Gen­er­ally, when it comes to rac­ing games, in my opin­ion there’s Wipe­Out, Mario Cart, and then ev­ery­thing else just… Well let’s just say I’m no sim fan. Or real rac­ing fan. Or some­one who can ac­tu­ally drive or who cares about cars. In fact, I’m the last per­son who should be get­ting ex­cited over a rac­ing game, but here we are.

Wreck­fest is a god­damn DE­LIGHT. It kind of came out of nowhere for me, de­spite it’s years in early ac­cess (see above, re: rac­ing noob), so get­ting into it now makes it feel like one of the most pol­ished games I’ve played in years – pe­riod. It’s strik­ing to look at, fea­tures a bang­ing rock soundtrack, and looks ab­so­lutely amaz­ing. But even more amaz­ing is that it’s a rac­ing game that’s got­ten me ut­terly hooked with­out be­ing about zero-g hov­er­cars or mush­room laden race­tracks.

And de­spite the name and de­mo­li­tion derby fo­cus, this is a rac­ing game. Sure, there are ‘tracks’ that are very much fo­cused on de­struc­tion, and the var­i­ous lawn­mower modes – yes, you can race in, and cause hi­lar­i­ously over the top car­nage in ride-on lawn­mow­ers – are pure spec­ta­cle, but most ev­ery­thing comes down to rac­ing nerd pu­rity.

The truly ex­cep­tional thing, how­ever, is how ap­proach­able it all is. By de­fault there’s a tonne of rac­ing as­sists turned on, and it’ll sur­prise no one that I have not both­ered to turn any of them off. I leave that kind of malarkey to my col­league Ben Man­sill, who – with his epic sim-rac­ing rig and hy­per-re­al­is­tic pe­riph­er­als – im­me­di­ately dove in to the game in its hard­est, most de­mand­ing set­tings (and loves the game as much as I do, which is re­ally some­thing).

Me? I just want to race, smash stuff up, and not have to bother with a ded­i­cated con­troller. Yes, I’m play­ing a rac­ing game on my key­board. In fact, I’m play­ing a rac­ing game on my key­board and I’m only us­ing the cur­sor keys. But with just those four con­trols, I’m still need to tune my car to the track. For gravel and mud trucks, I need to soften the sus­pen­sion to keep road con­tact; for proper rac­ing sur­faces, I want stiffer sus­pen­sion. This is stuff that used to not only bore me silly, but also in­tim­i­dated the heck out of me in my pre­vi­ous for­ays into rac­ing games.

Here I am to­tally in­vested. I aim for the proper rac­ing line on each cor­ner, take care to brake into a curve and ac­cel­er­ate out, and all the while know that if I re­ally need to, I can just ram that damn car in front of me off the track and no one is go­ing to care.

Well, the crowd does, and they go wild each time. The game’s dam­age model is for­giv­ing at first, but con­stant con­tacts can de­stroy your en­gine, twist wheels out of align­ment, or see you los­ing brak­ing pres­sure. Wrecks and other de­bris lit­ter the track, so each lap gets more and more like thread­ing a nee­dle – es­pe­cially when it’s a fig­ure-eight track, or a track that loops back along­side it­self. One false move and you’re in a near-fa­tal head-on col­li­sion that will al­most cer­tainly end your race. Re­sets are easy, but usu­ally cost you places, or you can just hand­ily restart.

Af­ter tak­ing ad­van­tage of the game’s photo mode, of course, to the most of your dra­matic demise.

You can un­lock new cars, and up­grade var­i­ous car parts and bits of ar­mour in what is ba­si­cally a bal­anc­ing act be­tween horse-power and weight, but re­ally, it’s all about that pure rac­ing adren­a­line.

And smash­ing things. Smash­ing lots of things. And it is good.


Genre: rac­ing • De­vel­oper: Bug­bear En­ter­tain­ment • Pub­lisher: THQ NORDIC Plat­form: PC www.wreck­festgame.com

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