Published by THQ Nordic in 2018 (2019 for Xbox), Wreckfest brings back memories of Destruction Derby from the Playstation in 1995, but with so many new features it really feels like a true, if not a little late, spiritual successor to the ‘smash em up’ racing genre. For too long we’ve seen the games like Forza top the charts, and rightly so, they are great racing simulators. However whilst racing an opponent have you ever just wanted to completely mangle their car? T-bone them off of the racing track and cripple their suspension or brakes? This is exactly what kind of thoughts and actions take place in Wreckfest.
Wreckfest includes a variety of modes for players to sink their teeth into. There is the standard Career mode which gives you unique destruction derby like tasks where you will control a combine harvester, or a sofa car, instead of the usual beaten bangers you’re used to seeing. There is that available as well though, and it’s absolutely heaps of fun. Driving full throttle into the middle of an arena along with 14 other cars is the kind of casual fun you don’t see in many games released lately. You’ll earn XP throughout the campaign and unlock new cars to kit out with numerous upgrades, paint jobs & decorations.
An Event Mode is also available for single players, where you can create your own events using the games’ fairly varied tracks, game types & modifiers. You can create a traditional banger race in a Nascar-esque stadium, or you could create a last man standing event in a cornfield. It all depends on how you’re feeling I guess, sometimes I enjoy just hopping back onto Wreckfest for 15 minutes or so to unleash some destruction (and anger) on my opponents, it’s incredibly satisfying & rewarding. Multiplayer was a big part of the Wreckfest experience for me. Everything you do in the campaign & event mode can be recreated for online play. With lobbies of up to 8 privately, or up to 16 players on a public server. I never ran into any connection issues online, generally it felt very good. I admire the skills of some players online, managing to weave in and out of everyone during one race I played, seemingly taking no damage & winning with ease. I guess it’s all about pulling yourself away from the temptation of smashing the shit out of someones car.
“I’m Gonna Wreck It!” – Ralph
The games graphics are decent, they’re definitely not up to par with some newer racing games, but with the sophisticate damage physics on the cars themselves, I can kind of let that go. The damage taken or given by your vehicle in Wreckfest is a pretty lifelike representation. Tyres can burst or even torn off, doors and hoods will be thrown across tracks and when finally wrecked, your CARcass (hehe) will remain on the track, becoming an added obstacle for other drivers to dodge. Revenge from the grave is sometimes even sweeter. I enjoy seeing each new lap of a race having more & more debris sitting on the track, dodging each piece as I go. Overall the driving physics feel great. Not spectacular, but just good enough. Cars drive differently on a variety of surfaces like tarmac & dirt, and this feels great when driving on tracks with multiple surfaces throughout. Memorising where the changes are, knowing when to brake & accelerate on each surface will keep you from spinning out and totalling your car. It’s also easier to spin other cars out on dirt roads, so knowing when to try and take down that 1st place player can actually be quite tactical, just try not to wreck yourself in the process.
I do have one big issue with the game in its current state on Xbox One X though, and that is the incessant load times. I’m not sure if it’s a sort of first world problem now when anything over 10 seconds is considered long, but having to wait sometimes over 45 seconds to get into your next race or derby really removes my interest from the game. It’s especially worse in the online multiplayer, where you will have this loading screen to pre-load the track, and then you’ll have an 80 second long countdown until the race begins, whereas most people in the lobbies I have been in are ready with 10-15 seconds. Your only options during that time are to change your car or quickly add upgrades. That for me is just too much downtime between events, and that is one big negative for me.
Is it a Car Crash?
Overall I think Wreckfest is an interesting game, it’s a modern day representation of a game from my childhood that I loved, & I do think it improves on it in every way. It’s a great game to hop on with friends, or even just jump into an online lobby with some random people. I’m still working my way though the career mode, still enjoying it, & I plan to keep playing for a long time yet.