Next Car Game is from the creators of FlatOut. That much is obvious the minute you boot it up. The original FlatOut games were often-overlooked odes to vehicular destruction on a scale not seen anywhere else.
Developer Bugbear has taken that concept and ran with it for Next Car Game. The second you load up the Early Access you’ll have one thing on your mind, and one thing only. Demolition derby…
The Next Car Game Early Access is still pretty bare bones, offering a selection of just two tracks and a destruction derby arena. You’ll race a bit, and you’ll smash into cars a hell of a lot. If smashing cars is your idea of fun, you’re in the right place.
The controls are extremely basic, limited to arrow keys for accelerating, braking and turning, as well as a handbrake for those I like to deem ‘professionals.’ The vehicles feel extremely heavy and pack a good dose of momentum, one wrong move and you’ll hurtling off the track before you know it. The chaos that ensues is enough to bring a tear to your eye. Cars flip, roll, hurtle, crunch, wallop, smash and crash with gleeful abandon. The 24 car races are how you secretly wish Formula 1 was, the first corner always providing scenes of carnage and devastation that puts Michael Bay to shame.
Cars splinter and tear, littering the track with toxic debris, ready to send your car careening off the track without a moment’s notice. Every crumple and bend of the cars feels weighty and satisfying. It’s a rare sight in today’s simulator littered world, where Lamborghini are too afraid for you to put a dent in one of their precious virtual cars. By the time you're cruising round for your second lap the track is looking like a battlefield. It's not only the cars that limited to the destruction either, as nearly all of the environments can be deconstructed to your hearts content. Barriers crumble beneath you, tires burst forth onto the track and fenceposts snap like toothpicks.
It’s not all perfect though, there’s still a lot of work to do. While the cosmetics are a joy to behold, sometimes its impact on gameplay is not. In my first demolition derby bout I lost pretty much the entire front half of my car, including one of the wheels. It had an impact on my driving, I think, but it was negligible in the grand scheme of things. I was too all intents and purposes a dead car driving.
It’s still a mighty fun experience though, and one made all the better by the game’s crazy AI. After being spoon-fed racing line AI in Forza and Gran Turismo, it’s refreshing to see AI willing to act like total nutcases. Every corner you’ll see a car or two take it wrong, smashing into the sideboards. And, like any adrenaline-fuelled player, if any opportunity comes to wipe you out they’ll gladly take it, before coming round the next lap for desserts.
As a game there’s no doubt that Next Car Game is currently extremely limited. There’s not much here to keep you hanging round for much more than a casual play session. What it does do though is show that the concept works, and once they manage to drape an actual game over this framework they should have one of the best and most hilarious demolition derby games in recent memory.