By Dean Moses
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Rating: T for Teens
Burning rubber. Screeching tires. Roaring Engines. Rolling, crashing shrapnel. This is Wreckfest, a white-knuckle racer with a focus on good, old-fashioned destruction.
No Story No Problem
Let me start off with somewhat of a disclaimer: I am not a racing game fan. The forced perspective of always being behind the wheel, never being able to step outside from the confines of whichever
automobile you may find yourself driving. To me, this makes the gameplay feel restricting—and whizzing around a spherical track often only adds to the tedium. The only racing video game that ever captured my imagination were the likes of the Burnout series. But why is my aversion to the genre relevant to this review? Well, because it speaks to how fantastic Wreckfest is; how incredible it must be if I am able to have so much fun with the game despite my lack of interest in its contemporaries. I also like games with a good story, if you are like me in that regard, I am afraid you are out of luck since there is absolutely no narrative to speak of. Thankfully, this does little to taint the already great experience. In-stead, the developers focused all of their efforts on the gameplay.
Smash Bash Crash
Wreckfest is not just about racing to the finish line, it is also about destroying your opponents. The game employs an advanced physics system, meaning that when two or more cars collide the appropriate damage is dealt, sending pieces of metal flying across the track and /or leaving your racecar as a trashcan on wheels. This physics engine is put to great use through the career mode. Despite not having a storyline to follow, you do, indeed, have to achieve an objective. Career mode has five championships to complete with their own sets of events, and in order to complete a championship you must reach a set score. Events range from simple races to destruction derby-style outings in which you must ram, smash, bash, and crash your fellow drivers until their engines sputter nothing but smoke. There are also fun themed racers like one where you drive a school bus and must wreck eight tiny cars as they race one another. This cat and mouse game makes you feel powerful, that is until later in the game when the tables are turned and you are the one on the run from a whole race filled with school buses. No matter how fun the single player is—and it is fun—it can’t compare to jumping into an online multiplayer match with friends. There is nothing like shunting a buddy off the track or laughing as they are sent flipping through the air by one hell of a collision. You will be begging your online crew for “one more race” and then another and another.
The Glory of Carnage
Driving along the tarmac as the setting sun leaves its orange glow on the road ahead and onlookers cheer for you is aesthetically pleasing. Tire tracks are left in the mud and wooden fences are strewn across your path when they are hit, and even remain there laps later. The attention to detail here is astounding, especially since this is essentially a budget title at only $39.99. The greatest graphical feat, however, is the destruction itself. Developer Bugbear Entertainment rendered broken hoods, bent bumpers, dilapidated doors, and smashed windows in beautiful realism: the glory of carnage. The only downfall in the graphical department is the drivers themselves. The helmet wearing motorists look too rigged, appearing more like crash test dummies than living, breathing humans.
Wreckfest does not try to tell any sweeping tales with deep metaphors, it likewise does not punish players with hard difficulty modes. Instead, it focuses on pure fun, something many games seem to forget these days.