with some interesting missions thrown in for those of us who want a peek into the future of crime videogames. The cars control extremely well and it is simply a joy to cruise around the different districts of Neo York City. The graphics are awesome and surprisingly detailed. Some modes aren't as fun as others, and the online multiplayer leaves something to be desired, but Beam Breakers is still worth checking out.

Eric Qualls (12/22/2002)