There aren’t many developers who can wring the kind of performance that Nintendo seem to be able to eke from 5 year old hardware (well, possibly older as it’s based on the Nvidia Tegra chip but I digress) and many times we’ve seen Xbox One and PS4 games downscaled with the caveats of vastly reduced resolution, huge loading times and horrible textures.
That’s if they port the console versions down and not the mobile ones up (sideways?). Those games tend to have very little in the way of optimisations (I’m looking at YOU, House Flipper) AND look like utter garbage.
So after all that Wreckfest, I’m glad to say, is a very decent port. Yes, it runs at 30 frames and to be honest if you expected anything else then I’d like a ticket to whatever cloud cuckoo land you’re living in because we only got 60 frames on console with the Series and Playstation 5 updates. It is a solid 30 frames though. Admittedly things do dip when it gets hectic on screen and with this being a destruction derby game they absolutely do get hectic, but not to the crunching grind we’ve seen form some games, not for very long and they’re infrequent enough to be forgiven.
It’s doubly impressive when you chuck the damage up to ‘Realistic’ because it seems to be entirely intact from the other versions. There’s bound to be some corner cutting somewhere but the deformation seems at least on par with the Xbox One/PS4 versions. The undocked mode holds up very well with some resolution reduction and seems to be as solid in the frame rate as playing docked.
A very special mention has to go to the loading times. I am thoroughly impressed with the speed at which this game loads, I had the Xbox One version installed to the internal drive of my Series X because the loading times were horrendous, so whatever magic Bugbear have wrought with the conversion is very much appreciated and should absolutely be applauded.
There are some downsides. The textures are ok until you see the ones that are supposed to be words and are now just smears and blobs that are barely legible. The trackside detail is worse, with trees unlit and reduced in clarity, and other smaller things you don’t notice while racing, like the crowd has a great reduction in quality. But, to be honest, to complain about this seems a bit churlish as the game doesn’t really have any right running like it does on the Switch.
If I’m going to be honest the biggest downside to Wreckfest on the Switch is the lack of analogue triggers. Wreckfest definitely isn’t a sim, but it’s not wholly arcade either. It has a hefty sense of weight and so if you sling cars into the corners your car will just bite into its suspension and slow you down immensely. With the Xbox version you can feather and balance the accelerator and brake to control that but with the Switch you’re left with tapping the buttons rather than controlling them and it’s something I just can’t adjust to no matter how much I try to. Whether this is an actual problem is difficult to say. There are plenty of racing games on the Switch and I rarely see lack of analogue controls be a problem, but for me it is.
The peculiar thing is there’s an advanced set of options for the throttle and brake but they don’t change a thing. Maybe it’s for some compatible steering wheel. I’m too lazy to check, and besides I doubt anyone buys a crazy bonkers expensive racing wheel set up for the Switch.
Wreckfest as a game probably deserves more than the trifling lip service I’m going to give it here, but the game has been out for 4 years on other formats so I’m sure someone will have done a better review than I could, so have a google. Go on, I’m not your mum. Do your own bloody homework.
If you’ve never played it and want a decent arcade-ish racer on the go then you could do a lot worse. I always found it to be a spiteful, mean game at times but that’s part and parcel with being a demolition derby themed game. The AI will do anything to prevent you from getting ahead, and on the medium and hard difficulties they will just leave you in the dust if you make a mistake. Good thing the restarts are quick. There’s also a reset to track function but I could never catch up with them.
The gameplay also changes depending on the severity of damage modelling. Although ‘realistic’ is a bit of a misnomer as you can still drive quite functionally on 3 wheels with no engine block, but as I said earlier a sim this game is not. Realistic is absolutely the setting to play this on because hilarity always ensues.
While we’re on the ‘bad’ of the game the structure of the game is weird, it could do with a shortcut to find the exact car you need to buy for a specific car class and region race, it doesn’t tell you the requirements to open up later championships, the gimmick races are horrific and the music is diabolical. But once you’re versed in its quirks (and if you can adjust to non-analogue acceleration) overall it’s a worthy racer that stands out from the admittedly not exactly saturated genre on the Switch.