Arcade racers, within the contemporary industry are pretty much as good as dead. As most publishers don’t see any sustainability within this particular sub-genre, and even those who are still green-lightning arcade racers, are only doing so just to milk a long standing and popular IPs. And sure, every now and then an indie racing games pops up on the digital store fronts, but even if it is of acceptable state and quality, it is still far cry from titles such as Burnout 3: Take Down or Split/Second: Velocity. 

Early within the current generation, many were hopeful that this time, racing games of the arcade kind will finally go through the renaissance which the genre deserves, as Sony’s Drive Club – once fixed – was a huge hit with many fans of the sub-genre. But before one could even ponder what’s next, the Japanese giant has decided to shut down Evolution, the studio behind the title. And while the day in question was a sad day indeed, it has ultimately led to creation of ONRUSH, a truly unique and special, combat-centric racer, which has been created by the ex-Evolution developers under the Codemasters banner.

Unlike the vast majority of combat or arcade based racing games, ONRUSH is not about how many opponents you have destroyed, or if you have crossed the finish line first, as unlike most it’s not about racing, but working as a team. In truth, ONRUSH is more akin to titles such as Team Fortress 2 and Overwatch, as its core gameplay experience is centred around team-based objectives, which vary from mode-to-mode. And those include high speed and high velocity Overdrive, where each team has to Rush and boost in order to score points; reflexes dependent Countdown, which requires both you and your team to hit time gates, which extend your time-bank; Lockdown, which has quite literally lockdown on-track areas with the help of your team; and last but certainly not least Switch, which as the name suggests is all about switching vehicles, upon your demise.

From the above-described modes descriptions, one could deduct that ONRUSH is a fairly straight forward, and in many ways shallow game. However, if one were to come to such conclusion, he/she would be so far from the truth, he/she couldn’t even see it anymore. As in reality, ONRUSH might just be the most complex racing game we have seen in years, and it’s all thanks to its team-based gameplay, which elevates the otherwise dull and interesting modes to brand new heights.

Aforementioned Switch is the best example of how complex and challenging ONRUSH can be, as on paper, it appears to be rather straightforward – you start on a bike, and every time you crash or get flattened by your opponent, you move up to the next category. The first team to have all of its players driving heavy vehicles loses and while Switch can be fairly chaotic at first, when all 12 players are on their bikes, it quickly moves up in both difficulty and complexity, as with time all in-game players have to select vehicles to not only survive, but to support their remaining teammates. When it comes down to the wire, you may find yourself in a situation where your entire team does everything it can to protect the last remaining driver by blinding the opponents with Enforcer, creating multi car barricades, or simply shielding him/her with Titan.

Whenever you think you have seen it all, when playing ONRUSH, it does a 180 and hits you round the head with a brand new, and previously unseen, and in many ways unfathomable levels of complexity, which you didn’t even think were possible and even the biggest sceptic will realise, within an hour of starting ONRUSH, that it is more than just another dumb, and shallow arcade racer. As every single feature of this particular game has been lovingly crafted in order to provide the players world over with a title which they won’t forget for years to come.

Just like OverwatchONRUSH is a 6v6 team based game, but just like Titanfall, it features destructible mobs in form of fodder vehicles, which provide you with the incredibly valuable boost. However, when the push comes to shove, fodder is nothing more than a distraction, as the meat of ONRUSH lies within its Player vs. Player combat, and while the title at hand is still immensely enjoyable when played against AI, it is at its best when played against and with other human controlled vehicles. As it is then, and only then, when ONRUSH removes its mask, and showcases to the world its truly brutal and unforgiving nature. But while doing so, it also gives the world an opportunity to experience its underlying flaws – first hand.

The best way to describe ONRUSH to those who know nothing about it is Overwatch with cars, and this goes beyond just gameplay elements and core mechanics, as ONRUSH just like Blizzard’s shooter, suffers from some rather jarring, and at times painful balance-related issues. Those come to the light of the day the most within the multiplayer component, as humans, unlike AI, can exploit games like no machine ever will. And while such issues will not be a big deal to an average Sunday gamer, then it has to be underlined that they can ultimately be a difference between life and death of a competitive title, which ONRUSH is clearly aspiring to be.

Besides the Outlaw’s rather inconsistent hit box on its aerial strike, it has to be said that all light and medium framed vehicles are in acceptable state as they don’t feature any overpowered, soul-crushing abilities, or pathetically under-powered and disappointing skills. However, the last two remaining vehicles, Titan and Enforcer, the heavyweights of the ONRUSH roster are far from being in a good, or even acceptable state. As in their current state, they do very little to entice the player into picking them, and despite of their imposing frames, they can both be as easily dispatched as the medium-farmed Interceptor or Dynamo. But the latter vehicles, unlike Titan and Enforcer, feature skill sets which are much more beneficial in the long run.

The biggest problem with the heavy-frame vehicles in their current form, is that they are nowhere near as imposing as they should be, and for the most part, they are the laughing stock of the ONRUSH’s roster, as they can be easily avoided, damaged, and as mentioned previously, destroyed. What makes the matter worse, is that their heavy move-set only further jeopardizes both heavyweights, as it disallows them from quickly dispatching opponents, and more often than not, Interceptor drivers will run circles around you, only to punish any aggression coming from your side.  When all is said and done, it has to be underlined that picking either Titan or Enforcer feels more like a harsh form of punishment, than anything else.

Balancing multiplayer oriented titles can be a difficult thing to accomplish, and as ONRUSH will begin to grow post release, new metas will develop, and likely people will find a way to utilize heavy vehicles in their current state, to their optimum potential, and who knows, maybe interceptor is the equivalent of Overwatch‘s Harambe Winston, and it may soon become the vehicle to use. While this is uncertain, then one thing can be stated for sure, and that ONRUSH is a superb racer, which in many ways, has revitalized the dying breed of arcade racers. But the thing which is the most impressive about this particular title is that technically, it is borderline perfect.

After spending well over dozen of hours with ONRUSH, I am more than confident in stating that it is the most fluid, and technically impressive racing game of this generation. Sure, Gran Turismo Sport does look nice, and The Crew did sport a vast and open-world, but the frantic play of lights and shadows, which is utilized within ONRUSH is simply second to none. In conjunction with the game’s superb and largely unmatched sense of speed, it creates a spectacle like no other. And the sight of frantic sparks, flames, smoke, and lightning’s impacting on a stampede of carefully crafted vehicles tunnelling down ocean-sides, canyons, and golf courses will remain with many for months, if not years to come.

The technical excellence of ONRUSH is not simply limited to the titles visual features, and offline performance, as online – within multiplayer and co-op – it is just as an excellent. Yes, prior to the release, it is impossible to say how the title will behave under heavy stress, but now a day prior to its official launch, a plethora of people has gotten their hands on the title, and more likely than not, the in-game servers are surely experiencing their fare share of abuse. I am confident in saying that, as in tens of matches which I’ve completed, I have never waited more than mere seconds to join a match, and have never experienced a desolate, or even partially empty lobby.

To conclude, I’d like to bring up the subject of ONRUSH‘s mass appeal, as often, I like to say that certain games are not for everybody, but in this instance, I will fortunately have to refrain from saying that, and that’s because ONRUSH is a title which can be played and enjoyed by quite literally everybody, As its incredibly low entry floor allows for causal players to simply hop in and have some fun with friends, either online or on the ‘ouch‘, but at the same time, ONRUSH also possesses an incredibly high skill ceiling, meaning that even after months of constant playtime, you will still find ways to improve, mainly due to the title’s incredible team-play mechanics, high level of dependence on one’s mechanical skill.

To summarise this already lengthy review, it has to be underlined that ONRUSH is simply an excellent title. Sure, the loot-box opening mechanic could use some touching up, as it would be nice to know the quality of the highest rated item upon unlocking. But this particular point refers to minor quality of life change, which affects one’s enjoyment of the title in a very insignificant manner. While I have honestly thought that Paul Rustchynsky and the ex-Evolution developers have given their all when crafting MotorStorm: Apocalypse, then I am more than happy to say that ONRUSH is a much superior title, which dwarfs all the other arcade racers of this generation, and should be seen by other developers and publishers as a shining example of what racing games should be like.



Author

Kamil

My name is Kamil, and I'm the 'Feature Man'. I write news, and reviews just like everybody else, however, feature articles are my true forte. And this is not because I'm another self-centered, pseudo-intellectual games journalist, but because there are many discussion worthy matters which go unnoticed in the flurry of other video-game related articles. If you want to read more of my #HotTakes and #Opinions, or if you simply want to fight me over the internet, you can follow me on Twitter @Kama_Kamilia.