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Wrack is a stylish first-person shooter from Final Boss Entertainment. We saw Wrack at PAX South 2015, and it took home our “best FPS of show” award! At the show we only got a little taste of the game, though. Shortly after the con, Wrack went on mega-sale and I couldn’t help but pick up a copy. In this article, I’ll give you all the gory details in my Wrack review!
Wrack is (obviously) a first person shooter. It follows in the lineage of the original Quake and Unreal, unlike many modern shooters that take their cues from Halo and Call of Duty. The basic ideas it inherits from classic FPS’es are things like:
- Health as a number, which can be replenished by health packs of various sizes
- Armor, which reduces health damage by 50%, and is tracked separately from health
- A bunch of weapons in your inventory at once, instead of two that you have to choose from a larger roster
- Your character is fast and can sprint infinitely
- More of an emphasis on trick jumps and careful maneuvering
- Secret rooms to discover
- Powerups that increase damage dealt or reduce damage taken
Wrack takes all of these concepts more or less wholesale from classic shooters. I don’t find that to be a bad thing, personally. I loved those old games, and getting a modern interpretation of them makes me a happy player.
Wrack has got a very distinctive art style. Old school shooters tended to be a bit heavy on the earth tones, and dimly lit corridors. Wrack is positively cheery by those standards. It’s very heavily influenced by comic books, and even the end of level scorecards are made to look like comic book covers.
Weapons are at the core of first person shooters. Wrack has a set of five weapons:
- Hyperblade – a somewhat slow charging melee weapon
- Pistol – your standard sidearm, decent against soft targets but not effective against robots or heavy armor
- Shotgun – it’s a shotgun. ‘Nuff said
- Pulsar – A pretty generic rapid-fire energy weapon, except that the shots tend to fall quickly, so it can be used to shoot over cover
- Bazooka – Your typical rocket launcher
Killing enemies in quick succession causes a combo meter to build. If you combo enough, you can unleash a powerful finishing move, which varies depending on what gun you’re using. It’s a feature that would normally be secondary fire in a game like Unreal, but this implementation requires a bit more player skill to pull off.
I was kind of bummed that there weren’t more weapons – there’s really no “ludicrously overpowered” gun like the BFG in Quake, for instance. There’s also a real lack of long-range hitscan weapons, like a railgun. Also, there’s not really any interesting alien weapons with weird characteristics (a la the Needler from Halo).
Ammo is often pretty limited, especially for the Pulsar. Once the bazooka appears, ammo is pretty common by comparison. I found myself switching up weapons pretty often to focus on the best weapon for a given scenario in order to consume ammo. I rarely found myself completely dry, however, as there are many ammo pickups scattered about.
Wrack ‘Em Up
The enemies you use these weapons on can be categorized into two groups.
The first I’ll call “lizard aliens” – these guys come in a wide variety of flavors. Some shoot single shots at you, others will shoot homing bolts or shots that split in three. The highest tier lizard aliens have a sort of long-range laser sniper that they charge and fire at you.
The second group are robots. There are three of these, a small spider robot, a small spider robot with explosives wired to it, and a large 10 foot tall walking robot that likes to slam the ground and cause massive damage.
Beyond the standard enemies, each major level caps off with a boss fight. The boss fights are interesting, and varied. They’re some of my favorite moments in the game, as each boss is huge, animated well, and has an interesting attack pattern.
Wrack doesn’t pull any punches, even on the “normal” difficulty I played on. I died a lot. Especially to the bosses – there were a few that took me a good ten tries to beat. Wrack has a lives and continues system, but it also allows you to quicksave whenever you want. These two things together confused me – as long as I made smart quicksaves, was there any reason to die and be sent back to the last checkpoint, or the start of the level?
Wracking My Brain
To summarize my criticisms of it – I want more Wrack. I want more weapons, more enemies, and more levels to play. I want more bosses to fight. Wrack left me wanting more, and I can’t say that’s a totally unwelcome feeling. There’s Steam Workshop support, so perhaps the community will step up and make more Wrack. Also, hopefully the dev(s) will consider releasing DLC or a sequel at some point.
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At the end of the day, I enjoyed Wrack. It’s got a lot of nostalgic game mechanics, but it’s wrapped up in a lot of modern conveniences and some shiny artwork. If you missed out on (or just plain miss) old-school shooters, Wrack is a solid choice.