Seeing as how Wreckfest is a spiritual sequel to the Flatout series, let me tell you an adorable short tale. When I was younger I asked my grandparents for a copy of Flatout on the PS2. The commercials I saw on TV just made the game look hilarious and who doesn’t love crashing stuff or people through windows in a weird attempt at bowling. Both unfortunately and fortunately they ended up getting confused and bought me Burnout: Revenge instead. I would like to believe this led to a gaming road that made me who I am today including two P12 Diamonds to my name from Burnout Paradise. Now that one fork in the road has been completed by my grandparents so many years ago, why not jump on in and try Flatout? Or at the very least its current form by Bugbear Entertainment.
The story or campaign here acts in the form of a career mode where there’s six different areas with a board of events to complete. The further down any given collection of events will be locked until the previous ones are completed to Wreckfest’s satisfaction. So you’ll need to actually win a few races or demo challenges to move on up. For the most part it’s pretty straightforward as there’s a set amount of points you can earn which will tally up in the individual areas. Additionally each event will have bonus objectives that don’t contribute towards the career goal, rather give out in-game currency for upgrades, shop purchases, and the like. Plus, the majority of the time not all courses will have to be attempted as the point thresholds are pretty forgiving***. Although with how fun this game is I don’t see why one wouldn’t try everything on offer. Essentially the singleplayer is set up like many modern racers of today.
Since there’s no string of cutscenes or story, and who honestly would want that for this type of experience, gameplay is Wreckfest’s proverbial bread and butter. Without a doubt it shines like a delicious, mid-2000’s, arcade racer. Yes, I used the word delicious to talk about cars. Have you ever tried eating a car? Alright then. Core gameplay is and can be nicely tuned. The cars handle incredibly well with a nice touch of believable momentum and the feeling of just driving what are essentially derby cars is fantastic. Although drifting and turning will require some adjusting periods, I found myself enjoying this overall change of pace. Especially when you can minorly change your desired car’s suspension, gear ratio, differential, and brake balance in the garage menu. Settings to adjust steering, saturation, and dead zones also appear.
Actual game modes within the career mode are on a whole other fun level compared to the racing genre nowadays. Instead of focusing on getting the fastest time, beating developer time trials, or grinding out different tracks, Wreckfest focuses on destruction and mayhem. Outside of racing modes anyway and even then you’re encouraged to rough up your opponents’ metal machines. There’s all sorts of outlandish and hilarious game modes like a demolition derby with lawn mowers or farm harvesters, surviving on a race track as a box car surrounded by literal school buses, being the school bus on a raceway demolishing box cars, or just a mode that focuses on causing as much damage to normal cars as possible.
This is also where Wreckfest shines. Its sound effects, damage physics, and damage repercussions add a whole layer of intrigue. Pileups of twenty or more cars were always pleasurable to behold and the physics of car destruction is some of the best I’ve seen in years. Watching a bus careen on it’s side over and over again or being able to drive with half a car missing can only be described so much before you have to experience it yourself. What’s more is that when your car takes damage from others, or your own reckless driving, you can actually affect the survivability of your vehicle. So if one of the individual tires get damaged your car will act like it would in real life to an extent. Same goes for the brakes and suspensions and you’ll find yourself manageably slipping and sliding every which way with joy.
Other game modes include being able to create your own match with different tracks, cars, settings, and difficulty and multiplayer. You can also customize and upgrade many different aspects of these vehicles and straight up purchase new ones in the garage with in-game currency. Some will be level restricted before they can be used. In typical fashion I was unable to find any fellow reviewers to play with, but I just know online will be so much fun when the game releases to the public. Gamers can get together through quick search or join servers tailored for racing, demolitions, special vehicles only, or a mix of everything. I cannot wait to squeal with childish glee as I destroy other adults’ digital, derby, metal traps. Again short of Split/Second’s environment leveling, Wreckfest will please any destruction aficionado.
Graphics are passable enough for a destructive PlayStation 4 title, but that’s where the technical expertise stops I’m afraid. Wreckfest is full of big issues off the tarmac and dirt to the point where I feel the developers should know better. Sometimes menus take a while to navigate or even load to be selectable and loading screens too. Except with them they may just freeze entirely and require a reboot. This happened to me at least ten times in my eight or so hours with the title and I’m just glad that it saved after every event. Granted we were told these two problems would be fixed or improved in the Day 1 patch, but still rightfully annoying to go through. Human spectators or workers on the sides of a few tracks would glitch onto the runway and disappear before you approached them too. This did make it difficult to judge an upcoming turn once or twice. Lastly, nearly every time my generic racer made his way to the podium area after a race, his arm would warp and fist bump at inexplicable angles. Counting my XP and CR earnings always brought a touch of horror seeing a human designed arm act like that.
Wreckfest PS4 Review
Overall - Fantastic - 8.5/10
Wreckfest brings me back to the happy days of Burnout, Need for Speed, Ridge Racer, and more. Sadly, it brings along problems of that bygone era to the point you can’t believe these were overlooked. Still the carnage, wacky game modes, and good ol’ racing fun overcome these tall barriers. I truly don’t remember being angry once when I had to restart the game many different times. There’s a beauty in simplicity here and Wreckfest should be in any arcade racing fan’s library.
- Wonderful arcade racing fun
- Crashing mechanics are delightful
- A mid-2000’s racer fan’s dream
- A host of blatant technical problems
- Apparent glitch that prevents events from unlocking which halts progress in career mode
Reviewed using PS4 Pro.