28 Oct, 2005

LA Rush Review

PS2 Review | Rush away more like it.
Back in the day San Francisco Rush 2049 was to arcade racing what Burnout Revenge is to the genre now. The entire series is fast and brilliantly brainless fun. Recently Midway have been revitalising some of their most memorable franchises (Mortal Kombat is the first one that comes to mind) and doing a fairly good job. It has been five years since San Francisco Rush 2049 came to the Dreamcast and Midway have decided to take the Rush series to LA. So, is the game any good or have they simply taken the series too far?

For an arcade game to have such an elaborate storyline is rare, but LA Rush tries to incorporate a story. Players will take on the role of Trikz, a street racer from Los Angeles, who has just recently made it big. You upset a crook, Lidel who robs you of everything you own. As Trikz your objective is to win all the races that Lidel holds to win the cars back and earn money.

It may look like Need for Speed, but it definitely doesn't play like it

It may look like Need for Speed, but it definitely doesn't play like it
The whole game takes place in a free roaming city, and there are numerous race types that help to break up the racing a bit. Some of the race types include basic street races, retribution races, stunt races, endurance races and more. We really have to commend Midway for including so many race options and the reason for doing them all is incorporated fairly well into the storyline.

Features wise, the game is really solid, but unfortunately it is the gameplay where the game really begins to go wrong. The whole Rush series is renowned for it's quick arcade linear routes and solid gameplay. However, with this title it seems like Midway have tried to incorporate some of the best things about other arcade racers and use them in their game. A lot of the races are checkpoint races where you have to get to a certain point on the map, these race types feel very much like Midnight Club III.

Some of the environments in the game are fully destructible as well, but knowing which ones aren't and which ones are is just a simple guess. For example it is possible to run into a tree, a fire hydrant or even a large wall and destroy it, but sometimes you can be flying along at breakneck speed and you'll barely touch something that isn't destructible and your car will just stop it.

To add salt to the wound, every single time you crash into something at a fairly decent speed the game will slow down and show you the demolition of your car. The first time it happened we were genuinely impressed and thought the effect was good, then it kept happening. We began to question if maybe we were pressing the start button wrong and Midway had changed the "skip cut scene" button to something other than the convention. Then we realised that you simply cannot skip cut-scenes. Burnout: Revenge, which has some of the most incredible crash effects around, even has an option to turn crash cut-scenes off. It's also even more annoying because you can see your opponents fly past and all you can do is just sit and wait. If you press X the cut-scene will actually slowdown even more (just in case you haven't seen enough). We don't know why Midway would do this to us, but imagine if every time you got hit in Mortal Kombat the game slowed down, it wouldn't be very fun, and it definitely isn't here.

Looks good the first time, but extremely ridiculously annoying after this

Looks good the first time, but extremely ridiculously annoying after this
The AI is also extremely questionable as well, and it doesn't look like much effort has been put into fine-tuning how the AI react. The game features rubber band AI that makes it possible to fly through a perfect lap and still have enemies behind you. It's also possible to use this to your advantage by holding back and then utilising your nitro at the end of the race, but either way it isn't fun and depending on how you play the game it can make it extremely challenging, or just extremely annoying.

We also experienced some slowdown at certain points of the game. We could forgive this if it happened rarely, but it actually happened quite often. Every five minutes or so the game would pause for a second as if the Playstation 2 had to keep up with the data on the disk. There is nothing wrong with our Playstation 2, it is just the way the game is.

Graphically the game looks fairly decent, the environments are well rendered, but there is so much of LA modelled that the environments become repetitive after a while. However, Midway has done a good job in making the game look fairly attractive. The cars all look great (and there are a considerable amount of them) and the game has a bright look. Surprisingly the environments have a decent draw distance and there wasn't much pop up in the game at all. There is a trade off for the good quality graphics though and that is the loading. There is a lot of loading in the game and it quickly becomes a bore waiting for your next race to begin.

Screenshots really do make a game look better...

Screenshots really do make a game look better...
The sound is highly questionable as well, ever since Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas put a fairly decent emphasis on hip hop and bling bling every second game appears to be trying to do it, and it just isn't very enjoyable any more. The soundtrack is littered with music that tries to replicate the songs in San Andreas but ultimately fail.

The voice acting is fairly decent though with one real exception. LA Rush features a voice over guy, who seems to have escaped from previous NBA Jam titles to quickly get his voice in here. Most of the comments he makes are just irritating, and appear to serve no purpose at all. There are no laughs to be had from the commentator except for when you're laughing at how poor the inclusion of a commentator actually is.

The story mode itself could last a significant amount of time if you have the patience to stick with it. Completing the main career mode will take about twelve hours once you've got the AI of the game fairly well scoped out. If you're a fan of arcade racers then you're still not going to enjoy this title as much as previous arcade racers, because they do everything LA Rush does and far more.

LA Rush is a very average title. When you think of arcade racers you think of Midnight Club, Burnout and Need for Speed. All three of these titles have (or have had) a sequel this year, so LA Rush was disadvantaged from the beginning. However, this doesn't mean that the game couldn't have been gone on it's own merits, the Rush series has been around since before Burnout or Midnight Club, but unfortunately it has just been outdone in every way.

Midway have made some poor development decisions, such as including average AI, unrecognisable destructible environments and unescapable cut-scenes. Rather than coming off as an enjoyable game, the game is actually a huge frustration. Even fans of the previous Rush titles won't have a large amount of fun with this game. If you simply must play a Rush title this year, then Midway Arcade Treasures 3 comes with San Francisco Rush 2049, which may be a better purchase.
The Score
LA Rush is a disappointing title and a poor addition to the Rush franchise, the Rush series is better left in our memories now.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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1 Comment
8 years ago
good review. you must be right about the screenshots making the game look better. because looking at those screens i thought it would be a good game but then looking at the ratings it sounds crap
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