A racing game combined with the taboo of destructive driving. Does it deserve poll position, or will it crash and burn into the crash barrier of disappointment?
THQ Nordic are a well-established publisher who have managed to maintain a reputation of great games over the last few generations of console and PC games. With titles such as Alan Wake and Darksiders under their belts, the excitement of a new racing game brings excitement and high expectations for the game. Wreckfest looks to change the game within the racing genre with the inclusion of destruction mechanics paired with physics which modifies driving depending on how your car is damaged.
Online multiplayer is created through the use of a server browser which are maintained by the players. Normally only consisting of a few rules which aim to keep trolling to a minimum (think driving backwards through traffic) playing tracks which you enjoy within the game-modes is easy and enjoyable. Hosts appear to be fairly forgiving when it comes to removing people from the server and the servers are very populated at the time of writing.
Bonus exp is something that every player loves and should strive for in the ongoing grind to level up. Causing damage to your rivals will result in varying exp gain depending on how you damage a car or where, causing a car to leave the race however, a big bonus to exp comes from knocking another car out of the race will cause a big bonus to experience gain. The result of this comes in the form of no-holds-barred combat unlike serious racing titles such as Forza. Unlike other combat games you may have played in the past, there aren’t any weapons or other pickups. The combat is based on rams as seen in a demolition derby. One of my favorite races was based solely of a figure of eight track which forced you into oncoming traffic, and the mechanic shined.
Physics was a very impressive. Wreckage from collisions as well as cars no longer operable by their players stayed on the track for the duration of the race. Dynamic objects such as tyre barricades also leave a mess on the track and affect your racing at every opportunity. As the race progresses, more and more hazardous material enters the race forcing adaptive driving. Leaving a trail of wreckage does make the experience more immersive and visually impressive. First-person drivers will find Wreckfest will experience the game with the optimal experience, tyres and debris flying on the bonnet and scrap kicking up will provide an amazing experience not experienced by those in the other camera views.
Cars are the pinnacle of the racing genre and Wreckfest doesn’t hold back on the selection available. As you level up you earn access to buy increasingly impressive cars, money is won from results. Cars from varying regions and expense can be bought from the market. There are also more creative cars such as school buses and tractors which won’t win you the race but could earn you points from their destructive nature which is unmatched compared to the usual street and racing variants which are built for speed, but not for damage absorption. Finding the right balance will be crucial to winning with maximum winnings. Tuning is available for the more aware players looking to optimize their cars.
Unfortunately where the game shines, it also creates downfalls. Being removed from the race is annoying as the game will force you to wait until the race is over in spectator mode or return to the main menu to queue up again. This is especially annoying when your kicked out at the start of the race when there is the most carnage. This does add to the adrenaline however and provide a more complex awareness process however as being aware of other players positioning as well as the racing line for poll position is essential. There is also an issue with the background scenery which is often in much lower resolution than the objects close to the track itself. Thankfully these are mostly only visible within the spectator free camera although it is disappointing to see in an otherwise graphically advanced title.
Wreckfest may not mesh well with the hardcore player base who swear by the realism of Forza and the unspoken rule of not colliding with the opposition. The general dynamic of racing is completely changed. Playing by the rules will halt your progression and force you to drive broken cars over the finish line. Casual players and those with reduced experienced will find this game much more enjoyable. Mistakes are less destructive than in more streamline racing games and the ability to relax and smash your own car (and more importantly, others) provides a much-needed change from the usual racing genre. A brilliant release which gives a creative approach without straying into the arcade or sci-fi style of game-play. THQ Nordic have produced a masterpiece of entertainment. If your even remotely into racing, you will love the environment this game creates.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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