Summary: FiringSquad’s new correspondent from across the pond, Luke Kaile, takes us hands-on with Supersonic Software’s upcoming downloadable racing combat game Wrecked: Revenge Revisited. Coming soon to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, this charming 4-player free-for-all is the spiritual successor to cult classic Mashed, released seven years ago for PC, PS2, and Xbox.
With the gaming industry’s behemoths lining up to assault our pockets with a plethora of addictive, gung-ho, online titles over the next few months, you may just miss little gems like this… FiringSquad’s new correspondent from across the pond Luke Kaile takes us hands-on with Supersonic Software’s upcoming downloadable racing combat game Wrecked: Revenge Revisited.
The year 2004 saw the release of Mashed, a game that harkened back to the days of Micro Machines with its top-down, single-camera, ‘eye-in-the-sky’ view of proceedings and elimination of stragglers who failed to keep up with the leaders. It was a small game made by an independent developer who sought to take your eyes off the big graphics-enticing blockbusters and return us to a rare thing, a stripped-down and well-executed idea that birthed endless replayability.
Mashed garnered high praise and managed some rather stealthy success, albeit without being completely accepted by the U.S. market. Its triumph seemed to rely on two principles: its incredibly intense multiplayer experience and a powerful fan base that slowly eked this title into the hands of others through word of mouth.
Seven years later, the developers at Supersonic Software have set their sights on reigniting the old magic of Mashed for Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network in the form of Wrecked: Revenge Revisited. This newest offering brings back all the gameplay that had friends crammed around their televisions, while seeking to make deft improvements and advancements to the familiar formula.
The main game mode is straightforward, with four cars rallying around one of the six tracks on offer while attacking each other with an arsenal of weaponry, as well as evading the constant hazards that occur throughout the course. Points are earned by eliminating the other three cars from the track, which can be achieved by firing them into oblivion or racing so far ahead that the opposition disappears off the tracking camera’s view.
Players continue to accumulate or lose points (by not coming in the top two) until one player reaches a set target. Victory is made harder when the crashed out players gain the ability to perform air strikes that can inflict heavy damage or confusion on a car of their choice, leading to a lot of fun bullying the current leader.
Wrecked’s magic is based on the mayhem that unfolds during a battle amongst your friends. The wild strategies and unpredictability of the game makes the multiplayer an absorbing and unique experience. In my hands-on, one of my developer opponents managed to stay alive after being spun 180º with some nifty reversing skills, only to then rattle off his machine gun backward at my shiny bonnet.
In another instance, a developer being pursued by missiles from an air strike suddenly hit the brakes and used my chasing car as a sacrificial lamb. Every race is different and every moment will see you become increasingly engrossed at trying to find a clever way to wipe out your opponents. Or, if you’re me, accidentally block a shortcut with some Austin Powers-style sideways parking and cause a pile up.
The strategy really is deep, and the developers, rather than drastically change the gameplay, have sought to keep it very similar to that of their previous titles. The additions they have made have caused more tactics to come into play, such as the inclusion of manually-activated boosts and shunting, which can be performed by flicking the right control stick.
The introduction of new air strikes is perhaps the biggest change to Wrecked’s dynamic compared to Supersonic’s previous titles, with players now offered a range of options in that regard. Two of the ones I thought were the most fun are the “Swapper” and the “Steering” air strikes. By utilizing the Swapper, crashed players can target two cars and, with a touch of a button, switch their places on the track. This can lead to cars being pulled from salvation just at the right time or, even worse, lead to players purposefully hurling themselves off cliffs in the hope that they’ll teleport back onto the track, leaving their unsuspecting opponent in free-fall.
The Steering air strike sees crashed players given the ability to modify the steering of player’s cars, causing left to become right and right become left. Whilst this may seem very much a low-key effect, the damage here comes from the speed in which the striker can consistently assault his target’s steering. With two people targeting one car using the Steering air strike, the driver is thrown into a nigh impossible battle to somehow keep his car under control.
Besides the air strikes, there is an assortment of new weapons and tracks in Wrecked. A major development is the return of the immortalized “Polar Wharf” track from Mashed, which sees racers sprint down an icy and open straight towards a disastrously tight U-bend. However, my complaints with the game lay here, with there currently being only six playable tracks (though there is DLC planned). While my point remains that the game’s sheer volatility gives enough replay value, it seems a shame that there aren’t more tracks offered at launch. In contrast, Mashed boasted a huge array of races, all with great invention.
More alterations can be made to each game before the race, with custom options allowing you to tweak it to suit your skill level, wants, or needs. If you want a full-scale weapons war, you’ve got it; if the handling is too tight (as it was for me), you can make your steering more responsive. It is a good level of detail to have and one that you would often expect to be overlooked with other XBLA titles.
It’ll be interesting to see how well-ironed out their matchmaking system and online lobbies are. This is a multiplayer game through and through, and I can’t see many people whiling away the hours on the single player mode. Supersonic haven’t neglected that aspect of the game entirely, though, having offered up several challenges and time trials for you to complete alongside the straight-up points battle. How well the computer AI performs will remain to be seen; previous incarnation Mashed coped with this reasonably well, but computer opponents lacked a certain creativity, at times seeming to be set on a rail.
The graphics have a noticeable sheen to them, with vibrant track environments, explosions, and other effects. Though they aren’t spectacular, the visuals more than suffice, which is fine because this game isn’t about that. The real joy in Wrecked will always be playing against your friends in a room so that they’re within touching distant to be hit after they shunt you off the track. With that said, if the online mode functions as it should, the promise of teaming up with a friend online for some 2v2 could certainly lead to some late nights.
Wrecked: Revenge Revisited is shaping up to be a breath of fresh air during the heavy winter gaming season ahead. It can be picked up quickly for simple play, or studied in-depth and mastered by the more hardcore. The release date is tentatively set for the next few months; be sure to check back at FiringSquad soon for an interview with Supersonic Software. In it, we discuss more about the game, its inspirations Mashed and Micro Machines, trials and tribulations of its development process, and other good stuff.
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