If you’re going to redefine the racer then that is all good with me. But seriously Codies… removing the finish line as we know it? That seems like the craziest idea going, however, in ONRUSH having no finish line works. And if I’m really honest, it works very, very well.
Those gamers of a certain age will know all about the racing pedigree of Codemasters, and whilst it has to be said that recent years have seen them going through a bit of a hard time, with their games failing to ever really wow the crowd, attempting a proper comeback by trying to redefine the racer has most definitely worked out well.
ONRUSH is about as far away from your traditional racer as you could expect, but should you like anything with four wheels, a bit of competition or just want to team up with some mates in order to lay the smackdown on an opposition team, it does the job tremendously well.
An all-action, gravity defying arcade racer, ONRUSH will throw you into events that are spread out across a number of different ‘race’ styles, with a diverse range of race craft. And whether you wish to race and flip bikes, go all out with spot-on handling sports cars, or beast the competition for all they are worth with brute force, you are in luck. See, ONRUSH brings the opportunity to test anything from two wheels or four, letting you head on in to each race with the vehicle of your choosing, before letting you just get on with it. The ‘it’ being jumping, flipping, smashing and boosting. Yes, there will be times when the very in-depth, hugely exciting and massively enticing career mode will restrict you to specific vehicle types, but for the most part the freedom of choice is wide open.
The vehicle classes available to you are split into four, with a couple of different car/bike combinations available in each. The Blade and Outlaw are nimble bikes that can manoeuver and flip their way out of the tightest situations with ease, whilst Vortex and Charger deliver beach buggy style racing mechanics. From there though we move up a notch in terms of raw power and whether you decide to race in the Interceptor, with its cousin the Dynamo, or in the hardcore, built-to-withstand-anything Titan or Enforcer, you’ll most definitely feel at home. And thanks to a brilliant video sequence that has been included for each vehicle, you’ll never be worried about choosing the wrong one for the event type ahead.
Each of these vehicles come with three special abilities too. That’s because the entirety of ONRUSH is built around a boost and RUSH system that sees the former build the latter, and there being no need for a traditional finish line, with each race instead being completed once a certain objective or challenge has been hit. This may mean earning and using boost in order to reach a set score before your opponents in Overdrive, it may mean driving through a number of gates in order to keep your time up in Countdown, it may mean playing the most destructive game of cat and mouse ever as you try to save your lives through the Switch races, or it may even see you chasing and trying to control an ever moving zone in Lockdown. But whichever it is, the variety of circuit types, and the difference in vehicle RUSH abilities ensure that the gameplay never gets stale. I mean, being able to plow through opponents with Charger, drain boost from others with Outlaw or drop a ton of blockades with Titan’s initial special never grows old and sees each and every event play out differently from the next.
With main missions delivering progression opportunities, and smaller side objectives allowing you to gather up the necessary points to unlock further stages, the various stage types ensure that the draw of ONRUSH is supremely high. And that’s without even mentioning that one of the biggest draws of the entire game is in utilising your own tactical nous whilst taking down opposition racers.
See, for as much as the Boost and RUSH abilities are great, without taking down opponents (or the flimsy Fodder who refuse to fight back), you’ll never find much boost, and will struggle to raise that RUSH meter. Controlling the race field is a cinch though, especially if you’re in the bigger beasts as these are more likely to wipe out an opposition team in an instant over the times you decide to race in the lighter craft. Simple sideswipes are par for the course, t-boning is hugely enjoyable and coming out of a huge jump and landing yourself smack on top of an opponent brings a huge amount of pleasure. And you’ll need to embrace all of these tricks of the trade in order to keep that boost rolling.
There is so much going down on screen at any one time, you may well think that ONRUSH would perhaps stutter its way to glory, but you’d be far from the truth as this is a super slick, super intense, highly considered affair that flows along as smoothly as a hot knife through butter. In fact, there is little letup in terms of either the visuals or the banging soundtracks that accompany your racing at any point.
That racing is tight at all times too, and no matter how rubbish you may be, and how many times you find yourself being wiped out by the environments or the opposition – and you will because that is what ONRUSH is all about – you’ll never find yourself too far away from the action due to a brilliant rubber banding and warping system that constantly keeps you in play. In fact, things are so intense in ONRUSH, that you will occasionally be begging to be taken down just so you can spend 10 seconds or so watching the WreckCam and choosing the best vehicle for your respawn – if only to give your eyes a rest from the stupidly fast action.
But this isn’t just confined to the solo racer either and with a Quickplay option letting you get straight into the heat of the online multiplayer action, the promise of Ranked games coming soon, or a totally customisable custom game letting you play either alone or in co-op on the track and game mode of your choice, ONRUSH rarely lets you down. If I’m being super picky, the online modes seem to come across as just a tad slower in pace than the offline counterparts – but it’s hardly noticeable and is nothing to warrant more than a passing mention.
And much like the opening of loot crates and customising your heroes are hugely important in a number of the current gaming leaders, ONRUSH doesn’t let the side down there either. In fact, it is the draw of customizing your racer, their dance, their gear and your car’s look that keeps you wanting to play ONRUSH, for each and every race sees something new for you to marvel at. With zero cash-fed microtransactions to worry about, and only in-game cash available to spend for those who prefer a quicker customisation hit, Codemasters have to be applauded in the well thought out way they have gone about the progression systems.
Sitting here right now, there is very little to not like about ONRUSH. Yes, many a gamer found in the racing communities will say it isn’t actually ‘racing’, and they’d be right, but only in the same way as a few circuits of a destruction derby race is more to do with how much damage you can inflict on others rather than crossing that finish line first. However, the variety of event types, the brilliance of each vehicle and their specials, and the draw of trying to unlock multiple gear options for both character and vehicle will see you wanting to play it long after you thought you were done. Especially should the development team have the nous and energy to continue seeing it evolve with more vehicles, tracks and possibly even game types further down the line.
In fact, with just that slight future worry put to one side, the only thing I haven’t particularly been enamoured with is the rubbish ‘optimise visuals’ setting which slows the whole thing down, seemingly in favour of a slight visual upgrade. But then, I couldn’t care less for the difference between 1080 and 4K and am more than happy with the visual clarity found with the ‘optimise performance’ default setting.
There may constantly be talk about redefining the racer for a new generation of gamer, but that chatter can now stop as Codemasters have done just that with brilliant effect in ONRUSH. And all by just removing that finish line.