Wreckfest

ESRB:T
ONLINE:Yes (1-16 Competitive)
INSTALL:16.6GB
RELEASE DATE:June 14, 2018 (PC/Steam), August 27, 2019 (PS4, XB1)
PLATFORM:Playstation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC/Steam
PUBLISHER:THQ Nordic
DEVELOPER:Bugbear Entertainment
ONLINE PASS:Season Pass ($22.99 USD)
NOTICE:

So, I’m aware that this review for Wreckfest is a fair bit late. I’d wanted to get it done sooner – but there was about a month where I wasn’t able to get any work done. Right after receiving the game (Thanks Chris!), I started the process of getting a new PC (F I N A L L Y!)

Unfortunately, things didn’t go smoothly – the power supply came in faulty and took nearly 2 weeks to get replaced, so I was without a computer for nearly a month and a half. Just a laptop that I can’t capture any footage on and has to stay plugged in at all times.

Add on to that the fact I like to actually complete games before I review them – and the few playthroughs that were going for the channel, and this review kinda fell into the backlog. BUT, I’m done for the most part – so I’ve got the time to actually get this done now.

Gameplay Video



Presentation


The game looks alright. Wreckfest is a game that goes for a more photorealistic look – so you aren’t really going to be seeing a lot of outlandish track layouts or locations. It’s very much grounded.

That’s not to call the game dull – colors are nice and vibrant and the locales look great.

Understand, though – realistic doesn’t mean boring, and Wreckfest actually manages to look really good in motion. Colors are bright and vibrant, weather effects (While limited to changes in atmosphere and not really rain or snow) look nice. The overcast setting actually looks overcast, for instance – lighting is properly effected and colored to convey it.

Car reflections are smooth and clean. And perhaps best of all – the level of detail in damage is impressively high. Metal, paint and various other debris can fly off of cars and parts of the track, leaving the road covered in litter and refuse (That still has physics when driven over).

The physics are probably the best part of the game. Debris tends to remain interactive even when strewn about the track.

Colliding with a cement wall even causes the wall to bust and crack, sending bits flying everywhere.

However, this all comes at a price. And that price? The framerate. Even on PS4 Pro/Xbox One X, the game only runs at 30FPS (Though PC can hit 60). It’s a bit rough, especially when things start to get hectic as the framerate can dip even further down. It never becomes unplayable – as far as I could tell from my time playing. It’s just a little disappointing in a world were games like Gran Turismo Sport and DiRT Rally 2.0 can run at a stable 60 even on base consoles.

Again, though – the framerate issues aside – the game still looks and runs just fine (Though I did have a few crashes early, early on – before patches.)

I also really like the soundtrack – though it feels like there aren’t very many songs in the game (Not really a problem when you can just use Spotify and have whatever music you want). The songs that are here, though, are great and fit the tone of the game well.


Gameplay


This is the part that generally makes a racing game. This is also the part that generally breaks a racing game.

Wreckfest, well…

Wreckfest doesn’t exactly offer up a lot that you haven’t seen before, especially when compared to its influences – like Destruction Derby or FlatOut. It’s pretty standard fare, all things considered. Even the career is just a series of various groups of events that you complete. No real sense of progression – no story, no team. Not even a credits sequence when you’ve completed them all.

I’m glad the career exists, at least. I just feel there could be more to it. As it stands, you barely even need to ever change your car to get through the entire thing. Even in Gran Turismo, which has a similar structure, your starter car will only take you so far.

There are a few events here and there that require a specific vehicle, region or class – but they’re few and far between, and the starting car can be upgraded to match every class – and most of the region-specific events include its region.

At least there are a decent amount of cars and tracks/layouts to take the sting out of the lack of variety in modes.

You’ve got your standard circuit races with variations on the rules. Banger Race is your standard, no-frills circuit race. You versus up to 23 other AI opponents (or 15 human/AI opponents online.). Depending on the track, things can get a bit chaotic and you’ll be lucky to cross the finish line driving more than a smoldering chassis.

Seriously – if you can cross the finish line with no damage, you aren’t playing correctly.

The other race variations are Team Race – which is essentially the same as Banger Race, but the field is divided into 2-4 teams instead. Lastly, is Elimination. Again – pretty much the same as the standard race, but now the person in last place is eliminated at the end of a lap.

The other overall mode in the game, is the Destruction Derby. Considering the title of the game and the heavy focus on damage and destruction, you’d think this mode would be fairly robust, yeah?

Not really. Not any more than the standard race mode.

You’ve got Last Man Standing – which is you against up to 23 other AI opponents (15 human/AI online). Be the last driver not wrecked at the end of the event to win.

You’ve got Deathmatch – which is a timed event where you try to wreck as many opponents as possible in the time limit.

Last of all is Team Deathmatch – exactly the same as normal Deathmatch, but with 2-4 teams instead.

There are also far fewer tracks available for the derby mode, which is a little disappointing. Especially since most of them are just flat arenas – only two derby arenas have anything unique to them.

Maybe there’ll be more in the DLC to come – but it just feels a little weird that there are so few when there’s such a heavy focus on it as a core thing.

I also really miss some of the wacky, goofy stuff that the game’s predecessors used to include. It helped games like FlatOut stand out from the rest of the pack in the racing genre. The minigames where you would crash your car into a barricade to try and send the driver flying into a skeeball goal or a dartboard were tons of fun both solo and in multiplayer.

That’s not really here – and because of that, the core game can feel a bit stale. As fun as the derby mode is, and as good as the driving can feel – once you get used to it – there just isn’t much that stands out aside from the game’s adherence to having really impressive damage, and what seems to be a real obsession with having as many particles and objects flying around on the screen at once.

I almost forgot to mention – the game also features some customization. For the most part, it’s just for show – and I’ll talk more about that aspect under Replay Value – but there is an aspect of it that effects gameplay. As I mentioned earlier, you can upgrade your car with various parts to improve its performance – make it accelerate faster, turn sharper, brake faster, etc. You can also upgrade its armor – and this is where a lot of the depth in the game lies. As you upgrade the armor, depending on the pieces, you also add weight to the car – lowering its acceleration and handling while increasing its strength.

Too much armor and you’ll struggle to get your car out of the back of the pack – but you’ll be able to take quite a bit of punishment. Not enough armor, and a good hit might put you out of the race permanently.

For derby – you want to have a heavy, strong car. The heavier you are and the faster you drive, the harder you hit. For races, you still want armor, but you want to balance it with speed. You want protection – but not so much that you can’t maneuver. Lightweight bumpers and mesh windows instead of steel beams and A-Bars.

Now – the way armor actually works in this game is that it acts like the hull of a ship. Armor sits on the outside and takes damage first. Once done, it falls off and leaves the main body of the car exposed – the hull of the ship. As that takes damage, it also falls off, leaving the chassis and other inner workings of the vehicle exposed. The more exposed and area is, the more damage hits to that area will do to your car overall.

The modes that are here, while basic, are at least fun, and the game’s impressive damage and particles do elevate them slightly higher.

The closest thing to the fun of the older games that Wreckfest has would be the challenge events in the career. These are events that generally task you with driving a specific vehicle – usually something odd, like the Supervan or the sofa car – and completing a specific goal, like wrecking a certain amount of opponents, or winning the race against a fleet of Big Rigs while you drive a lawnmower.

These events were a lot of fun and I really wish there were more things in the game like them.


Replay Value


If you’ve ever wanted to put a big boxing glove fist on the roof of your car – you can live that dream in Wreckfest.

It’s a racing game. As I mentioned in my review a while back for GRAVEL, if you aren’t a fan of winning every event in 1st place (Which isn’t even a requirement for this game), or doing time trials – then you aren’t going to find much to replay here.

The derby mode is a lot of fun, so if you can get some friends together – online, mind you – you could have a pretty fun get-together game at least. It is disappointing that there doesn’t seem to be any local multiplayer, though.

There is at least a fair amount of stuff to unlock.

While there isn’t a lot of variety in the core game – there is a decent amount of variety in the car and track selection, as well as a lot of stuff to unlock overall. As you play and win events or level up, you unlock new cars and customization parts. This can help keep you playing at least for a little while.

The customization isn’t quite as robust as other games, but you can still make your favorite car your own.

On the trophy side of things – there isn’t anything too difficult here. Complete the career, a few specific tasks like hitting a certain speed in a specific car and one trophy/achievement for winning 20 online events against human opponents (Which can be done in private matches with friends). A relatively simple 100%/Platinum.


Final Verdict


Wreckfest as a whole isn’t a bad game by any stretch. It’s a lot of fun – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve spent with it. But it’s a bit of a hard sell. It has multiplayer – but nothing local. It has single-player content – but it’s overall lackluster. It looks great – but can run terribly at times.

If those are problems you can look past, then you’ll have a great time with the game – I know I did. But for those of you who like a little more. More modes, more content overall – Wreckfest might be better as a rental – or perhaps to wait for a sale. That said – the standard edition of the game is only $40 USD – so it’s not going to be too big of a blow to the wallet if you buy it and don’t like it.

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PROS CONS
  • Overall the game is a lot of fun to actually play. Driving feels pretty good, and destruction feels great.

  • The variety of vehicle types is nice. There are cars/trucks here that you don't often see - even in games of this nature.

  • The game looks nice visually. A bit jagged at times, but overall things look good and highly detailed.
  • The game is still a bit rough around the edges. Performance could use some improvement.

  • The career is a bit barebones - there just isn't a lot that's unique about it, and most events are just standard races.

  • I miss the more ridiculous nature of games like FlatOut, where there were fun and weird minigames - and where other drivers felt like they had personalities.
  • FINAL VERDICT
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    About James Headrick

    Gamer & Fractal Artist. // Lover of giant robots & Fighting in Streets. I've been gaming for over 20 years, and writing reviews for over 10 now. ReviewHaven is my baby.
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