Those Of You familiar with pretentious Luc Besson sci-fi flick The Fifth Element will be instantly at home with the world of Beam Breakers. Set in the far off future (2374 to be precise), you find yourself in the role of a taxi-cab driver (like Bruce Willis only poorer, more out of shape and considerably less attractive to women) flying round skyscrapers of New York in your gravity defying vehicle. I know, you think you've seen this all before, right? Well before you turn over the page in disgust, spitting hatred at Beam Breaker's apparent lack of originality, suck back the venom and take a deep breath, because there's much more on offer here than you might think. Calmer now? Good.
Floating In The Hood
Initial impressions inevitably bring you to the conclusion that this is little more than a simple hover-car racer, set in a congested and hideously oversized futuristic city. Squint violently and move closer to the screen, though, and you'll soon find that this is merely one branch of Beam Breakers' gameplay tree. Initially charged with driving around the sprawling metropolis of New York in your sewing machine powered vehicle, you'll find yourself happily chugging round, picking up passengers and earning a meagre wage barely adequate enough to power your car and house your shuffling body. Until that is, a gang leader from Little Italy (where else) flops into your cab, and squeals in an unconvincing Mafioso accent that he can lead you away from this endless drone of mundanity and poverty into a world of excitement, and more importantly, hard cash. Being a weak willed and of course poverty stricken less-than-model-citizen, you instantly agree to all his terms, and generous bloke that he is, he instantly charges you with the task of stealing a car and bringing it back to him while avoiding a kicking from the local constabulary. Easy.
Of course it's not, but that's the point. Before long you'll find yourself embroiled in a gang-warfare type scenario, where five factions battle it out among each other for territory and respect. These are gained in several ways, one method being through a set of daring, law-breaking races, whereby the winner takes both the cars and the territory from his defeated opponents. But of course you're never going to get anywhere chugging round in a steam powered heap of junk, meaning you'll have to find an alternative source of income in order to buy an upgrade, and running errands for your new found Italian-American friends turns out to be by far the most profitable of your options. Cue daring car napping raids, destruction missions and decoy runs to distract the infuriatingly persistent police, who try to force you into tight corners in an attempt to dash your vehicle and send you plummeting a thousand stories to the concrete below. The bastards. If this all sounds a little dangerous, you'll apparently also be given the chance to wuss out and deliver pizzas like a complete jessie instead, and become the laughing stock of self-respecting gangsters the world-over. It'll be your choice.
However, you're probably impatiently drumming your fingers on the toilet rim by now waiting for me to tell you about the races. So I will. Once you're used to the controls (accelerate, break, pitch left/right, up and down) you're thrown into your debut race. Sadly, though, the first thing that strgck me was how slow the action is initially, despite the fact that precision is key as you zigzag up, down and through oncoming traffic (more than 1,000 cars onscreen at a time are promised on higher-spec machines) trying to gain an advantage. Exotically named (but actually very basic) power ups do help the situation though. These include Photon Accelerators (speeds you up a bit) and centrifugal Force Modulators (makes steering easier). Although the preview version didn't allow access to some of the more advanced vehicles, the finished version promises to feature 30 vehicle types, and hopefully the more advanced ones will speed up the action considerably.
Break It Up
Expect your cheating-git opponents to spend each race cutting corners, ducking down alleys and generally trying to push you into walls, as you battle the initially cross-eye inducing 3D scenery in a desperate attempt to keep up. But with 57 missions promised, you're bound to have the hang of it by the time you reach the final race, which the developer Similis is promising will provide a grand finale.
Beam Breakers is threatening to be highly entertaining, melding both racing mayhem (if the later levels are faster than the early ones we've played that is) with manic delinquent thievery. A kind of floating Crazy Taxi if you will. Or even if you don't will. Still, we'll bring you the definitive review next issue, but in the meantime, have a squiz on this month's coverdisk(s) and get acquainted with the demo. Go on then, what are you waiting for?
Download Beam Breakers
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP