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
Well, why not let the game designers explain it:
Es Ist Eine Ausnamesituation Entsanden
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
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.