It is easy to get precious about racing games. To demand simulation-levels of detail to the cars, the driving physics, and endless setup options before you hit the great race tracks of the world.
However, you can go totally the other way and still come up with a superb game that is engaging and entertaining.
Welcome to Wreckfest.
Banger racing brought to life
Wreckfest, a new offering from Bugbear Entertainment & THQNordic, puts you behind the wheel of beaten up saloon cars and the occasional bus or lawnmower to enter the world of banger racing, where the objective is simply to create chaos and win races.
If you want a spectacular, crash-filled time then this game is the one for you. It combines just enough realism to feel the road during races with car customisation and utter destruction to create a game that sucks you in and keeps you playing.
Wreckfest is a spiritual successor to Bugbear's FlatOut series in which your ability to damage and spin out your opponents is just as important as your actual driving skill.
The lack of rules, from contact to corner-cutting, is a refreshing change from the ultra-realism of F1 2019. Meanwhile, the flying body work and occasional roll don't put you out of the race.
The chaos could be frustrating if it didn't have a quality damage simulator that chips away at the balance and feel of your car, which starts off superbly thanks to a wonderful handling model. You can take the races extremely seriously, trying to find the perfect line through the corners, or you can use your opponents as a means of slowing down and getting through the lap.
The AI are surprisingly good and their aggressiveness creates pile-ups, awkward taps mid-corner, and most importantly a race experience that challenges you.
The demolition derbies, efforts to simply survive and cripple others, have a little strategy in them but are mostly fun-filled chaotic intermissions between races.
Wreckfest lacks much story to its career mode. Instead it is a series of challenges, races, and derbies for you to navigate. The increasing speed and severity of the collisions force you into the garage to keep upgrading your car or buying new rides with your winnings. You'll want to add armour for the demolition derby, but then take it off to save weight for the races while improving your air intake or exhaust for that extra bit of performance.
The changes you can make to your liveries are good if slightly limited, but in the end this game is all about chaos and destruction. The races encourage carnage, with figure 8's, bonus targets for dealing damage and spinning out others, and tracks that send cars directly back into each other once the field spreads.
Wreckfest is the perfect local multiplayer game. Its chaotic racing and damage model is ideal for a quiet night in with a few friends, but like most games these days there is no local multiplayer option and that really hurts this game. The online races are good, with players taking advantage of the lack of rules to create wild races that are never the same. However, the lack of split-screen is a big drawback in this case.
Wreckfest is so unassuming that you can't help but have fun. The cars handle well and react to damage superbly. The challenge scenarios, like trying to drive a 3-wheel Supervan on an oval full of school buses, are unique and entertaining. At a price point of £34.99 for console and PC it is easy to feel like you are getting value for money.
There are a few drawbacks. Load times are long and there are few bugs in the menu but these should be corrected in a patch soon. The limitations of multiplayer is an issue for a game that doesn't totally engage you in the single player mode. Career mode isn't something you can come back to over and over like in F1 or MotoGP, but at the same time Wreckfest does not demand as much of your hard-earned money as those two. It provides a lot of entertainment for both seasoned racers and people whose only interaction with racing games is Mario Kart. There is no denying this is game is a hit.
RealSport rating: 8.4/10