Over the decades I’ve played tons of driving games, but will onrush lead the pack or struggle to keep the pace, let’s have a look at the new arcade driving game from Codemasters.
For years Codemasters have positioned themselves as one of the best developers when it comes to driving games, Toca, Colin McRae, Dirt, Grid and F1 are just a few of the franchises that we’ve come to love, ranging from near-real simulation to breathtaking arcade thrills, If Codemasters are behind it, its usually a pretty good game.
With titles like the original Burnout games, the old Need for Speed titles, Blur, Split Second and even PlayStation’s Motorstorm all capable of flying the arcade flag, it’s been a while since we had anything that’s groundbreaking while still providing true arcade thrills, far too many titles opt for realism, simulation or open-worlds and the arcade racing scene has felt quite sparse for far too long.
ONRUSH, isn’t going to change that, because it’s not a racing game but it is a fantastic driving game, in fact across the games dozens of events, you’ll often not even need to win the event, after all it’s the taking part that counts, oh, and taking down, you’ll need to wreck plenty of vehicles Burnout style if you want to be a Superstar.
The single-player portion is called ‘Superstar’ mode, you’ll follow the creation of the onrush from small extreme hobby to big-time passion of adrenaline junkies worldwide, starting off across a handful of courses and modes you’ll have various challenges such as performing tricks, gaining boost, survival and occasionally winning the event, it all adds up to a well made, well presented and interesting experience which introduces you to the game with a gentle learning curve which keeps raising the challenge.
Driving is incredibly fun, you’ll find two teams of six battling for supremacy, but the course is also filled with dozens of weak vehicles known as ‘fodder’ smashing through the fodder, taking big jumps, performing tricks, near missed and taking down your opponents will all fill your nitro (which is nearly always available) and your boost meter will which will push your skills and score to the limit.
In total there’s currently twelve large, very well-made and varied tracks with each having slight differences dependent on the season you play (Spring, Summer, etc) there’s also nine times allowing day and night racing with everything in between, it keeps each track feeling fresh and even after hours and hours I found familiar tracks feeling fresh and inviting.
There’s also four quite different modes on offer, ‘Overdrive’ rewards increased points the longer you’re boosting, keep hitting those giant jumps, avoiding takedowns and rack up the score to take the win, ‘Switch’ starts all competitors on a bike, then once they’re wrecked, you switch to the next vehicle group (buggy) and finally a car. Once you’ve wrecked all three, you’re out of contention, but you do get to take one of the trucks out to try to finish off any remaining players on the opposing team, ‘Countdown’ provides gate-based racing as you push to hit each gate to add a second to the diminishing clock, get more of your team through a gate for a bigger boost, while trying to block the other team from doing the same. The final mode ‘Lockdown’ is king-of-the-hill on wheels as the area speeds across the map, you need to have more of your team in the area than your opponents for five seconds to capture each point.
No matter which mode you head into, taking down your opponents is as crucial as the objective, and each takedown receives a Burnout style presentation, just as when you wreck your own vehicle. These sections are as high quality as you can hope for, but especially when wrecked, I would have liked a slightly longer sequence rather than then having to sit through a 5 second respawn counter.
Onrush is all about risk and reward, taking down your opponents is rewarding, but one mis-timed swipe and you’ll soon be eating dirt, likewise hitting the special boost button will throw your vehicle forward at speed which comes beside your chosen classes special ability, but with great speed comes great responsibility and you’ll easily wreck your ride if you don’t keep control.
In total you’ll find 10 classes, paired into 5 groups, the bikes are agile but vulnerable, buggy’s provide a little more resistance to bumps but don’t have the speed or durability of a car, while the tank-like trucks are great for taking down opponents but the least maneuverable of the bunch, with each class you’ll have a selection of abilities, ranging from increased boost from performing actions such as boosts or takedowns, to dropping blinding or speed-sapping blockades for anyone following too closely.
Each vehicle has a few dozen ‘shells’ (skins), and your chosen character has numerous outfits, celebrations and (bike only) tricks, you can further display your personality from tombstones which drop when you wreck as well as the crashtag which displays during takedown sequences, these open up as you beat set challenges and each have hard-to-earn animated versions which are a great incentive to track your progress.
There’s so much to say about onrush, the overall presentation barely made it, but there’s nothing to worry about here, this isn’t car with 3 wheels, it’s blazing along at full speed, with HDR at 4K resolution (Xbox One X) and it looks absolutely fantastic, I can’t pick fault at the graphics at all and likewise with the sound, it’s a consistently rewarding experience with a varied and well-selected soundtrack, well-balanced and powerful sounding vehicles with enough visual flair to make onrush stand out among the crowd, sure it’s not quite Forza quality for visuals, but it’s leading the arcade race by a clear mile.