Wrecked Revenge Racing, the spiritual successor to Supersonic Software’s cult PS2/360 release Mashed, arrives tyres screaming onto Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network. Does it cross the finish line in first place or does it end up suffering a blow out?
The racing action in Wrecked is viewed from a top down perspective, retaining the original feel of Mashed (which in turn was clearly influenced by the likes of the seminal title Micro Machines). Gameplay consists of various challenges in single player, while multiplayer centres around team or free for all races. Each successfully completed event rewards the player with either a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal depending on the requirements met along with a points bonus which can be used to unlock new cars and paint jobs, etc.
Track selection here is somewhat weak with the requisite Jungle, Ice and Desert tracks making an appearance, but all of them are so utterly forgettable the player will struggle to remember either names or specifics about them after playing. The look of the game is distinctly low resolution with jaggy textures even on the on-screen prompts – the feeling is one of “this will do”, with nothing exceptional or given a high level of polish.
In single player, the Challenges are divided into four distinct categories: Speed, Weapons, Skill and Elite. Speed and Weapons are self explanatory, while Skill asks the player to negotiate tracks while the accelerator is jammed down, or while towing a caravan which causes the car to fishtail wildly.
While this might sound like fun, the final selection, Elite, will cause many to tear their hair out in frustration, since it seems to boil down to nothing more than random chance. Trying to negotiate narrow tracks in a car which has a bomb strapped to it is bad enough, but the floaty handling and obstacles that are placed outside the field of vision, right on the final bend, makes for a frustrating experience. Gaining a Bronze medal, let alone aiming for the higher echelons, is purely the preserve of those with a sadomasochistic streak to say the least. Any fun from events, such as having to post a fast lap while towing a caravan, or collecting coins dotted around a track made of ice, is soon wiped out by the other frustrations.
Ultimately the problem with Wrecked lies in the fact that everything from the handling of the cars, to the menus, to the action, all feels incredibly dated. The single player challenge mode is light on content to say the least, while the cars have little or no sensation of speed thanks to a handling model that creates a disconnected experience. The player knows they’re racing and power-sliding around corners but somehow they can’t connect with the action they’re witnessing onscreen. It’s disconcerting to say the least, and leaves little or no impression which is probably the most damning thing about the whole Wrecked experience. If they’d imbued the cars and tracks with more memorable designs, or even the semblance of character, it might’ve saved the whole thing from appearing to be so bland and damned ordinary.
The one saving grace is that it somehow manages to be a fun but derivative experience in multiplayer, both online and offline. Races suddenly become frenetic as everyone dashes for their favorite power-ups that are placed in devilish locations on the track, encouraging risk for reward. Wrecking opponents to survive long enough to win a round is a fun experience. It’s just a pity that this care wasn’t shown towards putting together the rest of the game.
Probably the biggest issue people will have with Wrecked is when it comes to the price and its attitude towards Downloadable Content right from the very start. When you factor in the cost of the game, currently set at 1200 Microsoft Points (£10 / $15), with release day DLC coming in at a hefty 400 Points (£3 / $5), it runs the risk of alienating even the most dedicated fans of these types of games and automatically splits the user base. A lot of games this reviewer attempted online couldn’t go ahead due to not having the requisite DLC installed -it’s one thing to support a game with additional content, but an entirely different matter to force their hand so blatantly when they’ve literally started out in a game, leaving them feeling left behind through no fault of their own.
The overriding feeling that permeates throughout Wrecked is one of disappointment. It almost feels like a download title from the very beginning of Xbox Live Arcade / PlayStation Network, not something that should exist given just how far things have progressed in the past six or seven years. This makes it hard to recommend to even the most diehard Mashed fan, ultimately ending up the real shame in amongst all this.