Wreckfest is, quite simply, the best Flatout game to date. We thought as much last year when it released on PC, and having spent a while with the console versions that opinion hasn’t changed a bit – if anything, it’s lovely to have Bugbear’s brilliance back on console where it belongs. This review is from the PC version last year, and very much still applies to this week’s console release – though be warned that load times are excruciatingly long on Xbox One and PS4, and even playing on an Xbox One X you’re going to be falling well short of 60fps. They’re small, noticeable problems that are a shame, but don’t detract from the greatness on offer here.
It has been, you sense, a bit of a rough ride for Bugbear Entertainment. Wreckfest, which has finally left Early Access, is only the talented Finnish developer’s second game within the last decade – and the other, sadly, was Ridge Racer Unbounded, a brilliantly muscular racer that might have earned itself a place alongside close contemporaries such as Split/Second and Blur if it wasn’t for the baggage that the Ridge Racer name weighed it down with. All the while the Flatout series that made the studio’s name veered into disrepute (even if Kylotonn did restore a little pride with last year’s outing), and Wreckfest itself has never really had it easy either, birthed from a failed Kickstarter and seeing several false starts across its four years in Early Access.
The end result, after all that time and toil, is a surprisingly modest affair; a simple no-frills game that’s more Destruction Derby than Flatout, evoking a different era for the racing genre with its no-nonsense approach. Unassuming it may be, but it’s also absolutely wonderful, a knockabout racer that sticks to what Bugbear does best; this is all about cars lunching one another in a variety of events that are tuned towards maximum carnage, and as ever there’s a cathartic joy to be found in seeing fields of pre-loved machinery crumble at your fingertips.