Ah the racing game genre: it’s widespread, yet narrow at the same time. I’ve never understood racing games, hell, sports games in general – 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 you’re ultra-realistic, boring-as-all-hell racing sim games like Forza, The Crew, or Need for Speed. My point is, that to me, they’re never 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’; I know it’s not new, but it recently came to console, so I snapped it up – I know it only got its full official release a year ago I believe, so it’s still sort of relevant I guess! Wreckfest is a demolition derby racer, and my new mellow out game for when I need to sit back and let off some steam – Don’t expect to find any shiny super cars or supped up Mitsubishi’s and shit like that here, oh no, it’s dents, slurs and roll cages the whole way up.
So is there a story mode? No, no story at all, there are campaigns, several in fact, each with ten or more events to work your way through, with each campaign getting harder and harder – The events range from normal racing, to demolition derbies, to crazy figure eight shenanigans and special events as well, like the lawnmower derbies, or the sofa car races. You get to race and smash all sorts of vehicles, from little Volkswagen beetles to station wagons, to muscle cars, busses, combine harvesters and more. It is pure high octane insanity, and its damn good fun.
The guys behind Wreckfest knew what they were doing, that’s for sure. The game is quite thoughtfully well made, and is a might 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 breaks 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 is good.
But what makes Wreckfest worth your money, over say 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 breaks, 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, 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 God-damn 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 back in early access as ‘Next Car Game’, but I believe it only recently had its full release in the last year or two. It 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 with and have a little fun with.