Ah the racing game genre. Widespread yet somehow incredibly narrow at the same time. I’ve never understood racing games, or sports games in general if I’m honest. Even outside of video games, I don’t understand all the fuss about racing season. To me it seems like an excuse to drive really fast in an overpriced car… And that’s what the racing game genre feels like to me as well.
Racing games are always the same to me; they’re either the go-kart mascot style racing game, like your Mario Kart’s, Crash Team Racing, ModNation, stuff like that… Or they’re your ultra-realistic, boring-as-hell racing sim games like Forza Motorsport, The Crew, or Need for Speed. My point is that I seldom find them fun… But every once in a while, I take a chance with a racer, and find myself delightedly surprised.
Enter Wreckfest, formerly known as ‘Next Car Game’, a demolition derby racer, and my new chill out game for when I need to sit back and let off steam. Don’t expect to find any shiny super cars or souped up Mitsubishi’s and shit like that here, oh no, it’s dents and roll cages all the way!
So, is there a story mode? In short: No, no story at all, but there are several campaigns, each with ten or more events to work your way through with each progressive campaign getting harder and harder. Events range from normal racing, to demolition derbies, to crazy figure eight shenanigans and special events as well, like the lawnmower derbies and sofa car races. You get to race and smash all sorts of vehicles, from little Volkswagen Beetles to station wagons, muscle cars, buses, combine harvesters and more. It is pure high octane insanity, and so Goddamn fun.
The guys behind Wreckfest knew what they were doing, that’s for sure. The game is quite thoughtfully well made and more complex than just ‘drive car into other car’. You can tune your car’s suspension, brakes, cornering, differentials and more before each race, letting you have the responsiveness you want instead of having to get used to the set responsiveness of the cars, like most racing games. Loose gravel surface for this race? Soften up that suspension and brakes a bit. Tight corners? Stiffen up your brakes for more control. You can even customise the AI opponent responses, their aggression, difficulty level and more. You can basically make the game cater to your preferences as much as possible, giving you an overall more controlled experience, which I really appreciated.
But what makes Wreckfest worth your money, over any other demolition racer? The physics. Wreckfest has realistic soft body collision physics, meaning that when you slam into something, your car is gonna look like it’s hurting. T-bone someone and watch them hobble around with a huge dent in their side. Ram someone in the ass and watch them speed off with a mangled back end. The heavier your car, the more weight you’ve got to throw around, and the more damage you’ll do. As your own car gets more banged up you lose responsiveness, busted brakes, damaged wheels, and there goes your turning and cornering! Gearbox damaged? Your top speed suffers. So on and so on.
It is insanely fun and cathartic to slam other cars around like ping pong balls; ramping off one another and flipping and rolling each other, slamming into people at full speed to watch them go tumbling, parts flying off all over the place. It’s glorious!
Now I would say there are niggles or issues, but there really isn’t. The game is designed pretty damn smoothly; the music is fun and appropriate, you can customise your car’s looks, upgrade their performance, and so forth – That way you get to keep using your favourite car throughout the whole game instead of working your way up to the token ‘best car’. You unlock in-game currency just by finishing events, even custom ones you yourself set up for fun. The controls are simple, gameplay is fun, and overall the game is just damn good. It really is.
Wreckfest was initially released on early access as ‘Next Car Game’ and was developed and published by Bugbear Entertainment, with help from THQ Nordic as well. It might be a little old, sure, but it’s well worth checking out, and it’s a damn good game to just kick back and have fun with. I score it
8 / 10
Thanks for reading, and feel free to check out our other content while you’re here! Let me know in the comments what your thoughts on Wreckfest were if you’ve played it, or if I’ve been able to convince you to go it a go!