History of Car-Wrecking Games and How “Next Car Game” Will Change It

Next Car Game crashed car 1 photo
Photo: Bugbear Entertainment
Most of us are driving each day on public roads having to deal with high fuel prices, stupid drivers, car jams, careless pedestrians, potholes and taxes. Perfect ingredients to make you snap and wish you had a monster truck with rocket launchers to bash and pulverize everything in your path.
Unfortunately that can’t happen, but we found a way to release some steam in a virtual world - car-wrecking games, or demolition derby games as some prefer.

Car-wrecking video games have a lot of history and it all probably started with the notorious Carmageddon, where the effort leading to the first place was pretty much equal to slaying everything in your path, while using cardboard-like graphics.

Of course, there was also Twisted Metal but this was better known among the hipsters of the time. It was released in 1995 for both PC and PlayStation, featuring multiple vehicles and weapons to bash and destroy the other opponents.

Moreover, Twisted Metal was offering a storyline, not too complex, but it came with different endings depending on which character you chose at the beginning. On the other hand, Carmageddon was only offering people and cows to slaughter in order to add time to the clock. How the hell did that became more popular than a game with different endings? This says a lot about our violent species nature, but anyway...

Since Carmageddon was a huge success and basically everyone born in the ‘80s or early ‘90s spent hours in front of a tiny CRT screen endlessly smashing other cars and paint the road with digital blood, every other game house came with their version of driving recklessness - some better, some horrible.

The next notable title in the road-carnage series was FlatOut, which came by in 2004 on PC, PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Excellent graphics for the early 2000s, less sprite trees, more detailed meshing, a whole lot better textures and of course, a nice damage system which feasted your eyes with dents, scrapes and body chunks falling apart from time to time.

And that was done by extensive use of physics in collisions, a territory that wasn’t well explored until then. Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto 3 had been used physics for its vehicles damage system and control in 2001, but it was nothing compared with what FlatOut managed to achieve. Cars were ‘feeling’ plasticky and stuck to the ground, leaving you the impression of cheap Chinese toys.

In the opposite corner, in FlatOut, if you hit something really hard at high speed, the driver would be instantly thrown out the windshield, while a rag-doll system made sure his limbs reacted accordingly to the scenario. Based on this feature, FlatOut implemented a game mode in which you had to find the right angle and speed to hit a concrete barrier in order to launch the driver forward into a huge target and hit the bullseye.

Two years later, I was buying a gaming magazine and my eyes fell on some early screenshots of Crashday, on which I instantly developed a 'crush' on. It’s story was some stereotypically bull that allowed the carnage to happen. Boy, and what carnage was awaiting you...

Apart from giving you the possibility to customize your cars both visually and mechanically, the game was offering a fully functional integrated scenario editor to create your own demolition arenas. You could also insert fan-created add-on vehicles and personalized sound tracks, but what filled my heart with joy were the graphics and the realism it offered.

Crashday was probably the first demolition derby game which used advanced lightning systems and it also featured a day-night cycle if I remember correctly. The sunlight system in the game was so advanced it gave a much more real fell to the game - metal looked like metal, asphalt was grainy and had small bumps while shadows were spot on.

Combined with hi-poly surfaces and hi-res textures, the game looked like nothing else on the market. The damage system also managed to almost ace the way metals bend, with car bodies being able to make creases, ample dents, crumple and even fall off after a major impact. Mechanical parts were also taking damage, including the suspension, affecting the driving performance and ultimately rendering your car wrecked.

Considering the possibility of mounting Miniguns and/or rocket launchers on the sides of your car will also give you an idea why this game managed to create a small revolution in the car wrecking game segment. It combined classic smash-n-wreck gameplay with nice visuals and let you create your world.

More or less, we can also include Burnout Paradise into our car wrecking history class. Despite the first title in the Burnout series was released in 2001, the most notable version for our story here is the last one that came out in 2008 on all platforms.

Burnout Paradise was awesome because it was boasting a whole new level of mayhem - it had everything except guns: excellent graphics, very good physics system, slo-mo replays to see how horrible you crashed your car or pushed an opponent in a pole/truck, large amount of car models, awesome soundtrack, multiplayer (online or you could create a local party in which players took turns in the hotseat), classic races/demolition matches, stunt missions, time trials and most notable, an open world with day-night cycle.

Now, seven years later in which nothing exciting happened to the virtual car-wrecking scene, Bugbear Entertainment (those who brought us the FlatOut series) promises to revolutionize the industry again with their soon-to-be-released Next Car Game.

Why should you care about it? Well, if you love wrecking virtual or real cars in a demolition derby, this game will take you closer to reality more than anything else so far.

Bugbear says that Next Car Game will offer almost the same aroma given by FlatOut in the 2000s, but it has “been re-imagined for today’s technology and gaming standards”.

That special FlatOut feel will mostly be retained by the cars. All of them are old, cheap, banged up, patched together and rusty. There will be American, European and Asian classic cars available and the best part is that you will be able to take them apart and built them back up again in your garage, while customizing parts and fitting them with upgrades.

And if that isn’t enough to ‘blow’ you away, wait until you see their new in-house made ROMU graphic engine. The developer says it was specially developed for “heavy metal going way too fast and crashing into stuff.” All cars are ultra-high-poly and there will be no predefined damage models, meaning that every time you crash into something, it will generate a different deformation according to the circumstances. Sweet!

Considering all of the above, I can’t see how a car-demolition game can get any better than this. Check the game’s capabilities in the videos bellow and visit Bugbear Entertainment’s official game’s website to learn more. You can actually preorder the game and play a bit with an alpha/beta version until the fully one gets released.

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