A party of twisted metal and screeching wheels. Crash physics haven’t felt this good for a long time, but they sure looked better.

We had a lot of arcade racing games in these past few weeks, but we haven’t had a proper demolition derby for a while.

Luckily, Wreckfest is here to make amends for the aggressive racing subgenre.

Wreckfest is not a game where you’ll be racing futuristic cars at high speeds, or take breathtaking leaps at extreme speeds while pulling over-the-top takedowns. Instead, Wreckfest is your down-and-dirty, greasy, metal-twisting, paint scratching demolition derby.

There’s something very down to earth and cathartic in a game where people bring their pimped-up hunks of junk and race/destroy each other.

Wreckfest offers a career mode, custom tracks, and a custom multiplayer mode. There will be additional content in the future, including what looks a lot like a stunt mode, like the good old fashioned Flatout 2 which was also developed by Bugbear Entertainment.

The career mode takes you through many different tracks in many different game modes and keeps offering you new experiences as you advance through it. While most of the time you race with faster cars against faster opponents in increasingly challenging tracks, the game isn’t afraid to throw a curveball with races against… different vehicles.

Whether it’s a three-wheeled taxi, a school bus or a lawnmower, these unique races are usually funny and exciting. You never know what to expect from these vehicles (and because simulated school bus crashes are both terrifying and spectacular to behold).

Of course, even when you’re not racing with these unique vehicles, Wreckfest provides a solid racing experience. Races are intense, with up to 24 racers on the track at once, which means you have plenty of cars to crash into and a lot of excitement all around. Nothing beats coming around the bend right into an opposing vehicle, knocking it off track, and never having to hit the breaks even once.

But the real deal in Wreckfest is the demolition derbies.

Wreckfest demolition derby

Whether it’s a last-man-standing (last-car-driving) or a deathmatch, Wreckfest’s crash physics is always fun to experiment with. No matter what you do, if it’s landing on a car from above, or pummeling it into a wall, it’s all so very satisfying.

When you’re not racing or bashing cars, you’ll most likely spend time in the garage, buying cars, upgrading and customizing them.

Most car parts aren’t expensive, and won’t require a lot of grinding to unlock. You almost always have new parts to buy and use to upgrade your cars, and a constant sense of progression.

I did find myself having to grind while playing through the career mode, mostly when I needed to earn enough money to buy a new type of car that I needed for a race. Since the tracks can be very unexpected, it was a reasonably bearable grind that never got too repetitive.

Wreckfest also gives you the unique option to downgrade a high-tier car instead of upgrading a low-tier car, which means that with sufficient progress you can use almost any vehicle in any race. This also means that if you have a favorite car, you can keep using it throughout the entire game.

Apart from unlocking new cars and upgrades, you have some options to customize your motorized battering ram visually. You can add spoilers, different wheels, custom exhaust pipes and more. There isn’t a lot of variety when it comes to visual customization, but it is fun to experiment with different looks.

Paintjobs, however, are disappointingly limited. You can pick the overall shade, the pattern of the decals and their color; that’s about it. The cars in Wreckfest aren’t all that interesting visually, which is a shame. It’s much more satisfying when the car getting mangled beyond recognition is a fancy-looking one.

Wreckfest races

Wreckfest plays well, with responsive controls and entertaining core experience. Sadly, it does not have the aesthetics to compliment it.

Even when your car gets very damaged, it doesn’t look any more detailed than what Flatout 2 looked like twelve years ago. It’s a shame since the crash physics would have looked amazing with more polygons.

The tracks themselves also suffer from this lack of detail and generally resemble games from over ten years ago. The trees look like cardboard props, and the audience watching the races from the bleachers are flat. While the physics and gameplay do such an excellent job at keeping you immersed in the game, the visuals really take you out of it.

On the other hand, every crash sounds like something you wouldn’t want your insurance company to hear. The screeching sounds of metal hitting metal are music to my ears, and the crunching noises of crumbling car parts are a twisted delight to listen to.

The cars’ engines roar in different tones too, and the various surfaces you drive over sound just like they should.

Wreckfest cars

Unfortunately, the music isn’t as good. While the menus had drum n’ bass music that I enjoyed, the races themselves featured music ranging from punk rock to hard rock and metalcore, which I did not enjoy at all. But even so, I was always in the mood for racing and pulverizing vehicles, so I guess the soundtrack does the trick.

Even though it doesn’t sound or look its best, Wreckfest is a festival of car destruction. The career mode gives a great sense of progression, and you will always be chasing a new car or part to buy.

Whether it’s a race or a demolition derby, hitting other cars hasn’t felt this good in a long time, and fans of the subgenre will undoubtedly be delighted.


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