Game Over Online ~ Breakneck: NICE 2

GameOver Game Reviews - Breakneck: NICE 2 (c) THQ, Reviewed by - Jube

Game & Publisher Breakneck: NICE 2 (c) THQ
System Requirements Pentium 133, 24MB Ram, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 60%
Date Published Wednesday, June 23rd, 1999 at 07:48 PM

Divider Left By: Jube Divider Right

I tried to give Breakneck a higher score, I really did. Underneath the flaws is an entertaining and worthwhile racing game. During testing I enjoyed the “tongue-in-cheek” which is displayed throughout the game. Like its predecessor NICE 2 does not take itself too seriously. Matching 250CC go-karts, Formula 1 racers and monster trucks, Breakneck is (needless to say) a unique racing experience. It is extremely unfortunate that NICE 2 is so poorly done. Whereas a funny, creative and involved racing game could have been is destroyed by a terrible menu system, random crashes and less than an hour of replay value.

Breakneck, like NICE 1, has put deep stock into its graphics engine. The car models and courses are rendered crisp and detailed. Damage modeling and reflective surfaces are just two of the many visual enhancements. However once you get past the initial “Nice” graphical features the unfinished and mediocre underbelly of NICE 2 shows through. Probably the worst of these flaws is the terrible pixilization on the tree and cockpit models. Steering wheels, track-side details and branches are jagged and discolored. Also there is only three modes of view: ground level, in-car and above. Synetic certainly should know better than to skimp on view modes.

The voice of Eddi, your mechanic and pit crew will give helpful and interesting assessments of the current race. Some of my favorite one liners are: “Hey do you have the wrong tires on? Why do you always drive like shit?” and “You’re driving pretty good, for my grandma.” The rough english and heavy sarcasm work well in the whole structure of the game. The off track sounds, ranging from chirping birds, cheering crowds and sitar music all help “sell” the atmosphere of each of the tracks. I was unhappy with the engine sound. When letting off the gas all vehicles will switch into a something-must-be-dragging-underneath-the-car clip that gets annoying very quickly. Also, more effort could have been made to change the tire/surface contact sound. Racing over sand, asphalt, cobblestones and water all produce the same “road” sound. Though not a major issue, this lack of attention to detail in the sound is echoed throughout the entire game.

Gameplay is spilt up into two separate segments, Arcade and Standard, which are run from two separate executables. The arcade mode works fine, you can race single and circuits against up to 16 other cars. You have your choice of also racing against the clock on your own and replaying best laps. The best part of the arcade is the access to all the cars and tracks. Rather than forcing a player to unlock the 30+ cars and 15+ courses arcade lets the gamer pick and choose. For those gamers who like to earn access to their games there is the extremely buggy and overly complex Standard mode. In standard a player can compete in full race circuits, obtain a contract to race with a sponsorship and play a strange deathmatch mode which allows you to blow up the other cars on the field with a number of weapons and armaments. “Cool,” you are thinking, “this sounds cool, why so low on the score then?”

Well, why not let the game designers explain it:

Es Ist Eine Ausnamesituation Entsanden
Grund: Unbkant
Stelle: Unbkant
In Source: Unbkant

Roughly translated this means:


I was able to view this message more times than I actually played the standard mode. Another reviewer speculated that perhaps this was the actual game. Wading through numerous unnecessarily complex menus to only have the game lock up or crash completely is not my idea of fun. Maybe it is for Germans, I am not sure. Perhaps this is simply a cruel joke by the sadistic designers at Synetic. I have better things to do than reinstall DirectX 5.0 (as recommended by the readme.txt) and try again. So, unfortunately I wasn’t able to play all the exciting stuff in standard. I played arcade mode instead. I raced a go-kart around one of the F1 courses. Vroom, vroom.

Proof that lots of variety in cars and tracks cannot automatically equal success, Breakneck needs some heavy work at the shop. NICE 2 is a clunky and simplistic racing game. Its lacking in so many areas I cannot bring myself to recommend it to anyone, except perhaps go-cart racers. In the extremely cutthroat world of computer gaming that is it is refreshing to see a title that is willing to laugh at itself a little. I wish we gave points for piety. But we don’t.

Note: This review was based on the UK version of Breakneck which is available in stores now. The US version will not be released until the Fall.


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