Down and Dirty! Wide Open (Steam) Review
Wide Open is an entertaining example of what reviewers call 'Simple but Effective' since it takes components from other games that worked and runs them through this tried-and-true formula once again.
Parts of these elements are beginning to wear out their welcome, but the key ingredients for a good racer are still pretty effective, which includes: fast cars, high jumps, tight controls, multiple tracks, and gameplay appeal.
Built around classic top-down racers of yesteryear, Wide Open presents itself as a tribute to classics like Rock 'n Roll Racing and RC Pro-AM and addresses its likeness to them without apology.
Wide Open was developed by Talpidae Game Studios and shows off their mastery of the terrain, tracks, and a host of different cars. The game's premise is the notion that just one camera perspective is boring unless you are zooming in at the cars or they are crashing into each other. Hence, the addition of multiple free camera modes consists of long shots of cars dashing precariously around the track and closeups of drivers looking as if they are experiencing intense vertigo.
Wide Open racing is about positioning, taking the best racing lines while slowly acclimating yourself to the physics engine. The deformable terrain, which quickly turns smooth surfaces into deep craters and mounds of stacked dirt, add another layer of uniqueness to the game as you have to carefully maneuver around or through them to maintain your tires' grips.
If you get caught in a deep crevice, for example, you'll be spinning your tires while losing valuable time. The terraforming turns into something pretty stunning and is one of the game's most impressive feats of animation so far.
Open Track World
With over 30 tracks to choose from you can be sure that each race will be unique and differ from lap to lap. Most of the racing is loud and fast enough to be exciting especially when you find yourself jockeying for position ahead of a wide turn or steep jump. Those wanting more twists and turns will be well catered for as the tracks are well designed and offer a variety of surfaces and troublesome spots to contend with.
As the developers for Wide Open see it, the principal strategies in this style of racing consists of trying to find the right angles to approach jumps and turns as well as maximizing the most optimal racing lines. But be warned though, keeping your vehicle under control while sliding around can be as much difficult as is exhilarating.
Crashing, which I seem to be very good at, happens a lot and you'll have to be accustomed to using your brakes quite often. If that doesn't work, sideswiping your opponents and forcing them into a barrier is just as effective. In a game like this, to be in control, you sometimes have to be out of control.
Open for Business
Visually, the game looks fantastic with bright, vibrant colors and attention to detail that makes it one of the best looking racers to date. The subtle effects when dust is kicked up from your tires to the realistic handling make it as much fun to watch as to play.
The only things missing that I personally would like to see is more activity around the racing areas like people running around or damaged vehicles piled on to the side of the tracks. Commentary and damage effects would also add ambience to the game and make it more immersive. Wide Open is currently in Early Access, so I'm hoping they get more features in before it goes final.
As for the retro part, Wide Open ranks right up there with other games reimagined from past memories. If we had a time machine and sent this game back to the 1990s, the terrain deformation alone would have, literally, changed the entire gaming landscape.
Nowadays it’s actually considered a risk to bring out a retro-inspired game despite being, by all accounts, about as mainstream racing as racing gets. Wide Opens delivers a real treat with its meat and potatoes gameplay, precise controls, and immersive soundtracks. I'm hoping the game can muster enough of an audience to inspire a sequel. It is also deserving of a few more accolades and deserves to be seen and played by more people.
Healthcare Professional, Gamer, and Writer all rolled up in one. He once opened up an old Atari 2600 to see if it had a heart ... and it did. Hence, the lifelong love affair with gaming.