A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that WreckFest is a "demolition derby"-style racing game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. There's no actual plot to the gameplay; instead, players compete in no-holds-barred racing events to destroy their competition's vehicles. Whether playing solo or online, players can choose from a variety of vehicles – including over-the-top ones like Lawnmowers and school buses – and are encouraged to make it first to the finish line (in circuit modes), as well as inflict as much damage and destruction possible. Drivers’ bodies may eject from the vehicles, with “rag-doll” physics, and may fall on the track and be driven over, although no blood or gore is shown. Some lyrics make reference to drugs and violence, but otherwise, there's no inappropriate content. While billboards advertise fictional products, some cars are real licensed machines from manufacturers such as Honda.
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What's it about?
WRECKFEST is a no-holds-barred “full contact” racer that challenges you to make it first to the finish line in the dirt and asphalt circuit modes using any way possible to accomplish the task. There are also destruction derby and other arena modes. Players can choose the damage level they prefer: normal (ironically over-the-top) and realistic. You’ll choose from one of many different vehicles, including some crazy choices - like RVs, school buses, crop dusters, motorized couches, and double-decker cars -- and several customization options, such as roll cages, bumpers, and nitro fuel boosts. Along with solo races, challenge and career modes, the game allows you to enter multiplayer matches to “wreck” your friends online.
Is it any good?
If it’s an over-the-top destruction derby-style racer you’re after, this is refreshingly different, fusing destruction with deep customization, physics, and modes to indulge in. It might take a few events around a track in Wreckfest to fully appreciate the attention to detail, here, including the tight and responsive handling of your vehicles (which really do feel different depending on which ride you’re in). You'll also pick up on how damage affects your vehicle’s handling, learning the nuances of the dirt and paved tracks, and straddling the balance between making it to the finish line before others (in circuit racing) and causing a tactical collision (or better yet, a multi-car pileup) to give you an edge. And yes, there are straightforward Destruction Derby and Dirt Showdown modes, which is a large and often messy area to smash up rival vehicles before they can do the same to you. As you likely know, the last person whose vehicle can be driven wins the match.
While not the sharpest or most striking game graphically, Wreckfest looks great and runs smoothly with elements that compliment the gameplay (including good music and sound effects). The multiplayer and career modes should help keep this game enjoyable over a long period of time, but it might feel repetitive playing the single player races over and over. While you might not have heard about Wreckfest, this $40 gem is worth picking up for driving fans, kart racing lovers, and others who might enjoy an unadulterated smash-em-up racer.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Wreckfest affected by the fact that the point of the game is to smash and destroy rival cars? Does the impact matter if the gameplay is over the top and unrealistic? Would it be intensified if there was blood and gore shown?
What's the appeal of potentially racing and smashing cars? Is it the rush of cars going fast? The possibility of danger around every curve? The thrill of competition?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: THQ Nordic
- Release date: August 27, 2019
- Genre: Racing
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Magic and Fantasy, Science and Nature
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Lyrics, Mild Violence
- Last updated: June 21, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.