Next Car Game (Early Access) – PC
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment Ltd.
Publisher: Bugbear Entertainment Ltd.
Release Date: January 15, 2014 (Early Access)
Genre: Racing, Demolition Derby
ESRB Rating: N/A
Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Reviewed by Malefico
Deathmatch on four wheels…
Bugbear Entertainment Ltd., developers of the Flat Out Series, Sega Rally Revo, and Ridge Racer Unbounded, are the minds behind some of the most successful racing games in the industry and have come up with something a little different… With a different sort of title. Next Car Game is pure demolition racing destruction served up in a tasty package, and this is only the Beta version.
Next Car Game supports keyboard or game controller play, and the keyboard controls are well-laid out and easily learned. The arrow keys take care of movement, while others allow the player to Shift their viewpoint from straight ahead to a rear view (more useful than in most car games), (C)hange the camera view, pull the handbrake, etc.
The concept is simple- be the last car rolling out of a field of up to 24 contenders. Players can enter a demolition derby arena or partake in a number of races staged on gravel or tarmac surfaces. The grease-monkey gladiators attempt to win the day by a combination of aggression, strategy, and a little bit of luck.
Since this is an early access release, the options are limited. Initially, the player can choose from two types of cars- American and European, both RWD. The game does include a manual or automatic shifting mode and other driving assist features like traction control, anti-spin, and ABS. Many of the other options like upgrading and buying and selling cars are disabled at this point. In-game, a damage indicator registers hits to the front, sides, and rear of the car. As damage increases, these blips go from yellow to orange to red before your car is completely disabled. The rest of the HUD is equally simple. You have a combined speedo/tachometer that also indicates which gear you’ve selected.
As stated before, there are only three tracks available. The arena is quite fun, and the more conventional venues present added challenge because you’re not only trying to win, you’re competing against homicidal AI cars that would just as soon bash you as pass you.
Both types of cars have adequate power to get out of their own way if necessary, although this is more complicated in a cage with up to 23 other metal missiles hurtling around wreaking havoc.
The Bottom Line
I found the keyboard controls to be adequate for the arena, but a little touchy for racing. Next Car Gamers will definitely want to consider a game pad for better control if they intend to do most of their damage on the track. Without upgrades, even the little European coupes can get squirrely in the chicanes.
The cars themselves look like they’ve seen many laps on different tracks. Instead of the polished super cars prevalent in other games, the rides in Next Car Game look like those you’d see in lesser stock car or dirt track races. From the myriad sponsor mini-stickers to the dull gleam of the metal, from the dents to the rusty panels these no-nonsense cars look the part.
Bugbear promised a total overhaul of the physics in their racing engine, and in Next Car Game they’ve delivered.
In addition to the nice lighting and textures which are pretty much a given these days, Next Car Game features outstanding realism and incredible details. Whether you’re in the arena or on a track, car damage takes a toll on your vehicle. Especially in a race, even relatively minor hits can seriously affect performance. Take a shot to the front of your vehicle and you’ll notice your engine straining against the extra resistance of damaged parts and crumpled metal. Take a hard enough shot in the side and the frame will crumple, spider-webbing the glass. Get hit in the rear and your muffler may be twisted up in the air or drag on the ground while your back seat becomes your trunk.
The level of Bugbear’s commitment to carnage becomes most apparent in the arena. Flying shards of metal, smoke, and fire quickly fill the space as cars rack up damage against one another. About halfway through the match, it gets pretty difficult to distinguish threats from disabled vehicles as the center of the arena becomes a twisted mess of smoking, burning hunks of what used to be entrants.
If outright realism is Bugbear’s goal, though, they still have a bit of work to do. In one match, the entire front of my car was gone- I mean gone, no apparent front axle, engine bay, or driver’s compartment for that matter. I’m not complaining; it was fun to continue when in the real world I would’ve been a pulpy mass crumpled inside the lost half of my car.
The graphics in Next Car Game allow for a wide range of resolution, anisotropy, and AA adjustments so the game will run well on just about any system, even AMD APUs should do OK. Intel folks will need a discrete card. The POS managed low 40s in most cases, dropping to low 30s at 1440 X 900 with medium details, max anisotropy, and no AA when the action got really intense. As you can see in the screen shots, there was quite a bit of aliasing going on. I also noticed some clipping on review of the screen shots.
Music and sound effects are limited in the Beta release, although the basic noises of vehicular collision are there in profusion.
Replay value, as in all racing games, is high. Bugbear is still working out the details on multiplayer structure, but suffice it to say that the excitement of demolition derby will be exponentially increased when you get to send your friends tumbling through the air.
Even though this is an early access version, I found no obvious glitches in the game. Aside from the limited options, Next Car Game already looks like a decently polished product. Unlike some early access efforts that hobble around like the video-game version of Long John Silver in a marathon, this title is already almost ready already. All the basic elements work right; players can look forward to an outstanding finished game.
Aside from the twitchy controls and current lack of options, I can find little wrong with this title. There seems to be a bit of work to do on object collision, but it’s nothing you’ll notice as you’re doing cartwheels over other racers. Likewise, the possibility of mangled car pieces soldiering on may need to be addressed in the interest of accuracy. Hopefully, based on player feedback Bugbear may tweak the controls (there’s always the choice to go with a game pad), and additional game mechanics and content are in the pipe.
I found the arena matches to be much more entertaining than the track events, though I can see why more conventional content was needed to draw fans of more mainstream racing games.
Next Car Game is appealing due to its excellent physics, realistic damage and straight up dedication to the dark side of racing. It’s top shelf manned vehicular slaughter. It’s the Rachmaninoff’s Second of reckless endangerment. It’s a joyful celebration of road rage on steroids confined to its own gnarly virtual space.
Anyone who likes racing or wanton destruction, or is intrigued by the idea of a game that serves up both will want to grab this game. Quite a few already have. Bugbear announced that in the first week of beta release, this game brought in $1M in revenue.
I’ll revise this article when Next Car Game is officially released. For now, it has only minor faults. It seems that the company is continuing its tradition of cross-platform success since 2001; Bugbear has done it again.
Depending on your control options, Next Car Game would be at least 7.5, probably 8.5 with all the options in place and a controller.
Share This Post