Wreckfest – (Not) Short Review: PC Version

The title of my next gunge album… or dating guidebook. 

Crumpling a crappy car into advertising hoardings brings a big smile to my face. Finally, a game for people that dislike cars! I’ve always had a soft spot for destructive games, but it’s easy to regulate your excitement for a game that’s been around since 2014. Oh, Early Access… You harbinger of the anti-climax.

Now that Wreckfest’s been formally released, I wonder…

Is it metrosexual to shave my incredibly hairy toes? Also…

… Did Bugbear Entertainment manage to craft a game out the mismatch of systems?

Career mode presents a series of championships. You work through the C leagues to unlock the more exciting A League. So far, so traditional. Each league has around 10 events and each individual event holds potential. If you get bored of all that, you can set up your own race. You gain experience and nod as you earn access to better machines. There is plenty to do but none of that matters if the racing’s not up to it.

Wreckfest 1

Weeeeeeeee! Also, the lawnmowers could cut the bloody grass!

The very first event of my budding career was a lawnmower Destruction Derby. What a fantastic start. Don’t worry, it’s not all joke vehicles, as there are 24 or so other bangers to test drive and each vehicle has real weight behind them. Surprisingly, this isn’t a game to plant your finger on the throttle and expect to get away with it. You have to respect the racing line and regulate your speed; light use of the handbrake is recommended. It is a strange mix of realism coupled an arcade racer, that almost doesn’t gel. Let’s call it fun-listic (no, we won’t).

The damage physics are outstanding. Power sliding slap-bang into a competitor feels great, especially if you’re in the heavier vehicle. The game has a great feel and meaty impacts never get old.

Wreckfest 2

The hydraulics in this pimped car is really rather silly.

This game earns the right to use the term “wreck” in its title. I spent too much time in photo mode and you can view the Gallery here. If there is a criticism to be made, you have to point at the rigid drivers sitting in the cars. It’s even worse on the lawnmowers as they look like crash test dummies, which I’d admit, is kinda fitting. This is a nitpick, but when you notice them they sabotage the illusion. The tremendous decimation never seems to affect the cars steering, which is fine. I turned on realistic damage, looking forward to a wheel flying off the screen at high speed, but it only increased the speed of which damage is done to your car. Depending on the vehicle, two big slams and it’s game over. Oh well.

The tracks get in on the action as ploughing through a large wall of tyres never (sorry) tires. Each course encourages bastardy play. Edging opponents into oncoming traffic, spinning them out and feigning surprise when the AI returns the favour is a highlight. Yes, this is a game that gives it back, but it always remains fair. I did chuckle to myself as an AI driver completely messed up an attempt to take me out. Less so when it actually managed to clobber me. I guess this is a good time to mention the dreaded AI rubber-banding? It’s not gross! Phew. It helps that they are fallible. They attack one another and they are capable of causing huge piles up that you’ll have to negotiate in horror / pleasure. The tracks are designed with one eye on head-on collisions and choke-points. Drifting works great on dirt tracks, not so much on grippy tarmac. Between the action, changeable surfaces and lack of an on-screen mini-map, it ensures you remain highly focused.

Side Note – I was faintly reminded of the ambitious MotorStormWreckfest could have benefited from adding messy changeable mud-pools of doom. DOOM!

Wreckfest 3

Take that corporate society! Also, I need money for a new car.

“Mr Whooly” ramming into your side at high speed might have him denoted as a rival. The fiend! This makes things *squints* personal. Beyond the natural loathing this inspires, you are given the chance to earn extra XP if you decide to punish this, “Mr Whooly”. Naturally the best revenge is to make him eat your dust. Why, he was no rival. It’s a nice touch and a shame you can’t have a couple of rivals per race.

Each event in career mode has the potential to throw up a surprise. Clambering into a rickety ol’ 3 wheeler on a speed circuit is a lot more fun against a fleet of violent school buses. It’s frustrating that I can’t replay an event without wiping my perfect score; especially as you may have missed the optional additional goals, such as leading for a number of laps or spinning out so many cars. If you’re looking to spin out cars in a professional environment, may I introduce you to the 23 car Destruction Derby. This is what computer games are all about. The handling, damage and AI excels in such chaos. If you don’t smack anyone in a while, you’re disqualified. A nice touch is that if you are a naughty low-down cheat you can restart any race at any time. Hey, I’m for it, as I’m all for choice. Naturally, I didn’t need to restart… cough….honest…  anyway. 

Wreckfest 5

Sunday drivers, ey.

Chucking heavy armour on your junker sounds like a good idea, but might not help in a race. No problem, you can upgrade the engine, but you best be careful as you might go too far and your banger’s too good for that lower level race. There are options to fine-tune your banger to your hearts content and if you’re feeling brave you can turn off the helpful driving aids. Yes, this will result in you barely being able to control the car. Every turn demands respect and those craving realism will get a real kick outta this. Naturally, as a heathen, I’m not so keen to reduce my hotshot driver fantasy to a one-eyed goomba with a gammy foot. The choice to play the game as a proper racer is very welcome and true challenge.

Speaking of the ruination of fantasy there is an online mode and it’s exactly what you’d expect. There is no reason not to act like a dick by spinning around and going the wrong direction, which is in the spirit of the game. When you do finally crash out it is kinda fun to watch the cinematic nightmare play out. Humans do well in disorder and a full compliment of players is as good as you’d assume. Wreckfest screams out for local multiplayer as the games very nature is ideal for some split-screen action. Saying that, the excellent online tomfoolery more then makes for its exclusion.

Wreckfest 4

Don’t worry about me, just passing through.

Your Destruction Derby comes in two forms. Standard Deathmatch which is fun, but lacks the tension of the other mode. Last Man Standing which doesn’t allow you to re-spawn. Unfortunately the scoring to Last Man Standing feels flawed. You can take out 4 cars and cause untold mischief, scrap through to a tense one on one battle before going out in a mighty blaze of glory, only to find you’re 2nd place to someone that wrecked no-one and did nothing. Yes, I know the name of the game is to survive, but to do so by driving in the most sensible manner possible? Bah!

A classic tactic is to use your car boot as a weapon, protecting your soft squishy engine from danger. I started to loathe reversing at any length of time as that high-pitched engine whine wasn’t worth the damage to my ears. Yes, I know it sounds like that and realism is important, but bloody hell it’s annoying. Apart from that, the sounds are big and meaty, and the classic rock soundtrack has encouraged me to invest shares in headbanging wigs.

Wreckfest 6

This really genuinely happened on a Tuesday.

If you get a poor start to a race, which is liable to happen, it usually results in a mid-table finish. It’s unlikely you’ll catch the pack leaders and I don’t think it’s a AI issue, it’s just the nature of the game as you’re swallowed up into the battles. Thank you Mr Restart Button. Some races require a huge slice of luck to scrap through. It’s a game that works great with a couple of friends, taking turns, whooping at the mindless disorder. Extended periods of single-player has the capacity to frustrate. This might not be the game for you if you’re in a bad frame of mind. Does Wreckfest provide something completely new? Hmm, not really, but it’s polished enough to see your face in the bonnet. It feels fresh, even if it technically isn’t. I do miss some of the silly mini-games from Bugbear’s previous effort Flatout. Wreckfest is dead serious in it’s carnage. Now excuse me as legitimately ignore the spirit of the game by driving in a professional controlled manner.


Tight driving physics and unpredictable chaos make for continual entertainment. 

Please drive sensibly and keep your arms in the vehicle at all times… up until a head-on collision.