EZ Racer's Blog

Posted on Sep 27th 2019 at 03:41:49 PM by (EZ Racer)
Posted under Wreckfest, PS4, XBox One, racing, driving, cars, wreck

Back in March, I had been looking to add a modern console racer to my collection. Stopped at a local game store, where the clerk recommended that I watch for the console release of Wreckfest, a demolition derby racer by THQ Nordic that had already been released on Steam. Intrigued, I anticipated its release, and immediately picked up a copy when it came out last month, and it's been money well spent.

From first glance, and a name like wreckfest, you'd think that this was purely an arcade racer. Just hit-the-gas and run-into-stuff type of action. But the reality is that it plays almost like a hybrid, crossing the lines between what to expect from a sim racer, and what to expect from an arcade racer. It really does feel like a simulation of driving a derby car, complete with physics and one of the best damage engines I've ever seen in a game. But then putting that realistic feel into unrealistic, and sometimes absurd, situations.

In terms of presentation, the game hits all the notes you'd want it to. While it doesn't have the photorealism of games like Gran Turismo and Forza, the game is gorgeous in its own right, with environments that complement the gritty feel the game is aiming for. Many environmental objects are fully interactive as well, meaning you can plow through billboards, bend guardrails, and explode tire barriers at your delight.

This game is NOT about speed or sleek driving machines. It's about willing your rustbucket car around the track while forcing your will on your opponents, all the while keeping them from doing the same to you. That's the essence of this game, and in that respect, it comes down to driving skill, with the occassional bit of luck mixed in.

Some tracks are more circuit loops that resemble a traditional racing experience, while others are figure eights in which you have to cross through traffic, and still others in which the track is literally one-lane with turn-around sections at each end, and you find yourself navigating constant head on traffic as the race progresses. There are also Last Man Standing stadium challenges in which 24 vehicles are placed in an arena with the goal of trying to wreck all other vehicles while keeping yours running. After all, it is a demolition derby game.

This variety of course and race types keeps the game fresh, and adds to its replay value. While the selection of vehicles isn't massive, it is enough that players can find cars that best suit their skills. Another welcome aspect is the ability to customize tuning on the car as well try some wicked paint scheme combinations.

On the track, while the AI is aggresive and there is slight rubber-banding when cars get behind, it never feels unfair or out of place. One positive note I noticed early on was that it never felt like a 1 vs all game. Each race feels like a free-for-all, with computer opponents trying to take out each other as well as the human player. I can't think of a title that does a better job of this racing aspect, and it's just one of many instances I was impressed by Wreckfest's game engine.

The game isn't perfect, however. While I know it's a thing of the past, this game would've lent itself well to local multiplayer, but only an online multiplayer is available. Get ready to sit through some long load times, sometimes from 30 to 60 seconds for a race.

Also, it's not the kind of game where you can just hit the gas and steer. There is constant braking and strategy involved, and while its driving mechanics are executed well, there is a learning curve to mastering the controls, and this may turn off some casual players looking for a quick pick-up-and-play option.

Nevertheless, this game does so many things well that any gamer who enjoys good racing action will find something they enjoy. It's all about driving, be it surviving mayhem or sideswiping opponents to help you cut corners tighter. It's crazy racing situations only add to its continuous adrenaline pumping excitement. It's a modern classic that always lives up to its name.

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