Wreckfest (Xbox One) Review

By Gabriel Jones 26.08.2019

Review for Wreckfest on Xbox One

Greg, his mouth agape in astonishment, looks on while his competitors are tuning their vehicles. Standing alongside him is his manager, who then says "You wanted to join the Wreckfest. Well, this is it." The driver's look of confusion turns to one of disbelief. "You're having a laugh, aren't you? Everyone is riding lawnmowers. Lawnmowers! Are we competing over who can cut the most grass?" Shrugging his shoulders, the manager retorts "This is the first step in unleashing that killer instinct of yours. How can I make a champion out of you, if you can't handle a mere lawnmower?" Exasperated, Greg tightens his grip on the Xbox One control pad. The demolition derby is about to begin. No matter what happens; Gregory "The Nailbat" Stokes is determined to come out on top.

Wreckfest is a fervently-designed arcade racing game that utilizes an additional layer of depth, one commonly found in simulators. In other words, expertly handling two tons of steel and machinery will only get you so far. Upgrading and tuning your ride is essential to landing the coveted first-place finish. This is also a take-no-prisoners smash 'n' crasher. Rivals can be spun around, nudged into trees, and even slammed into other vehicles. In short, there's no honour on these roads. Multi-car pileups are common, and victory can be snatched away by an inadvertent t-boning. You have to be cunning as well as ruthless. Those who are blinded by rage only end up hurting themselves.

In order to properly explain this title's dual-nature, it needs to be looked at from two points of view. For most players, the fun never ends. Every race is punctuated by thrills and spills. The destruction model is quite good, as cars will turn into twisted metal after enough collisions. Massive wrecks are fairly common, especially on tracks where the roads intersect. Murphy's Law is always a factor here, and sometimes you have to play dirty, just to avoid falling behind. However, one must also consider the case of Greg. The good times he has with this game are sometimes overshadowed by the frustration.

Screenshot for Wreckfest on Xbox One

For now, here's a look at the lawnmower derby that was mentioned earlier. This is perhaps the best introduction to the career mode imaginable. Players get a basic understanding of their place in the world. Here the goal is to wreck as many rivals as possible, which is typically accomplished by ramming into them at full speed. Either you annihilate their dreams with a deafening crash, or you start over and give it another shot. Thankfully, derbies and races alike tend to be pretty short, so restarting doesn't cost a lot of progress - and, by the way, driving strange vehicles is a rather common theme in career mode. Expect to also control a school-bus, a harvester, and a motorized couch. Watch out for the super-van; it looks like a Reliant Robin, and handles twice as poorly. Basically, you have to be ready for any circumstance, no matter how ridiculous it may seem.

Next up are the proper races. Coming in first place isn't always a requirement, but it leads to the most rewards. How to get there starts in the garage. Credits earned from completed races can be used to buy new cars, which can then be upgraded. Engine parts increase performance. Armour increases durability, but lowers the vehicle's speed and handling. After installing what they feel is necessary, players should then tune for the next race. Take into account the amount of tarmac or gravel on the road, as well as the sharpness of the corners. Early on, it's probably a good idea to lower the gear ratio. This trades maximum speed for faster acceleration, making it easier to recover from a bad turn. Finding the optimal setup will require a lot of experimentation, and can be influenced by the driver's play-style. Once you get the hang of how everything works, then you might want to consider turning off driving assists and increasing the AI's difficulty level. This makes for tougher races and higher pay-outs, provided that you win.

Screenshot for Wreckfest on Xbox One

The races themselves are definitely entertaining. There are appreciable differences between using the regular brake, hand-brake, or downshifting to navigate turns. Learning each track to maximize both speed and efficiency requires a sizable time investment. Finding that perfect route takes a concentrated effort, which is great. Furthermore, one must also be capable of handling their rivals. Not only are they always gunning for your spot, they'll take any opportunity to shove you off the road and into a wall. Recovering from a crash is as easy as pressing the 'Y' button, but you can kiss that win goodbye if it occurs late in the race. Some tracks are seemingly designed to facilitate huge pile-ups. The aptly-named 'Bonebreaker Valley' features ramps that lead drivers into oncoming traffic.

Disastrous wrecks are all well and good, if you're just playing for fun. However, those out there who are playing to unlock all of the content are bound to run into a few headaches. This is where Greg's experience might differ from everyone else's. His stressful job takes a lot out of him, so when he gets home, he just wants to play a relaxing video game. Unfortunately for him, even with all of the driving assists turned on and the AI set to 'Novice,' opportunities to delight in the carnage are few and far between. In order to buy the most powerful vehicles, he needs a lot of credits, which means a lot of wins. The same holds true if he wants to complete all of the challenges in career mode. This means constant restarts, every time something goes wrong during a race. All too frequently, an otherwise respectable performance can be undone by an unexpected collision.

Screenshot for Wreckfest on Xbox One

Granted, there are ways to game the system, such as pitting a school bus against 20+ lawn-mowers in the demolition arena. Players can earn loads of experience from racking up so many wrecks. However, this still leaves the career mode and its aggravating missions. Many of them are made up of multiple events, each with their own bonus challenges. Imagine trying to beat rivals by over 20 metres, or stay in first for two laps in a row. If you're like Greg, and you absolutely have to complete everything, then expect to have a pretty bad time. The 'Super-van Smash-Up' is particularly mind-numbing. The goal is to wreck three rivals. First off, it's nearly impossible to wreck someone, while driving a super-van. Secondly, there are buses that steal all of the "kills." You'd have more fun trying to squash flies with a feather.

Still, when everything clicks, Wreckfest is an exhilarating riot. Take a vehicle and load it up with armour, then smash through rivals like cardboard boxes - or, be the pipsqueak in the tiny KillerBee that evades destruction by inches. Is there someone on your tail? Try nudging the car ahead of you so that it spins out and collides with them. There are a million ways to add spice to every race. The large number of vehicles and claustrophobic tracks add to the chaos. Just try not to get caught in the "restart doldrums." If a certain mission on career mode is giving you trouble, take a break and play some single races. Better yet, go online and ruin somebody's day. Don't be like Greg and habitually restart whenever you get in an accident. Again, setting up extremely easy races is a fine way to earn credits and experience.

In most respects, the Xbox One version is a fine port. The frame-rate is a bit lacking though. While it's quite playable, anyone familiar with the original PC release is going to be disappointed. The lack of mods is also unfortunate. Content-wise, this will last a long time. Alongside the ginormous time-sink of a career mode is a generous selection of cars and tracks. It would have been nice to also have mods though, because some of them are pretty sweet. Plus there are plenty of fan-made creations that console players will be missing out on.

Screenshot for Wreckfest on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Wreckfest is at its best when you don't take it too seriously. It features a great handling model that's sufficiently deep and rewarding to master. The wild and dirty races tend to be quite enjoyable too. Of course, the chaos can sometimes become frustrating. There are few things worse than getting knocked off the track at the last possible moment. It's even more agonizing when it's not entirely your fault. Those who persevere, despite the occasional bout of unfairness, will get a lot of mileage out of this.

Developer

Bugbear

Publisher

THQ Nordic

Genre

Driving

Players

16

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date 27.08.2019   North America release date 27.08.2019   Japan release date 27.08.2019   Australian release date 27.08.2019   

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