Review: ?Rush Week? at your average frat is often called ?Hell Week?. Yup, playing L.A. Rush has definitely been hell on wheels?
Back in the ancient long ago days of 1996 there existed a game known as San Francisco Rush. Building off the popularity of Cruis'n USA and others like it, San Francisco Rush perfected big, colorful racing in the arcades and at home. Flash forward to the present. Midway goes down the coast and announces L.A. Rush, the first Rush game in several years. We Rush Racing fans should be happy shouldn't we? Not exactly?
L.A. Rush transforms the Rush series into yet another Need For Speed Underground clone by focusing on L.A.'s illegal street racing scene. Gone are all the big jumps. Gone are all the loose, wild rides through hilly terrain. And gone is the non-stop fun that I remember.
In its place is an all-rap soundtrack and some idiotic story about a rich street racer named T and a money man named Lidell (voiced by Bill Bellamy). Lidell has plans to host a series of street races for some big money and T and his fleet of rides are ready to dominate again. But on the eve of the first race, Lidell steals all of T's cars and leaves him with one beat up wreck. Rather than use his ridiculous bank account to just buy any number of new cars, he uses that wreck to help steal back his fleet.
Right away this whole scenario leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I want a choice of cars when I fire up a new game, not just one wreck. On top of that, I'm tired of illegal street racing. I'm tired of an all-rap soundtrack (and even if I weren't, the game recycles the same three songs over and over again). I don't want to be a baller. I don't want to be a shotcaller. I don't want to shake my thang with my mind on my money and my money on my mind. I just want to race. And L.A. Rush doesn't make that easy.
After being thrust into the story of T and his missing cars players have to drive to marked spots on the map to take part in races through the streets of L.A. Races through the very flat
streets of L.A., but we'll get to that in a minute. Each race (except for the very first) requires a steep entrance fee. Placing in third place or better nets you some cash, but if you land in fourth your entrance fee is revoked. If you have enough money you can try again, but (and this is more likely) if you don't it's back to the free first race to build up your bank account (again bearing in mind that the main character is richer than God). I can't tell you how often I've raced the first race. I can almost do it blindfolded now.
This wouldn't be so bad if the racing was even moderately fun. Instead, it's very tedious. There is a lot of slowdown and everything feels like it's moving in slow motion. Several times the game actually froze in the middle of a race and flashed ?Please Wait...? onto the screen. That is unacceptable.
Freezeframes and long load times aren't the only things that will interrupt your racing. Like the real L.A., the streets of this digitized version of the City of Angels are clogged with traffic. Bumper to bumper on the roads like sardines, the traffic of L.A. will create an obstacle for you to crash into often throughout the game. Midway even takes it a step further by "rewarding" you when you crash into something with the Crash Cam. After hitting another car or a building the game will slow down into a five to ten second cut scene showing the crash from several angles in all its smoky, spark filled glory. The first Crash Cam is unexpected and actually pretty fun, but every time after that is torture. And they can't be skipped. I can't even count how many five to ten second Crash Cams I've had to endure. Torture indeed.
All of this traffic would make sense if it operated differently at different times of the day, but it doesn't. The streets are just as filled at midnight as they are at five o'clock rush hour. So then you have to ask why anyone would do their racing at night when obstacles become harder to see and the traffic is still choking the streets. And on top of all of this, some cars will be parked
in the middle of the road in the middle of L.A. So much for the ?realistic? traffic.
The final nail in the traffic coffin is the constant police presence of L.A. Rush. The game features a GTA-like (read: ripped off) Wanted Meter that very quickly goes from zero to five stars. But the police presence doesn't really do anything. You just occasionally share the road with cars that have lights and sirens. If you crash into anything or duck down a side street, the cops go away. And if they catch you, it's a small fine. This wouldn't be so bad if every cop in the state didn't swarm you at certain scripted times in many races. They literally drop from the sky.
Occasionally, L.A. Rush will drop more than racing on you with Acquire runs. In an Acquire run you have to steal back one of your cars and get it back to the garage before a fleet of SUVs destroys it. Then you have to liquidate your bank account to repair all the damage the SUVs caused. There are some nice cars to be unlocked in L.A. Rush, but that's not fair.
I guess I have to admit that I had a little fun with L.A. Rush when everything was working exactly the way it was supposed to. When the screen started to blur at the edges because I was moving so fast, I cracked a smile. That was cool. Then I crashed into an 18-wheeler. Oh, I also smiled when I found the viaduct from Terminator 2.
But where are the jumps? The Rush series is known for its big air and all we have in L.A. Rush is a few small leaps off the back of a truck ramp. Little air, sure. Medium air, maybe. But there was definitely no big air here.