Wreckfest Review: Mounds of Mangled Metal Amusement!
I’ll be honest. I had nearly given up hope of ever playing a solid demolition derby game again. Ever since I waited in line at my local Electronics Boutique to bring home Sony’s new upstart console, the original PlayStation, and a fresh copy of Destruction Derby, I’ve had a love affair with vehicular carnage. Unfortunately, I feel like very few games have been able to convey the true demolition derby experience as well as the Reflections team all the way back in 1995. Fast forward nearly 25 years… enter Wreckfest!!
Wreckfest allows you to fill a garage with a stable of all sorts of vehicles and unleash them on two main event categories: destruction derbies and destruction races. Destruction races are more traditional races where a little rubbin’ bumpers and tradin’ paint is encouraged whereas derbies are held in bowl-like arenas with a singular goal of smashing your opponents into oblivion, leaving you the last vehicle running. And how about those vehicles? Wreckfest features a wide array of jalopies; from school buses to lawnmowers and lots more in between. And, you can spend a little wrench time with each vehicle upgrading everything from various armor pieces to performance parts to cosmetics like paint and rims. It’s all here.
Another highlight for me is Bugbear’s dedication to executing a fairly simple concept to a high degree of design detail. The explosions of steel and sheet metal, the angry exhaust growls, the flying dirt and gravel, the dastardly track design; they all culminate in an incredibly fun experience. You’ll see tracks that cross paths in multiple places in order to set up those devastating wrecks that you’ve come for. Some tracks even have you jumping blindly off of an embankment into oncoming traffic. A large portion of the environments are destructible too. After all, no race is complete without leaving a few fences in splinters and scattering numerous tire walls. As for sound design, it’s exactly what you’d hope for in most respects but I’d be doing the game a disservice if I didn’t mention the soundtrack. Absolutely nothing says mangled metal like those blistering metal riffs. You’ll hear stellar tracks from bands like Oceanhoarse, Blind Channel, Shiraz Lane and Cyan Kicks which all lend to the unbridled adrenaline.
My experience with Wreckfest has not been without some minor issues though. First, and probably highest by degree of annoyance, there have been a few instances where loading progress stopped entirely while loading an event. There was no error indication. The loading percentage simply stopped while I stared miserably at the loading screen. My only resolution was to restart the game entirely. Speaking of loading screens, there are a lot of them and they seem to be a little lengthier than I would expect. When you’re waiting 45 seconds to load an event and 45 seconds again to leave the event afterwards, it just feels like a bit much. I will note, however, that there has been at least one update since I downloaded my review copy of Wreckfest so I feel much more at ease in the thought that Bugbear is actively tackling bugs and ongoing optimizations.
Ultimately, what would you want from a destruction derby game? I want that gritty, rural speedway feel. I want vehicles that look like they could’ve been purchased directly through Craigslist for $500 and modified in someone’s backyard. I want to see every hint of the damage, from the slightest ding to the entire hood flying off. I want a direct connection between the driver and the vehicle, no crazy weapons or goofiness. On all of these points, I believe Bugbear Entertainment has delivered an amazingly hectic and incredibly fun experience in Wreckfest. I’m looking forward to many more hours with my virtual gas pedal smashed to the floorboard.
Wreckfest is out now on PS4, Xbox One and PC (launched June 2018 on PC)!
DISCLAIMER: We were provided a full review copy of Wreckfest in exchange for our honest impressions.