Just like out on the track, driving simulation games have for the most part taken on a serious tone to try and gain an advantage over their competitors. Series like Forza, F1, Grid, Need For Speed, Gran Turismo, Project Cars, iRacing and more have tried to provide realistic tracks, customization options, and multiplayer matches presented at breakneck speeds to try and stay a car length ahead of its nearest rival. The newest addition to the driving genre, Wreckfest (Bugbear Entertainment, THQ Nordic, MSRP $39.99) has arrived and it’s bringing with it a say in this race by smashing into the side of this group full-force with a destructive derby attitude.
The game itself is a standard mix for driving games, with a career mode along with multiplayer and custom event options. Wreckfest also has a garage that gives players the choice to buy, upgrade, paint or tune the setup of either new or existing vehicles in the player’s livery. On the surface, nothing is out of the ordinary experienced racers haven’t seen until now from racing games. But like with cars in real life, it’s what’s under the hood that counts.
If you have dabbled frequently into your share of racing games, you might be familiar with Bugbear Entertainment. Their previous works have included games like Rally Trophy, Tough Trucks, Sega Rally Evo, and Ridge Racer Unbounded. But it’s their work on the Flatout series and its craziness that the developer is best known for. The studio was to have been working on a similar game Stuntfest, but it was unfortunately canceled by parent company THQ Nordic. Presumably, because so much of it was instilled into Wreckfest‘s final product. It’s the experience with all these games that have helped transform Wreckfest into a racing/stunt driving/destruction derby hybrid as drivers need to prepare themselves for destruction, tight racing and mayhem, and not necessarily in that order.
Career mode takes the gamer on a journey through five different levels of gameplay (Regional Juniors, National Amateurs, Challengers, Pro Internationals, and World Masters), each with its own varying class competitions and challenges. How you navigate through each of these levels is the gamer‘s choice. Care to bang your way through some destruction derbies to get your smashing skills up to par? No problem. Looking to forge your way to the top of the leader board in a variety of races to test your driving proficiency? Wreckfest can handle that too as Career mode provides a pathway for both.
Although competing in a mix of the two is needed in order to complete each level but while a standard racing game throws different vehicle classes that blend in with the familiar automakers, this game does that but adds in interesting (and sometimes even more fun) options like dueling semis, lawnmowers, school buses, recreational vehicles, and even a motorized couch. And like so many in this genre, your trek through Career Mode will be earning experience points (XP) through victories, inflicting damage, performing stunts, and completing challenges that will unlock needed bonus parts and upgrades which will help your progression even further.
A single-player experience not your cup of tea? Then head over to the menu where a fun multiplayer experience can be had. Ever had an experience where one racer tries to ruin it all and crash the field? Well, this is the opportunity to be that racer and still charge ahead to victory, all at the same time. The excitement begins for you and up to 16 players when you jump into a quick match taking you to the first available option or are seeking something more specific by joining racing (races with a destructive edge only), mixed (races that blend the stunt, derby and racing options together), destruction derby or specialized options.
The multiplayer is fast and frantic with short, but fun excursions designed to keep things competitive. The more you understand how best to adapt and quickly tune your vehicle, the easier it is to stay up in front. This and also freeing yourself from the mayhem that inevitably occurs in the middle of the pack.
Once you have built up the upgrades and XP’s, head on over to the garage to build the destructive car of your dreams. Paint schemes, body types and parts can be added are not quite as in-depth as some of its racing video game brethren. But Wreckfest still has enough fine-tuning capabilities and tools to give your cars the desired look and performance. The end result should bring satisfying results to your vehicles in Career and Multiplayer modes. That is until the vehicle of choice gets smashed up on whatever stage you choose next.
For those addicted to racing simulations, the limited options may not have them coming back for too long. Couple this with a soundtrack of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Hard Rock and Heavy Metal that is wildly hit and miss that will consist of most completely shutting it off altogether. The game, in addition, could use more gamers (24 or more would truly up the fun stakes) and include a wider diversity in its available vehicles and tracks. Both its Career Mode and Multiplayer, that will hopefully be solved with free and paid downloadable content (which DLC is on the way for purchase separately, or by purchasing the $59.99 Deluxe Edition) in the near future.
One last point to note is a clever way to approach through destruction derbies, driving in reverse, is hampered with a slow-reacting camera. This makes it harder to gauge how much damage you can apply to an oncoming opponent. While these nit-picks prevent the game from racing perfection, it still provides gamers with an entertaining time. Wreckfest still excels with its close-quarters driving, fun-filled chaos and destruction. Its flair for throwing in stunts, quirky vehicles, and challenges keeps things fresh in short bursts by yourself or with friends a truly rousing good time.
On the surface, Wreckfest doesn’t achieve anything new to expand the driving genre with its limited career, multiplayer and garage detailing options. But once you get out onto the track, Wreckfest shines with a fun experience anyone can get into and damage modeling that’s second to none. “Rev up” your engines because Wreckfest provides gamers with a truly “crashing” experience.
(Please note that for this review, Pop Culture Cosmos/Game Source did receive a review code/model/sample from the company/developer/public relations firm responsible for distribution to the press.)