Bugbear Entertainment are known for their over-the-top demolition derby style racing games. The FlatOut series proved to be quite popular on the 6th and 7th generation consoles. For FlatOut 3, development was turned over to another studio, and the game left fans wondering what had happened. FlatOut 3 was a departure from the formula that made the series fun. It ventured towards territory already well-served by Burnout Paradise. With Wreckfest, Bugbear is giving fans of their style of racing a FlatOut sequel in all but name.
What Is It?
Wreckfest is an over-the-top, arcade-style racing game. The focus is on wheel-to-wheel racing, with a heavy dose of collisions. Races can be on tracks, or in enclosed arenas for the Derby events.
The game’s career mode spans several different events, with a number of races in each event. Completing these races gives you points. Earning enough points will let you unlock the next event. It’s an old-school progression structure that will have you repeating events over and over, to get enough of the points you need to continue.
As you complete races, you’ll also earn XP and Credits. XP goes towards unlocking better tiers of cars, while the Credits are the currency you’ll need to purchase those cars once you have access to them. On the whole, it’s a very rigid structure, but one that works well enough.
Why Should I Care?
Where the rubber meets the road, or dirt and mud, as the case may be, is in Wreckfest’s gameplay. Tired cliche aside, Wreckfest’s gameplay is what will keep you interested. The game has a decidedly weighty feel to it. Cars feel like they weigh what they do. Impacts at speed are very satisfying, and often send parts flying off the cars. It’s a game called Wreckfest, one would hope that the damage modeling is good, and you won’t be disappointed with this part of the game.
When you’re not racing or reversing into other cars, the game offers a lot of customization. There is a paint shop where you can go in and make your cars look as hideous as your heart desires. That’s not a knock on the tools available. It’s just what you do when painting a demo-derby car.
Wreckfest also has a tuning shop, where you can tweak things like suspension, differential, and gear ratios. If you’re going into a demolition derby event, you’ll want to gear towards acceleration rather than top speed, as it’s unlikely you’d ever get up to your car’s top speed to begin with. There is also an upgrade shop, where you can purchase parts to increase your car’s performance, durability, or just make it look even more garish.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
Wreckfest is a fun game, whether you’re playing solo or multiplayer. It’s a game that hits the nostalgia button, reminding me of the FlatOut and Destruction Derby games of old. That’s not to say that it’s perfect. There are certainly some issues present.
The game doesn’t do a very good job of letting you know how you’re doing with your goals as the race progresses. You’ll need to bring up the pause screen to see your goals. That should have been on the main HUD, with a progress bar telling you how far you are from completing the goal. Then, once a race is over, you’re presented with an XP, credit, and rewards tally. Unfortunately it only tells you that you completed challenges, not which ones.
Finally, there are the technical issues. Selecting cars is a bit of a painful process because there is a noticeable delay when moving from one car to another. There are also some rendering issues that crop up from time to time. Some parts of a track might fail to render, showing up as black void space.
None of these issues are game-breaking, but they all lend to the impression that Wreckfest could have used another month or two in the oven before the big console release. These issues will certainly get ironed out. The fact Bugbear have pushed five patches in the span of two weeks is proof of that, but right now, Wreckfest has a solid core of a game, in a somewhat unpolished wrapper. It’s definitely enjoyable, though, fun and satisfying. Even with its issues, Wreckfest is a really good game in a genre that’s sorely under-represented.