Arcade racing games aren’t something we see a lot of these days; if the lead feature is a car then you’d probably expect something along the lines of more sim-oriented racers like Gran Turismo or the wildly popular Dirt/Rally games. Where games such as those focus on racing to a finish line, understanding the intricacies of driving setting up a good line, OnRush is something else entirely unto itself.
Codemasters will best be remembered best for providing the hit classic Motorstorm, though unfortunately if you are a fan of that series, this isn’t what you’re going to get at all. OnRush follows a very unique path while folding other, unexpected games into its design. As Rocket League has shown us, doing things with vehicles other than simply racing from a start to a finish can be a lot of fun, and OnRush takes a rather unconventional approach. Although fans of Motorstorm are likely to be disappointed if they were expecting a one-for-one recreation, OnRush is itself a great game in it’s on regard.
The past several years in the gaming industry have seen a sharp divide between what makes a game popular. Consider the strong narrative focus of games like The Last of Us or even the more recent Detroit: Become Human; these are games that have developed a following based on narrative immersion, pulling you in with a great story and solid gameplay. The other end of the spectrum seems to be competitive shooters in general; whether you take this to mean battle royale games like PUBG or Fortnite or team shooters like Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, competitive games are very popular in an age of online streaming.
OnRush features a lot of elements from a few different places, and like a witch’s brew it is this hodgepodge of features and gameplay elements that I consider to be its greatest strength. And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed many of the AAA games that have come out for the PlayStation 4 – Horizon: Zero Dawn and God of War, for instance – I can’t remember the last time that a game was as fun as OnRush is.
If you grew up playing video games in the late 90’s to early 2000’s, you’ll no doubt remember games like Jet Set Radio Future and SSX Tricky, two of my most personal favorites of all time. I was immediately reminded of both for different reasons when I invested a few hours into OnRush.
“My Kung Fu Is Powerful!”
The first thing that I fell in love with was the audio during matches; the bass-driven, thumping electronica was threaded with powerful heavy rock riffs and punctuated with television and movie sound bytes that seemed entirely appropriate. Taking another player down prompts a record scratch and a snarky one-liner, and personally I found myself grinning like an idiot as I eliminated other players – AI or human.
This game has all of the style of the previously mentioned SSX Tricky, from driver and car customization to “crashtags” and the personal tombstone you leave behind when you get wrecked. All vehicles are capable of doing flips and spins, and if you choose to use a motorbike you get to do ridiculous tricks that serve no purpose other than to show off to everyone else. One of my favorite moments from the review time spent on this game was landing on top of someone’s jeep while doing a Can-Can trick.
Great But Not Flawless
There are some areas that could use some attention; the steering and boosting mechanics felt a bit stiff to me, though I’m sure there are others that might disagree. Also, more traditional racing modes might benefit this game, though this has ended up being a minor complaint given the 7 or so modes that the game offers at launch, with “more on the way” according the the developer’s Twitter account.
The game does feature a number of modes that all revolve around lasting longer than your opponents; Countdown has you racing through gates to add time to your teams shared score. Switch is a reverse gun-game where you start on a bike and have three “switches” to different vehicles, graduating to a new one each time you wreck.
There is so much to love about this game that I almost feel biased in my enjoyment of it, as I would say there are very few games that are indeed perfection. OnRush is not without it’s faults, but in this case the good most certainly outweighs the bad.
A Love Letter
I really don’t know how this game was made, pitched or promoted in this day and age but honestly I’m very happy that it came to be. It has been far too long since a game made me smile from start to finish, but OnRush has accomplished just that. If you can get past the tutorial and learn some of the finer points of this game, I’m certain that you’ll agree.
I feel it is because of the climate that modern games have created that I was a bit put-off at first, because I had forgotten what a game like this felt like or was supposed to be. It isn’t intended to make you feel anything other than pure, unadulterated joy as you destroy your opponents and travel at breakneck speeds.