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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: February 14, 2003
What would it be like if all of us could fly our commuter vehicles in the air, relieving the escalating congestion on modern city streets? Some may remember a preview of this in The Fifth Element, Luc Besson’s 1997 science-fiction film in which there was a remarkable high-speed chase through the aerial roadways of a futuristic New York City. Apparently inspired by these cinematic origins, along with similar preceding computer game releases such as Midas Interactive’s B-Hunter and Psygnosis’ G-Police, German developer Similis has created Beam Breakers, a racing experience set high above the ground in a city transformed by as yet emerging technology.
The story places you in the futuristic Neo-York City in 2173. As you look up you see scads of anti-gravity cars racing around on light beams which serve as transportation routes around the metropolis. You play the role of a pizza delivery boy, part of a group of street racers who ignore the law, and you strive to rise in the ranks of the criminal world. To succeed you must simultaneously elude the police and keep five notorious rival gangs – each of which want hegemonic dominance of the city – at bay. Defying death and executing dangerous maneuvers in the air, you have a huge challenge on your hands.
There are several different gameplay modes in Beam Breakers. Mission mode has you perform various jobs for your employer in 57 missions. Championship mode is an urban racing circuit where you compete against four other vehicles in 30 races, hitting checkpoints at various spots in the city. Survival mode has you fleeing from the police in one of six neighborhoods, testing how long you can go without getting arrested. Finally, Observation mode allows you to explore and poke around in each sector of the metropolis with no fear of getting caught and with no pressure of time. The highlights of this offering are clearly the Mission and Championship modes, and the rest frankly seem to be largely window dressing.
Mission mode consists of six chapters and has you begin with trivial tasks; then work your way up to be able to undertake more sinister and nefarious major gang-related activities. There are Pizza Cab, Theft, Destruction, and Chasing missions: the specific goals include delivering pizzas, smashing or stealing other drivers’ vehicles, destroying competing businesses such as restaurants, and chasing down, fighting, and defending territory against rival gangs, all the while avoiding the police. The initial jobs are purposely simple so as to give you the opportunity to learn how to navigate around effectively in the city. As you succeed in your missions, you are rewarded by more powerful cars and better accessories such as navigation systems and turbo boosters. So my enjoyment turned out to be higher in the later missions where I faced greater complexity and had better equipment.
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