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Wrecked: Revenge Revisited (Xbox 360) artwork

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited (Xbox 360) review

"With three friends at your side, there are few other titles out there thatíll reveal your ugliest competitive streak quite so vividly. "

There are few things that make a great gaming victory more gratifying than being able to rub it in the face of your vanquished foes as they sit beside you on the sofa and weep. While many modern games have robbed us of this pleasure by taking their multiplayer components online, a few are still defiantly old fashioned enough to insist that you invite your mates over for some classic party play. Wrecked: Revenge Revisited is just such a game, and, with three friends at your side, there are few other titles out there thatíll reveal your ugliest competitive streak quite so vividly.

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited asset

Wrecked has quite the heritage; developed by Supersonic, itís the spiritual successor to Mashed, the PS2/Xbox cult racer that brought the top-down four player same-screen gameplay template of Micro Machines kicking and screaming into the modern era. The formula hasnít changed a great deal since then. In every race you must stay ahead at any cost, or fall behind and be eliminated. When only one racer is left standing, points are allocated and the race starts again on another stretch of track. Each race is a frantic burst of violence which might only last for seconds; take out your enemies with the wide arsenal of weapons on offer, knock them off the track into oblivion, or gain an insurmountable lead. Simply put, do whatever you must in order to survive. Add in airstrikes by players eliminated early and the result is utterly unpredictable. Classic competitive multiplayer has rarely been better.

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited asset

Wrecked isnít the most robust package. The standard release comes with six tracks, based around jungle, desert, and icebound themes. Some options are more inspired than others. Ice Bridge is guaranteed mayhem, a pair of ice-covered straights connected by tight hairpin turns which are soon transformed into graveyards of smoking wreckage. Tracks in general offer a mix of narrow straights, looping corners, and big jumps. These are spiced up by your ability to shunt sideways with a flick of the right stick or to gain a speed boost with a quick brake and acceleration combo, meaning that victory requires a fine balance between skill and luck. The camera sometimes throws a spanner in the works, particularly if a racer is lagging behind on a hard corner, spinning that individual into a position that effectively reverses the controls.

Weapons are a crucial component to your success in every race. There are party racer staples like mines and machine guns, but you can also get creative with disorienting electricity or a trailing ball-and-chain. Most of these attacks are hugely satisfying when they connect, though lock-on for some can be inconsistent and explosions are signified by a lacklustre screen flare which can take the pleasure out of landing the perfect shot. Airstrike weapons are a mixed bag too, with cannons and homing missiles providing pleasing grunt while the more inventive options, such as a UFO beam that swaps car positions, are simply too difficult to pull off in the heat of a race. Even so, itís a great mechanic for keeping all players involved, and provides the perfect means of leveling the playing field if one racer is doing a little too well.

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited asset

While six tracks might seem a little thrifty, a great deal of mileage can be had thanks to the customisation on offer. While car modifications are aesthetic only, handling can also be tinkered with to improve or reduce grip, to speed races up or to slow them down. Such changes are pronounced, and investing some time in these options can make a single track play in vastly different ways. Try Ice Bridge with slippery handling and see how long you can last, for instance. Weapons can also be added to or excluded from each race. These options allow you to experience familiar content in unique new ways, and are bound to inspire improvised mini-games and challenges amongst you and your friends.

While the multiplayer is arguably some of the most fun you can have with a few mates crowded around a console, without friends the appeal of Wrecked quickly wanes. With only two players the short bursts of gameplay turn into tiring marathons. Thereís no option to populate a race with AI opponents, so without sufficient company youíre unlikely to have much fun. This is largely due to single player gameplay that feels like an afterthought. Thereís a challenge mode only, with no traditional races to be found. Each track houses four challenges, ranging from standard time trials to stages that include tasks such as dropping mines and towing caravans. Without opponents to battle these challenges simply arenít any fun, and once again the camera hinders your chances of success. Itís fortunate that these challenges do not need to be completed to unlock tracks for multiplayer, as youíre unlikely to spend a great deal of time on them.

Wrecked: Revenge Revisited asset

Online play allows you to race when your friends arenít available, but itís a shame that the joys of Wreckedís multiplayer do not seem to quite translate for the online environment. Although thereís still fun competitive gameplay to be had, playing online simply isnít as enjoyable without your opponents seated around you, trading insults as you trade attacks on the track. It doesnít help that online options are limited, and setting up a game is clunky, requiring you to backtrack through several screens just to switch tracks or tweak gameplay. Races can suffer from lag, and getting into a game isnít always smooth. Thereís a feeling that more time should have been invested here rather than in creating the dreary single-player to ensure that Wreckedís excellent multiplayer can be enjoyed to the full by lone gamers.

In many ways, Wrecked feels like a nostalgic throwback to the golden age of multiplayer gaming. Few developers pull off same-screen party play games like Supersonic, and with a few friends on board this could well be a game you play together for many years to come. At the same time, it is also a reminder that multiplayer gaming is changing, and, with the limited online options available here, it seems that Wrecked might find itself left behind.


space_dust's avatar
Staff review by David Owen (January 12, 2013)

David Owen is a freelance writer who also contributes to VG247, Eurogamer, IGN, and others. He likes Gitaroo Man more than is healthy.

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