Racing game fans all over the world should be thanking whatever deity they worship for Codemasters. When Sony axed the Motorstorm and DriveClub developers Evolution Studios, Codemasters swiped up the entire team and had them join their ranks. Giving them free range to do whatever they'd like with the genre, the ex-Evolution Studios crew went to work on making a racer that's more on the exciting tier than the realistic one. This goal resulted in one of the most eye-popping and all-around fun titles in the genre in quite some time: Onrush.
Onrush is not like your average racing game. Instead of being the first-place driver or the last car standing, working as a team is the most important aspect. Two teams of six go head-to-head in order to one-up the opposing side with their skills behind the wheel. Players will face off in four different modes, all of which have their own unique take on deciding who's the better team. In this game, there are no placeholders; just a winner and a loser!
These game modes aren't exactly run-of-the-mill either, as they will require some slick talents behind a control to stay on top of the game. Overdrive will have you gunning for the top scores via using your boost skills, whereas Countdown has drivers speeding through gates in order to keep their clocks from decreasing to zero. Lockdown takes the king of the hill route by having drivers nabbing high-speed zones for points, while Switch is a game of survival where the vehicles get stronger the more you crash them. All of this, of course, presented with a dash of break-neck speed adrenaline.
Vehicles in Onrush also have their perks, so depending on what you drive will either help or hinder your ability to gain the final victory. Motorcycles have the speed and can get boosts faster, but their light weight makes them an easier target. Dune buggies can use the RUSH technique to a greater advantage, but their build makes it a bit tougher to crash other vehicles. Bigger vehicles like the Dynamo and the Enforcer can use RUSH to take out their opponents from behind, but their heavier build can cause it to be slower than the smaller vehicles. Hence why strategy plays an important role in these sorts of races, requiring players to think quickly as they rev their engines.
Of course, even the strongest of strategies won't be able to predict the unpredictable, which is what Codemasters has crafted into its gameplay mechanics. During my play-through, I've bore witness to some incredible sights on these racing grounds. From tiny bikes taking out the heaviest of vehicles to literally last-second victories, this game manages to pull out one surprise after another during a competition. There were even times when I managed to pull off a successful takedown, and I still wondered how I manage to do so. Perhaps it's the way one let's your fingers do the thinking, but in any case, it makes for some exciting moments to brag about to your teammates and even your opponents. (There were also some times where I crashed automatically after respawning, which can be a bit irksome!)
Control-wise, Onrush takes more cues from classic arcade racing than Codemasters' usual realism-based mechanics. Accelerating and breaking are simple to figure out, but it's all in wanting to use your RUSH technique at the precise moment. Do it right, and you'll see your score rise and your opponents be knocked out; slip up, and you'll be greeted with a brick wall and the feeling of embarrassment. Even pulling off tricks on your bike as you're flying high are a breeze to handle, although it's a shame there aren't any cool moves you can show off in the regular vehicles (save for a barrel roll or two if you time it well enough).
Graphically, the game dazzles on many levels. The attention to detail on the vehicles and how they rip apart during some high-speed crashes are a sight to behold. This is a Codemasters game after all, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they'd still make a game with arcade-styled racing look as realistic as possible. Although the drivers themselves are a bit cartoonish, they do have that sort of SSX Tricky vibe to their personalities that make them enjoyable to watch during the post-race rundowns.
As of this writing, there have been a plethora of racers on its online mode. At any time of the day or night, I can easily find eleven other players itching to dive into the madness that Onrush delivers each round. There's been no sign of lag, nor have I been kicked out of a session due to technical issues. Heck, I've yet to really see anyone rage-quit and leave a race, as the emphasis on having a good time rather than always be a winner is very strong in this game.
Players who don't wish to dive right into its online mode can get their feet wet with the game's campaign mode. Here, you can learn all the tricks of the trade, as well as take on some well-designed AI opponents. At first, these computer-controlled drivers can be easy to take on, but as you progress through the chapters, they'll be seeking out your head in some incredibly intense challenges. Doing various deeds such as gaining the high scores or wiping out a certain number of players will help you earn credits and coin that you can use to unlock some goodies for each of your vehicle. Leveling up each time will also give you the chance to unlock other cool items via a lootbox system.
The addition of lootboxes in Onrush may raise a few eyebrows here, with the rewards being various car designs, taunts, tricks, and outfits for your character. All of it is cosmetic and lacking any harmful pay-to-win tactics, but it's still sad to see such an amazing game like this have it tacked on. Fortunately, you can earn just about everything within the game without spending real cash on stuff, and gaining the faux currency is pretty easy to do.
- Incredibly fun campaign/online modes
- Beautiful visuals
- Easy-to-handle controls
- Some unfair respawns
- Lootboxes might turn some off
Onrush is to online racing as Overwatch is to online shooters. Extremely fun and rewarding in every way, the former Evolution Studios team have managed to reinvent the racing genre in the most exciting of ways. Those looking for a new itch to scratch behind the wheel would be best to dive into the wild, colorful madness that Onrush delivers ever step of the way.
Promotional consideration provided by Thomas Schulenberg of Tinsley PR. Reviewed on the PS4.