Hands-On: Wrack

Some time ago, a game under development caught my eye. Strongly influenced by classics such as Wolfenstien 3D and Doom, Wrack brings the player back to a simpler time in FPS history. The demo build I received from the developers, Final Boss Entertainment, may only have contained three levels but it was enough to make me believe that the final product could become a favourite among FPS fans.

The regular lizardmen go down fast but their bullets can be a real pain on higher difficulties.

The premise of Wrack is simple. It’s the kind of return to roots that many an aging gamer dreams about. Let’s get rid of all that annoying lens flare and throw out all that weapon customisation. While we’re at it, who really cares about realistic carry limits anyway? Wrack goes right back to when carrying several weapons was a breeze for our virtual avatars and taking a beating wasn’t forgotten about by hiding in a corner for a while. Unlike the modern military shooters that are so popular today, Wrack delivers a more personal and faster paced gauntlet. In fact, the pace of the game took me some time to adjust to; movement is much faster than in many shooters today. I did adjust before long however and quickly moved on to competing against myself in the Time Attack and Score Attack modes. In the final version, there’ll also be a challenge mode and a mystery mode so secret that even I wasn’t privy to it.

A high combo after picking up the monster-spawning doomsphere.

Scoring in Wrack is pretty straightforward. You get points for each enemy you kill and score more based on the time it takes you to complete a level, how much treasure you find and how many of the total enemies you took care of. Shaking things up is the combo system, requiring the player to keep the fire button pressed and kill something with each consecutive shot for bonus points. The enemies I saw in the demo build were varied and took different approaches to deal with effectively. There were small spider-like robots that swiped at my heels and spacesuit wearing lizardmen that strolled about trying to end my life with their pistols. There were others too such as the flying sentries and the Crushers, giant robots that wanted to pin me down and crush me with their massive paws. Then there were the Bosses. There were two of them in the build I played. Each had their own unique arena and attack patterns, just like many an FPS boss of old. For example, the second boss popped up and down from three different platforms whac-a-mole style while firing missiles and utilising sentry guns to keep me distracted and do some real pain.

Don't be fooled by this guy's limited movement. He more than makes up for it with firepower.

Not everything harkens back to the genre’s baby-steps however. While the aesthetic is certainly reminiscent of older games in the genre, the quality of the 3D models and textures, accompanied by some nice cell shading and bright colours makes looking at the screen an enjoyable affair and a nice change from the blue-tinted pastels of a certain other FPS that has been taken up much of my time.. We can’t forget that this is a trip down memory lane though. Not only does Wrack have modern but aesthetically classical visuals but playing you through your hectic shootathon is none other than Bobby Prince; composer and sound designer behind Wolfenstien 3D, Doom and Duke Nukem II, among others. He was even there for Catacomb 3D. A fitting choice, I’m sure you’ll all agree, for a game with Wrack’s influences. It’s a choice I was very happy with as the pumping tunes proved a fitting soundtrack for the fast-paced gauntlet I was running.

The sword is a great way to build combos in tight spaces

Final Boss Entertainment also want to encourage the community to get involved and will be releasing WrackEd, the level editor for Wrack, on top of allowing for the creation of other modifications through the use of scripting. I can’t say I’ll be getting involved myself but the less lazy among you are sure to enjoy the freedom to mod that Wrack allows.

WrackEd, Wrack's map editor will be available right from the get-go for budding designers.

What I played of Wrack has me very excited to see what else it has in store. It’s just the kind of shooter I was craving. It doesn’t take itself too seriously – the hardest difficulty level is called Bullshit – but still allows me to push my FPS skills to the limit as I challenge my personal bests over and over again. Unfortunately, the game isn’t quite ready for the public just yet but preorders will be possible over at the official site some time in the not-too-distant future and will allow you to play the first three completed levels as development continues on the final product. You’ll also receive the level editor, WrackEd and access to the first full episode at a discounted price once it’s completed. It may still be under development but this is most certainly an FPS to keep an eye on.

By Declan Murphy

His dream is to one day have an entire room as a dedicated games library, wowing friends and scaring away potential wives.

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