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Game Profile
GENRE: Racing
PLAYERS:   1-4
September 06, 2000

L.A. Rush

L.A. Rush

San Francisco Rush 2049

 Written by Akash Suri  on December 05, 2000

Review: It's 49 years into the future! I want flying cars!

If there's one thing Dreamcast isn't lacking, it's games of the racing persuasion. From Sega GT to Re-Volt, from F355 to Wacky Races, from Metropolis Street Racer to the upcoming Toy Racer, Dreamcast has covered every sub-genre of racing titles. Including the arcade racer, and Midway has definitely dominated this aspect of racing on Dreamcast and other platforms. After all, they brought us, Crusin USA, Crusin World, Crusin Exotica, Hydro Thunder, 4x4 Thunder, the upcoming Arctic Thunder, and yes, the Rush series. Rush hasn't been all that great a game, the mediocre series has been ignored by many, but I think this installment of Rush will have many doing a double take, and go down as one of the greats in arcade racing.

I wouldn't exactly describe San Francisco Rush 2049 as a racing game, it's more of a "futuristic automobile experience." Racing is only part of the Rush equation, there's also a unique stunt mode and a 4 player battle mode, and what makes it so great is, that it seems each part of this game was given equal attention. Any one part of Rush could make a decent (albeit short) game all by itself. But I digress, on to other aspects of the game.

Graphics are of course an integral part of any game, and Rush is no slouch. In fact, in may be one of the best looking racing games on Dreamcast. From the reflection off the cars to the richly detailed environments, the Rush team has done one heck of a job. And the game has virtually no slowdown, even with 6 cars on screen and amazing lighting effects the frame rate hardly suffers. The sheer amount of detail put into each track is astounding, billboards line the streets, and trolley's go by in a blur, jet's whir by when you get to higher altitudes, and the Golden Gate bridge is almost always in view. The cars are also nicely modeled, and although you won't find any Honda's or BMW's, the futuristic concept cars in Rush will please you. Overall the graphics were given a lot of time and attention, and while they don't exactly push the Dreamcast to its limits, you won't be disappointed.

While Rush will please your eyes, what about your ears? You'll be happy to know that the sound in Rush is done very nicely. As in most Midway games, at the starting line you'll hear the announcer call "3! 2! 1! " And in this case "RUSH!" This gets you kinda excited for each race, it's not amazing, but it's the little things that count. As for other sound effects, each engine and car has a separate "purr" and it's amazing to hear crickets chirp as you through residential San Francisco at night. And although the sound effects are few and far between, when you do hear them, you'll love them. As for music, it's exactly what you'd expect, futuristic techno pop stuff, it plays quietly in the background, so it's almost drowned out by the sounds of 6 engines. It doesn't get annoying and makes the races exciting; the beat gets your adrenaline pumping, overall good stuff. Not that you'd wanna buy a soundtrack or anything, but still, good stuff.

Now for the meat of the Rush 2049: its gameplay. A game can have the prettiest graphics in the world, and music that puts Beethoven to shame, but if the gameplay sucks the game sucks. Luckily, Rush doesn't fit that description, there's just so much to do in Rush. It's very evident that this game is no straight port of the arcade version, it's not just racing, there's the battle mode, or the stunt mode, or even download your friends' time's from the internet and have a "ghost race".

The racing mode is straight up crazy and fun. Especially with four friends, the control is right on, and button mapping is fully customizable. The outcome of a race can be decided in a split second, you can be in the lead for the entire race, then take a wrong turn and barely come in third. While this can be frustrating as times, it's also part of the fun factor in the game. As mentioned above, the controls are excellent, but some of the turns they want you to make are impossible, so you go careening into a wall and back into 4th place, again frustrating but fun. While all racing games allow you to control your car on the ground, in Rush, you can control your car in the air also. Wings pop at the press of a button when in the air, and they allow you to alter your trajectory, these wing controls can be very touchy, but fun if you want to pull off some fancy tricks during a race. The racing factor of Rush is very solid and although luck proves more useful than skill sometimes, it's still a blast to play.

The stunt mode is another big part of Rush, basically you have a "Tony Hawk" like skate park, but for cars, and you run your car up and down these ramps to get major air. While in the air, use your wings to do 360 flips, barrel rolls, and other tricks and pray to land them. Four-player option is also available in stunt mode and is one of the best multi player modes on Dreamcast. When stunt mode is first selected, only one area is available, which can get pretty old pretty quick. But through collecting points, many more areas can be unlocked which make this mode extremely fun. Stunt mode may not be the deepest part of the game, but it's arguably the most fun. Also, gold and silver coins are scattered throughout the stunt areas, and when collected unlock all kinds of goodies. Just an extra incentive to play this mode on your own.

While it may seem that racing mode and stunt mode would be enough, the kind people at Midway have also thrown in a Battle mode. Battle mode is only available in multi-player play and is a "Twisted Metal" type car battle mode. The assortment of weapons and number of stages make this the best vehicular combat since Toy Commander. Weapons include basics such as missiles and gattling guns and more original weapons such as the Sonic Blaster, which sends giant sonic waves to destroy your enemies. Overall, a well thought out mode, with lots of replay value, best mode to play with 3 friends.

And then there are the "little" modes, such as ghost race, which allows you to download your times off the internet and try to beat them in a ghost race. There is also an obstacle mode, which is unlocked through accumulating points in stunt mode. Both are entertaining and are a good way to kill time.

Besides choosing what mode to play, there's a wealth of other options in Rush, such as being able to customize your car. And although the customization options aren't very deep, you can still choose what type of engine, frame, wings, handling, car color, etc. More customization options are unlocked as you play through the game. Race options are also aplenty, choose fog thickness, race length, difficulty, or even if you want to race the track backwards. The options will no doubt keep you busy.

Everything about Rush is nice, but if I had to choose the best thing about this game it would be the replay value. It's amazing, you unlock new engines, tracks, cars, battle arenas, rims, tires, etc. etc. etc. But, it seems almost as though Midway doesn't want you to know about all this stuff, you really have no idea of how you get these things. You may just finish a race and then a screen pops up saying that "You've Unlocked: All Terrain Tires." So, while the replay value is definitely there, you really have no idea that it's present. And there's no goal to aim for, you may want a "light alloy frame", but you have no friggin idea of how to get it. But then again, it's kind of fun to be surprised at the end of the race with a reward. Besides unlocking stuff, there's also the 5 modes mentioned above to keep you happy, and trust me, with 3 friends, this game won't get old for a very long time.

As for flaws in the game; well, nothing really outstanding, everything is done well, it's not amazing, but really good. One gripe is the small number of racing tracks, there are 6, and although you can race them backwards, a few more would have been appreciated. The only other problem I can think of is a lack of originality, it's not a revolutionary game and it doesn't redefine the genre, but it does represent racing games very well.

Bottom Line
Really good racing game and very fun, go out and buy it if you want a good time. If you buy one racing game this year, buy Test Drive: Le Mans. But if you buy two, buy San Francisco Rush 2049, its one helluva game!

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