Game review - Wreckfest (Playstation 4/Xbox One): 9/10
If you have ever had the good fortune of playing and enjoying the madly brilliant, beautifully bugged and wholly unfinished racing simulator Beam NG Drive, then Wreckfest will feel like you've finally caught your white whale.
Wreckfest has all of NG Drive's fabulous physics and damage simulation, as well as its commendable handling mechanics, but also feels like a completely polished and finished article. In a time where racing games have veered towards the cutting edge of simulation without any of the whimsy, Wreckfest feels like a much-needed compromise between serious racing and all-out fun.
Wreckfest is, at its heart, a demolition derby game. But don't be deceived by its metal-rending trappings - under the hood there is a serious racer that has been designed by people who are serious about car racing.
Where the tracks and vehicles themselves are bonkers, the underlying mechanisms are surprisingly nuanced for a game of this type. American muscle cars and articulated trucks will bat aside opponents like flies, but feel hulking and slow, whereas their nimble European and Asian counterparts will dart around, albeit while posessing a much lesser degree of physical intimidation.
This marriage of all-out-destruction to a very highly refined driving model makes Wreckfest a highly replayable game. The eschewing of arcade mechanics definitely makes for a game that feels a lot less throwaway when compared to Wreckfest's contemporaries, with the obvious one being Burnout.
While the nuanced take on the driving half of Wreckfest is impressive, the driving is just that - only half of the game. Luckily, the other half - the smashing - is equally as impressive and a great deal more exhilerating. Even the small cars have a definite weight and the developers have clearly done their best to impress upon you how much damage even small cars can wreak upon their foes.
The soft-body dynamics means that your little Escort MK2 (not actually called that in the game but is an unmistakeable facsimile) can be beaten so far beyond recognition that you wouldnt be able to tell it from a Mini Cooper.
Wreckfest is an absolutely brilliant game, and one that is equally accessible for petrol heads and casual gamers alike. If you like demolition derby games but can't stand the bombastic arcade shtick, then this may well be your game.