Wrack Review: Based on a Doom Story

by David Sanchez November 10, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

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Before there were perks and skill trees in shooters, there was just straight-up, in-your-face action. Developer Final Boss Entertainment is very clearly a fan of the genre’s retro roots, opting to create an FPS that’s simple to grasp and filled with raucous arcade craziness. Wrack isn’t about leveling up, building your character, or obtaining abilities. Instead, it’s about charging into battle and shooting everything in sight with no remorse.

Specifically, Wrack is influenced heavily by the iconic Doom. Hell, the heavy guitar soundtrack boasts the work of Robert Prince, who worked on the legendary ’90s FPS. With such major retro inspiration, it’s easy to see that this game likely won’t appeal to modernists with a thirst for fancy features. Still, if you have an open mind or are just a huge fan of the sort of evocative experience that titles the likes of Serious Sam and Painkiller are all about, Wrack will probably be right up your alley.

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Though the game has an underlying story about an alien race bent on global domination, the plot immediately takes a backseat to all of the action. You play as Kain, a no-nonsense dude with a hunger for shooting bad guys. Despite the fact that the story sequences aren’t the focal point of this trigger-happy adventure, they at least feature some humor and a nice comic book art style.

Speaking of comic books, Wrack features cel-shaded visuals, bright colors, and hard outlines. The graphical design of the game is slightly reminiscent of Borderlands, though it’s overall more cartoon-like. It all looks quite nice, and the futuristic sci-fi environments look solid, even if you see a lot of the same types of cold, sterile areas and enemies. That said, there are some great boss designs in the game, and the fact that the developer went for a unique comic book look rather than a standard 3D FPS design was for the best.

Wrack isn’t just a funny game that looks good, though; there’s also a substantially fun FPS here. As previously mentioned, you won’t dig the simplicity of the action if you’re looking for something more profound from the genre. If, however, you love suiting up, locking, loading, and blasting away at anything that moves, you’re bound to find a handful of hours of unbridled enjoyment here. That’s because Wrack doesn’t mess around. It immediately thrusts you into tight quarters against hordes of armed and robotic enemies.

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You’ve got your typical weapons such as a pistol, shotgun, and pulse gun, but you’re also armed with a deadly sword. This rather large blade deals major damage and usually results in one-hit kills if you’re taking on lower-tier enemies. There’s also a fun combo system in place that grants you a special move if you rack up enough hits in a row. It’s just a shame that the special move can’t be stored for later — you have to use it before a meter drains, which makes it useless if you’ve already wiped out all enemies in any given area.

Like any proper tribute, the game is faithful to the FPS genre’s roots in its difficulty, too. Though there’s an abundance of health, armor, and ammo to discover, chances are you’ll expend most of it (or at the very least, the health and armor) by the time you get to the end of a level. Wrack is challenging, and it makes no attempt to hand-hold or go easy on you. If you play this game, expect a tough (albeit entertaining) time.

Bosses and mini-bosses are especially challenging. For these encounters, you’re usually trapped in a smaller area, which means you can’t backtrack to other rooms to get away from the enemies. It also means you need to make every shot count. There are some major robo-baddies that can bring the hurt with just a few strikes, and before you know it, you’ll be seeing the game over screen. You have a set number of lives (though you can earn extras), and once you run out, it’s back to the start of a level.

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With only nine levels, you could probably get through the campaign over the course of an evening. Even then, there are Score Attack and Time Attack modes, as well as as an editor. There’s no multiplayer, which is a shame given that said feature was a must in this title’s influences. Because the game is mod-friendly, you can create and share all manner of cool levels. Already you can find Doom and Wolfenstein recreations, original campaigns, and even a mod created specifically if you want to play the game but can’t run it properly on your hardware.

To be fair, Wrack will probably frustrate you, it’s not a very long game, and some may consider it simple to a fault. That said, if you dig old school shooters and want something that’s different from your standard triple-A FPS, you’ll definitely get that here. It’s not necessarily different from the older games in the genre, but because it goes back to the basics set forth in those games, it makes for a fun, fast-paced arcade shooter that’s a nice departure from the modern FPS.

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