Wreckfest cover art with a white car rising into the air after being struck

Wreckfest, it’s not a pengiun

Wreckfest is to racing what penguins are to birds. It’s racing but it doesn’t have proper wings, uh no, it’s racing, but it smells of fish. I don’t know anymore but I can say that Wreckfest is a seriously fun game.

Crashing isn’t fun though is it? I knocked a guy off of his lawnmower and then ran over him a few times just to watch his limp body rag doll around. That was fun. I also jumped on to the top of another car and dented it so badly it was in the shape of an L. I liked that.

Wreckfest image showing a white car crashing with others on a race course as bits of cars fly into the air and steam rises from the hood

If you are a super serious racer type with a direct drive wheel and wouldn’t dream of racing without your driving gloves then you will like Wreckfest, equally, if you are a casual racer and you will be playing with your Xbox controller whilst sat on your sofa in your pants eating Dairy Lee triangles and drinking soda, you will like Wreckfest, in fact, if you are a gamer, you will like Wreckfest. It’s seriously good.

When you look past the physics-based damage modelling and the sheer fun of smashing through a fence to see the tyre wall explode over the track as you scream around a corner sideways, what you are left with is a great racing game with a fabulous career mode and a superbly fun and friendly online community. 

Wreckfest image showing a red car racing down a dirt track and a dust cloud is in the distance

Single player consists of some free racing, essentially single events where you choose what and how you race and a campaign mode which is essentially a Championship mode. In each championship there will be several different types of races, they could be Banger Racing, Deathmatch, Demolition, Head to Head and more. There are also some novel races such as Folk which sees fewer competitors racing front wheel drive only cars or my favourite mode, Survival. In survival, you will be driving a Reliant Robin. For those of you who don’t know what that is it is a three-wheeled car that not only falls over but is also incredibly weak. You must take this car around a course a certain number of times while American school buses try and destroy you. Its incredibly good fun and quite literally mental. Within these races, there will also be a certain number of challenges. For example, you may need to win by a certain distance or cause a set amount of damage. They are not essential to win the race but they add a little something to make each race even more interesting.

Wreckfest image showing a car skidding around a corner as smoke pours from its tyres

For example, in one championship you play a demolition derby in combine harvesters. You have to wreck 3 vehicles to complete the challenge. If you complete the challenge you will win a combine harvester. However, to win the derby you will need to wreck at least 10 as every time I have played the second place AI player has wrecked at least that many other vehicles.

You cannot just show up and win unless you have the game set to easy mode. You need to race, to win a championship you may need to avoid crashing to guarantee a podium however, in Wreckfest, that isn’t as easy as going fast.

I was in a 5 race championship, it was the last race and as long as I finished above 5th I would be champion provided I also made sure “Pete” finished behind me. I had a good starting position and Pete was just in front. I took a calculated risk and decided I would smash Pete into the barrier on the first corner and then he would be way down the field. I executed that part of my plan flawlessly. Pete was crushed but at the next corner, I was spun off the track by Master Yoda and his speedbird. I was filled with rage, I was back in 12th but at least Pete was behind me.

Wreckfest image showing a red and white car going head to head down a dirt track

I gained ground very quickly and was soon in 7th behind Master Yoda. I should have passed him and carried on to victory, what actually happened was that I spent the reminder of the first lap angrily trying to pass and then decided to smash his car into a wall. Lap 2 and I am in 6th place with Master Yoda right behind me, he hits me again and passes on the inside. There is a crash up ahead and he and I move into 4th and 5th position. I am exactly where I need to be, if I keep chasing I will win the championship. However, on the second to last corner, I have the opportunity to smash him into the wall. I have two choices, stay where I am, win the championship or take revenge.

After crushed him into the wall and flipped my car I was overtaken and came 3rd in the championship. I was elated, I had crushed my rival. I can try to win again later.

Car handling in Wreckfest is best described as slippery. Nearly every vehicle is tail happy and you drift around most corners controlling the slide with the accelerator and careful steering inputs. This sounds like a lot of work but its about as much fun as you can have in a racing game however, a word of warning. Do not drift your car when the wife and kids are in it IRL. There will be far more arguing and no cheering so don’t do it, even if there is gravel and no one is around.

Unlocking better vehicles and parts is done through the championship mode and whilst there are numerous parts to add and customizations to make to the vehicles they never really felt like they made much of a difference to my vehicles. Its great to have it and I liked tweaking and playing around with each vehicle I just wish I felt there was a bigger difference between pre and post upgrade.

The sound is flawless, metal on metal gravel under the wheels or hurtling through a fence the sound is never dull and is how I would imagine hitting a fence at 80MPH sounds.

The AI is a little over aggressive but given the nature of Wreckfest, I think its proportionate and despite a few times I felt that it was unfair, overall it’s a very good balance.

Wreckfest image showing a red car with the front smashed in and a grey background

Online Wreckfest is an entirely different beast. The racing is frantic, the wins are few and far between and most of the time every race is about doing damage to one another. Its about as much fun as I have ever had in an online racing game. Cornering online is about either using someone else to reduce your speed or, and this is the best when it works, breaking early so that whoever was going to slam into you on the turn overshoots leaving themselves exposed so you can ram them into the barrier.

It doesn’t always work and in my experience, someone is always better however, if you play destruction derby its anyone’s game. You can be as cautious as you like, initially I employed a tactic from my days of playing Destruction Derby but you cannot watch every direction all of the time so if you try and be an outlier you will get slammed at some point and because you are the furthest from the chaos, they will have had plenty of time to pick up speed and fold you in two.

Graphically the game is fabulous. Huge chunks of the cars are thrown off when hit sure but hit a tyre wall or break through a fence and thousands of particles will fly off and litter the track. They will be there next lap too and with my GTX980 and i7 4790k, neither of which has been overclocked I am yet to witness a graphical slow down with everything set to max, except for motion blur, because only an idiot plays games with motion blur switched on.

Wreckfest image showing a red blue and yellow car about to enter a demolition derby the driver has on a white helmet

Whilst the comparatively gentlemanly racing games, Project Cars, Forza, Assetto Corsa and so on will always be considered “real” racing games I don’t think there is a gamer alive who would say anything other than Wreckfest is a superb and fun game.

Wreckfest is more than worth the price, sure, you may not be playing Wreckfest all day every day for weels and months to come but I can assure you that it will remain installed and in your regularly played list. It’s too much fun and you will never tire of the destruction you can cause.

  • 91%
    Gameplay - 91%
  • 96%
    Graphics - 96%
  • 90%
    Sound - 90%
  • 71%
    Longevity - 71%
  • 88%
    Value - 88%
87.2%

Summary

A superbly fun and enjoyable racing game

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