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Published 28.11.2022 00:00
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Wreckfest review

As its name implies, Bugbear's Wreckfest is all about vehicular wreckage. With an impressive physics engine and detailed modeling, everything from the ride-on lawn mowers to giant harvesters smash up really nicely. As cool as all of it can look, though, Wreckfest rarely feels very good, which is the core issue with the game and overall experience.

Smash em' up

Wreckfest is largely set up like a very typical racing game. You start with access to a limited set of vehicles to choose from that you can take into single races or use in a single-player campaign, and as a result of participating you gradually build up currency and earn unlocks that give you access to more vehicles and customization options.

The primary twist (and what Wreckfest hangs its hat on) is that in all of these events focus on your ability to shunt other drivers into walls, force them to spin out, etc. There are also some events that aren't even races, but rather are like a demolition derby where everyone drives around an arena hitting each other until only one driver is left with a driveable vehicle.

Detailed damage

Along with the encouragement to smash up the competition, Wreckfest rewards you with some impressive damage modeling to bend, scrape, and peel off nearly every facet of every vehicle until they are barely recognizeable. Even on mobile devices, the level of detail on display to show this destruction is really impressive, though your mileage can vary with regard to frame rate and rendering resolutions depending on what model device you're playing on.

Speaking of details, Wreckfest also offers an array of customization options beyond visual fidelity. Each car can be tuned to pretty exacting specifications, and can also be decked out with a lot of different paint options. All told, there's quite a bit to sink your teeth into and this mobile version doesn't really seem to compromise all that much if at all.

Look vs. feel

As impressive as Wreckfest looks, I do find its gameplay a bit disappointing. Massive multi-car wrecks can look incredibly impressive, but those don't come along that often because bumping and driving in this game doesn't feel all that good or impactful. There's just not a very good sense of speed in the game, so it constantly feels like you're crawling along, and this gets reinforced by impacts that only occasionally feel violent and fast.

It also probably doesn't help that Wreckfest seems to be a bit buggy. In my time with the game, I had moments where the gas pedal stopped working or cars just clipped through each other instead of colliding. These bugs were few and far between, but they did hamper what was already shaping up to be a somewhat underwhelming driving experience.

The bottom line

I don't know if it's the kind of realism Wreckfest is chasing or just some technical issues, but the game could stand to add some arcade-y "oomf" to its collisions. Or some speed. Anything, really. Outside of being a pretty good-looking game with highly detailed modeling, the racing experience of Wreckfest is rather dull.

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