Xbox Live Arcade title
Publisher 505 Games
This game was provided free of charge by 505 Games for review.
The games industry is very much like a Lion pride. Studios come and go while only the best are left to rule. Many come to challenge the alpha studios rule and while the majority fall, some are left victorious. In Supersonic Software’s case, they stand as an aged pack leader, remembered for the cult classics Mashed and Micro Machines but knocked from the top spot long ago by younger studios. Now, they’ve built up enough courage to challenge the pack again after staying silent for so long and Wrecked is their latest attempt to stay in the game. Unfortunately for Supersonic though, sometimes it’s better to when to throw in the towel…
A sequel to 2004’s Mashed in all but the name, Wrecked doesn’t venture far from its predecessors. A ‘top-down’ arcade racer, and I use the word top-down lightly due to the shoddy camera work, you would expect it to at least be your average mayhem filled fun fest. A game you can stick on for a few minutes to play with your friends after the thrill of flying jets and pew-pewing bad guys gets old. Sadly, whereas Micro Machines still holds many fond memories of skidding round picnic baskets and jumping over jam jars, Wrecked takes Mashed in all its retro glory, slaps a slightly shinier coat of nostalgia on top and then proceeds to add in a few annoying flaws for good measure.
You know the drill: race a miniature car around a track with three other guys before you get zapped by the elimination line that steadily encroaches on the leader or blow them all to hell with the various weapon pick-ups conveniently littering the track. Earn enough points and you’ll fill your score meter, taking the winning title and earning you XP to unlock new cars and customisation gear. Not that these options are explained in any way, making them seem merely cosmetic in value however. Granted, it’s a formula that worked well back in the 90’s but without anything new to bring to the table it’s a hard pill to swallow at 1200 Microsoft points. What really adds insult to injury is the frankly ludicrous day one DLC which clocks in at 400 Microsoft points.
What you get for your money is six tracks that would take your granny less time to navigate than a roundabout and with generic names such as Jungle Temple and Arctic Outpost it’s not hard to see why they are all ultimately forgettable. Few will challenge the average gamer, with the controls providing more challenge and frustration than the actual tracks themselves. The exception to this is the blatant remake of the Polar Wharf track from Mashed, a layout of two long frozen straights linked by a tight hairpin at either end. It’s a shame, yet again, that the only feature that makes the game slightly memorable is something directly copied from its predecessor.
Unfortunately multiplayer is the only place you’ll be seeing any type of racing with the singleplayer aspect being little more than challenges such as time trials and demolition derby. There’s a bit of fun to be had after you’ve slogged through the majority of the frankly boring challenges to then be rewarded with ones such as towing caravans and driving around with the throttle stuck open. With no AI support for actual races though it’s not hard to see someone without a gold membership giving the game a miss if they’re without friends for local play.
While the flimsy singleplayer might have been easy to forgive in favour of the traditional multiplayer action it’s still a mixed bag of frustration and silly problems that could easily have been avoided. As mentioned, the ‘top-down’ camera is dubious at best, starting off rather well at the beginning of the race but as soon as you hit a corner it’s as if the expert camera man’s been swapped out for a heroine junky riding a bull. The camera swings around at weird angling, zooming in and out at random places and generally causing mayhem on the track. While you’d usually want that mayhem from a top-down racer the frustration of tipping over the edge of the track sets in rather rapidly when it’s more the sluggish controls and the dodgy camera’s fault than your bad driving skills.
On top of that the frame-rate seems to have taken some lessons from its jittery camera buddy. What should be an easily playable title in this era filled with such monsters as Battlefield 3, Wrecked is instead plagued by frame-rate issues that cause the game to stutter along at the oddest of times, often justifying the rage-quit infested online multiplayer. The baffling weapon balancing doesn’t help things either on the multiplayer front with some pick-ups being pretty much useless in the face of much more overpowered options. The machine gun for example seems more designed to damage other players frame-rates than their vehicles while the shocker is able to send cars veering off course at random which is, suffice to say, equally rage inducing. It’s by sheer luck that combat is won rather than by using any real skill as the game engine sends your cars spinning away at the mere sight of a stray tire in the road. Of course this makes for some fun in the unintentional mayhem but it’s widely overruled by the glaring problems the game suffers from.
And it doesn’t stop at gameplay. Even before you start a race the interface is a challenge in itself. The lobby, menus and matchmaking in general are crude at best, with the system thinking it’s perfectly OK to boot everyone to the main menu should someone drop out of multiplayer. Which is often considering Wrecked’s track record for rage inducing moments, not owing in any part to intentional gameplay decisions but rather to the glaring flaws already mentioned. This usually results in someone rage-quitting, making the average match count towards nothing if someone decides to leave. Already this is being exploited, adding insult to injury as players drop out when losing as well as other hidden exploits that make defeat a regular occurence without even finishing a race and causing victories to be ultimately forgettable. And that is Wreaked’s main problem.
It’s a forgettable title. From the thinly spread singleplayer to it’s frustrating multiplayer experience there is little to like. The frame-rate is poor compared to even the most graphically intensive games on offer with camera usage that would make even the most self obsessed Myspace girl look like the next Picasso. All this is wrapped up in an overly expensive package with a day one DLC that would rival Mass Effect 3’s controversial community splitting ability if the game actually had a community to split in the first place. All in all Wrecked is a train wreck of a game, tarnishing the memories of SuperSonic Software’s glory days of Micro Machine’s and instead showing that Wrecked is yet another poor copy and paste cash in from a studio that unfortunately haven’t caught up with the times.
+ Brings Back The Days Of Micro Machines and Mashed
+ Enjoyable Enough In Split Screen Mode
– Poor Camera Control
– Shoddy Frame-rate Issues
– Lacking Variety Of Tracks
– Many Glaring Flaws Both Online and Offline
Essentially Mashed graphics with some added bloom and upped resolution. There’s nothing new to see here but it looks nice enough.
Lots of vroom vroom but not a much else to set this apart from a trip to your local motorway…
Story?! This is a racing game dammit not a JRPG!
Frustrating throughout, while the essence of the game is still there the camera, frame-rate and controls outshine the traditional gameplay.
Fun enough if you can find a few friends to coerce into playing the split-screen multiplayer but don’t expect anything to rival a match of Forza or Blur any time soon.
The Verdict: 3
If you’re looking for a game to rekindle your nostalgia for top-down driving games, go out and buy a copy of Micro Machines. Unfortunately this copy paste cash-in only serves as a reminder of how far gaming has come since its infancy…