Supersonic Software (an offshoot of Codemasters) has made a career of nimble, top-down racers, and Wrecked: Revenge Revisited falls neatly into that same category. If you played either Mashed or Mashed: Fully Loaded (also known as Drive to Survive) between 2004 and 2006, you’ve essentially already played this title.
You may not have played it at this price, however. Wrecked (and its six tracks) will set you back $15 USD, and has a two-track add-on that’ll cost you another $5. In contrast, Mashed: Fully Loaded had fifteen tracks (some of which are copy-pasted back into Wrecked) and hovered around the $10 mark. As far as this game is concerned, inflation isn’t just a reference to tire pressure.
The base single player mode offers four types of challenge (speed, skill, weapons and elite) across those six tracks, with qualification ‘trophies’ and experience points awarded for beating the times of the rival bronze, silver or gold cars in each event. It’s also possible to download the times of fellow Xbox Live users and race against their ‘ghost’ on the various tracks. Experience points unlock aesthetic bonuses, like different paint jobs, wheel rims and liveries.
Some of these challenges are quite inventive, testing your ability to (for example) set a decent time on a track while pulling caravan, or make it around a course with a collision-sensitive bomb strapped to the car. Unfortunately the ideas run out fairly quickly, with challenges simply being repeated on different tracks.
The matchbox car handling (near-weightless with rapid, sensitive turning) is ill-suited to these speed and skill based tests, where hitting a consistent racing line is important, and this leads to more frustration than fun. Annoying as the handling is, it pales against the irritation of a ‘cinematic’ camera that seems hell bent on fucking you up. This dynamic viewpoint has a life of its own, forcing you to constantly adjust an already finicky steering system to account for sudden changes in perspective and distance. It’s a camera which will literally spin around to the side, obscuring an upcoming hairpin bend and allowing you to tumble off a cliff.
In multiplayer, the skittish handling and screw-you camera can contribute to the chaotic feel of throw-away competitive matches, but in single player this design is just anti-player spite for the sake of increased difficulty. As is the bizarre decision to map the ‘turbo’ and ‘super break’ combo moves to the 360 controller triggers. For a brief speed boost (sometimes vital to complete the challenge), you need to tap the left trigger once and double tap the right. This is clumsy and awkward to execute, as well as being far too similar to the sudden break ability (double-tap left and single tap right).
At least one of the challenges seems to be bugged, with the bronze and silver ‘ghost’ cars (which you’re supposed to be able to get trophies by keeping pace with) being well behind the time-extension checkpoints when the timer runs out. There is no possible way they got the results claimed by the leaderboard.
Speaking of leaderboards, it’s amusing to see that a strange exploit that allows the Wrecked cars to drive faster backwards means almost every top-placing run (at the time of writing) is someone cruising around the course in reverse.
Somewhat less amusing is the godawful voice acting and automated dialogue that accompanies certain challenges (like the aforementioned caravan one) and the multiplayer-focused ‘taunt’ button. There’s no separate audio slider for ‘voice’, so you either have to live without any sound effects at all or just put up with it.
Overall, single player feels like a superfluous inclusion, necessary to pad out the game in an attempt to justify the $15 price tag. The handling, camera and courses (designed with multiplayer in mind) aren’t just an awkward fit for solo racing; they’re a disaster.
In light of that, it’s no surprise that multiplayer is by far the superior mode of play. It’s still not great, but it leaves single player sputtering in a ditch.
For those who never played Mashed, multiplayer forces drivers to avoid the ever-present line-o-death which claims anyone who starts to lag behind. The race continues until only one player (of the maximum of four) remains, with that player being awarded a point (or two, depending on the settings). Players eliminated early lose points, and the aim is to accumulate a total in the region of ten (again, this is customisable) by out-racing, out-gunning or out-shunting your opponents.
This mode still suffers from camera problems (you’ll love it when you’re in the lead but the camera decides you should see literally none of the road ahead of you) and gravity-averse handling, but these quirks now become egalitarian. Somehow, when you’re battling human players for control on narrow tracks with even narrower margins of error, twitchy controls and weird turbo combos feel less frustrating and a bit more entertaining. It’s basic, chaotic and over in a matter of minutes.
Sometimes the conclusion is even quicker than that, because if one player drops (even if they’re not the host) it seems to kill the entire match. This happens pretty regularly, with connections dropping in every other attempted game. I’ve also seen online cars doing some thoroughly odd things, from glitching out while firing one of the weapon pick-ups to spawning inside the track. For online play, this is far from ideal.
With those online issues in mind, the optimal scenario is offline multiplayer with three friends; and if you can gather up enough interested souls this is definitely the best way to play. Not only can you view the anguish on your opponent’s faces as they handbrake turn off the edge of the track while in the lead, but everyone is within easy reach for the purposes of distraction or a well-deserved poke in the ribs.
That’s not nearly enough to save Wrecked as a total package, though. It compares poorly to the previously released Mashed: Fully Reloaded, with fewer tracks, a shameless day-one DLC release and a near-pointless single player mode to bulk out the price. If you’re desperate for a re-release of Mashed for your Xbox 360 (or PS3, as it’s also available on PlayStation Network) and can put up with connection issues (or have a regular supply of friends on hand for offline play), it may just about be worth your while. Otherwise, drive on by.