Wreckfest, a demolition derby game from THQ Nordic and Bugbear, hails from an originally failed crowdfunding a few years ago. Back then, it was labeled with the very peculiar name of “Bugbear’s Next Car Game”. It that odd moniker for years before finally getting the slightly more descriptive name of Wreckfest. Wreckfest was developed by the makers of Flat Out 1 & 2 as well as the Ridge Racer games, so they know what they’re doing.
Of course, with the name Wreckfest and focus of demotion derbies, the main focus of the game is all about winning races and smashing your opponents out of commission. When playing the game’s Career or Multiplayer modes, you are expected not just to race well but to try and hit and spin out your opponents. Depending on the exact game type, there are some cases where the racing seems to take a lead in terms of importance and other times when the destruction and mayhem are the main goals. Game tracks such as the traditional, mud-filled arenas are just designed to have cars smash into one another for a certain amount of time and see who is left standing. This is the kind of wrecking I grew up with when going to monster truck shows, tractor pulls, and demolition derbies.
However, Wreckfest seems to suffer a slight identity crisis in regards to the smashing aspect. You are expected to place well – even win so you can get points to level and unlock cars. However, the smashing into other vehicles part tends to slow you down and cost you position. So, unless the wolf pack is still fairly tight and you have the leader cars close enough to hit, then you really want to concentrate less on the smashing and more on the racing and doing your best with the road conditions. Obviously, there is no question about the goal of the game in those previously-mentioned mud arenas where you smash cars or tractors into each other – that’s when Wreckfest truly shines.
Career mode consists of 5 sections starting with the Regional Juniors and ending in the World Masters. While driving through your career, you earn points which let you unlock the next career phase, vehicles, car upgrades, etc. In an ever-growing attempt to make the players happy they have recently added a bunch of Ford skins to their lineup of other official skins so that you aren’t playing cars with a knockoff look. You can change the paint job on your vehicle too to try and have a bit more of your own personal feel. This is nice though I have already fallen in love with the car that has “THE RIPPER” painted up the side of it for obvious reasons. I wonder if I can get that paint job on a lawn mower. Speaking of lawn mowers, that is one of the amazing parts of Wreckfest. Charging at the enemy in your own mower while simultaneously trying to hit others and avoid being hit. They are such small targets (as are you), it is like a lawn mower dogfight. This is one of the must fun parts of the game and I highly recommend you play it when able.
While the single player career mode is a blast, Multiplayer is also fun. You can start your own map with your own rules or just check the already established maps for one that fits what you want to do. Some are just demolition derby arenas, others are just racing. Some are restrictive on rules while others have none. The real fun is the number of players you can have at one time. It wasn’t that long ago when we were excited to have 8 vs. 8 teams running around but these online ones can be up to 24 players! Some servers might be set to less, a few were set at 15 players probably to keep lag under control. If you have a good rig and you are getting good latency then the real fun is in the bigger races where there are that many more players you are racing against. Some allow for “special cars” which I won’t spoil for you because it’s more fun to discover them and try to get them yourself.
The keyboard control system for Wreckfest is kind of odd, it is done through the up, down, left, and right arrow keys with additional controls at A and Z just to make things kinda weird. I got used to the controls but it took a while. I did soem matches in Career mode then didn’t save my progress so I could have a fresh start to the mode without the false start of the learning curve. The game also has built in Xbox 360 controller compatibility and the controls are far more intuitive this way – it is the method I recommend when playing Wreckfest.
Wreckfest’s graphics are really nice – you recognize the vehicles and when they take damage and start to shed parts in a very realistic way. Besides that, there is great attention to detail paid to the various tracks and arenas you cruise around on. The game’s audio is great with lots of crunching noises to go around. Also, Wreckfest has a ton of replayability when it comes to taking on your friends, the online community with their leader boards, or just playing through career mode in a different way.
Wreckfest may have been a bit slow making it on to the scene, which probably worried a lot of players, but now that it is done the game is pretty polished and a lot of fun to play. There are still regular hot fixes to get the bugs out that usually don’t get noticed until the game is launched with a large population but that’s par for the course. IN short: Buy Wreckfest – it’s fun!