I’ve been yearning for a Destruction Derby replacement, DiRt Showdown dabbled with it but it was enough. Then Wreckfest got announced, I was so excited, but all came crashing down because it was only coming to steam with a console version to be released down the line.
Finally, it released on consoles and I’m pleased to say it was worth the wait. However that is one thing you’ll need to keep doing, waiting, as the load times are pretty poor. Sometimes you end up with a loading screen when you least expect it and it’s really frustrating. Add to that the incredibly annoying soundtrack and you begin to wonder why you are playing the game, then as you smash into your opponent you remember.
Wreckfest is a lot of fun, but also not very easy. Don’t go into the game expecting an arcade racer, cars feel weighty and realistic react to the road and impact from other vehicles, most of the time anyway, on the odd occasion your car seems to fly through the air like it’s been hit by a hurricane. Each vehicle type feels different to drive, American muscle cars sway around corners while the lawnmowers seem to be able to turn on a sixpence. The lighter the car the more likely you are to be spun out but the heavier vehicles are easier to out manoeuvre. The surface you race on also makes a big difference to the experience, tarmac gives the impression you are stuck to the road while some of the dirt based circuits require you to be more careful when negotiating turns.
Your AI opponents are pretty good, they don’t mind coming after you and if you hit them first they’ll come looking for revenge. It’s great watching them fight each other too. They make mistakes and cause all sorts of carnage adding lots of unpredictable scenarios while racing.
There are two damage levels in the game, normal and realistic. Normal gives a more arcade feel to the game, allowing your car to be smashed around quite a bit while realistic can see you losing wheels and possibly not finishing a race. The Physics in the game are particular impressive, the bodies of each car can be smashed into unrecognisable shapes, allowing you to see a level of damage I’ve never seen in a racing game before.
I was impressed with the persistent damage on the tracks too, if you smash into a tyre wall in the race for example, the destruction you had caused will interfere with the cars through the whole race. The game manages all of this without a drop in framerate, which is very impressive considering the amount of cars that can be on the screen at one time and the amount of damage and debris you’ll see flying around.
There are plenty of cars for you to own, via credits that you earn from competing. There are no licensed vehicles but you can work out what models most are based on. Each car can be customised with different liveries and also upgraded to improve performance. Extra armour can be added to improve the strength of the bodywork. Earning credits however is a bit of a slog so don’t expect to buying cars all the time.
Wreckfest is made up of a Career mode, Custom events and Multiplayer. Career mode sees you start in regional events before moving up to nationals and eventually the world masters. You need to unlock a certain number of points before moving on to different events, generally you get points for finish in the top three of an event. After a while you start seeing the same circuits over and over but the racing is enjoyable enough to make you forget that.
Custom events are excellent, allowing you to race anywhere with any combination of vehicles, just try outrunning massive cars while driving a lawnmower with loop-de-loop in the middle of a stadium, its absolute carnage.
Multiplayer is also great fun, there are varying events to take part in, whether you prefer racing, special events or of course Destruction Derby. There aren’t any options for a private server which is a massive shame, however it’s pretty easy to get your friends invited to races.
I’ve had a blast playing Wreckfest, it’s brought back fond memories of the Destruction Derby days and while there are frustrations with loading times, and lack of private servers to set up events easily with your friends its a great game to dip in and out of.