What is the most entertaining aspect of racing? Is it the fast speed? The tuned vehicles? The competition? No, no, and no. The best part of any race is when things go wrong, cars pile up, and stuff gets destroyed. Wreckfest leans into this grizzled form of entertainment by providing an experience that is at its best when it is at its worst.
For the most part, Wreckfest lives up to its name within all available events and opponent AI has been cleverly crafted. Enemies cars have no issue blindsiding you in a demolishing derby, they will try and ram you off the road during tight turns, and actually had cars stalk me as I tried to escape their brutal hits. If enough damage has been dealt, players can even create a rivalry with an opponent and provides a quality online-like competition off-line.
While there are variants, there are basically two main gameplay scenarios: race to the finish and demo derby. When racing, most courses are designed in a way to create drama. Straightaways can be narrow to encourage bumping and crushing whereas sudden turns can result in vehicle spin-outs and plenty of t-boning. There are tracks in figure 8’s which also ensures disaster. Other elements come into play such as tires padding the perimeter, all of which can go flying when run over, and other obstacles that can act as a ramp to send cars airborne. Luckily, players can instantly respawn on the track with the push of a button with only minimal time lost, keeping action always at the forefront.
While racing is cool, the demolition derby is where the most ridiculous action takes place. Like PUBG or Fortnite, the goal is to be the last car standing while wrecking opponents along the way. As hillbilly as it may seems, participating in a giant wreckfest like this is always fun. Besides the pure ridiculousness, vehicle damage adds that layer of visual flare and strategy to gameplay. Thanks to an indicator on screen, the player knows where damage has been sustained. For example, if your back tire got nailed, the car will start to drive funny. If you took a head-on smack to the engine, your car might not run in which the player can opt to drive in reverse to try and cause damage. But the coolest part is simply how the vehicles look after taking damage. They crunch, scrape, and parts go flying with each hit. Even though you’ll get sandwiched between a couple of buses, it will happen with a smile on your face. Then, the ridiculous factor is amplified thanks to lawn mower demo derbies and even couch races – yes, you literally drive motorized couches. It is super stupid and something to see.
In terms of gameplay and variety, Wreckfest lacks in many ways. Players simply select a game from the main menu and if performed well, stars are earned. Earn enough stars and more events become unlocked. However, earning stars, can be rather difficult like trying to spin out an opponent during a race to the finish. The player can earn cash to upgrade and buy new vehicles too but rarely found myself going into these details thanks to the stupidly long load times. In fact, the load times are so long, it almost makes the game unplayable. The load screens are also boring with no animation or interactivity. It gets so bad the player will often think the game is soft locked. There are also many little things that are missing that deteriorate the entire experience like how the hard rock soundtrack never let’s up and just seems too loud all the time. There isn’t even a congratulations screen or sound effects when the player wins a race and just blindly transitions from one screen to the next. It is like the developers put all their emphasis on how much damage the cars can take but forgot to build a full game around it.
Wreckfest has some obvious flaws but I still prefer this style of acardeyness over complicated realistic simulations. Encouraging the best part of racing, the crashes, can result in some memorable experiences… that is, if you can suffer through the extensive load times.
Also available on PS4 and PC.
Also Try: Demolition Derby on the Playstation Classic mini console
Don’t Forget About: Mario Kart Tour (mobile)
Wait For It: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Switch)