Codemasters is a specialist studio and a half, with its racing chops they sure can make a racing game, from their bevy of hardcore sims, to their flop that was the latest Micromachines game, they touched on every type of racing game. This makes any new title by them appealing, and nothing so much as Overwatch, err I mean Onrush.
The Overwatch comparison will be done to death, because while it’s not a hero shooter like Overwatch, the game feels like the racing spiritual brother of the game. With bright colours, fast and interesting combat, and dripping with energy, Onrush is certainly something special within the genre.
Onrush isn’t about racing, in fact none of its modes are concentrated about hitting the end of a track first. It would be better likened to Destruction Derby with the main purpose being to do damage to your opponents, regularly. The closest mode to a traditional race is Countdown which has a series of flags to drive through. Every time you do so, seconds are added to your timer, and the first team to hit 0 loses the round. Destruction is key in this mode, as a destroyed car won’t be hitting flags while they wait for a respawn.
Overdrive takes a different tact whereby you gain points from action on the course, such as boosting. First to hit a target wins the round. It’s the least interesting of the modes, but still awesome. Then there is Switch, which starts you in a motorbike, and as you get destroyed you move to more robust cars but lose points until the team still standing wins.
The mode that was by far in a way the most interesting and enjoyable, Lockdown.
Lockdown puts a circle in front of you that moves around the track. Your team needs to claim the circle by having more cars than your opponents in it for 5 consecutive seconds. It then disappears and respawns a set number of times. The circle is big enough that you can get a lot of cars in it, but with it moving, and cars destroying you, it can be hard to hold it for the full 5 seconds.
As you may have picked up from the modes, the game is frantic and energetic. You destroy other cars by hitting them at the right point hard enough, or if you push them against an object, or by landing on them post-jump. This aspect of the game can be extremely satisfying when you land it on someone else, but extremely frustrating when someone lands on you.
Unfortunately, where a car hits you, or you hit it, can be a touch unpredictable. On multiple occasions I slammed into a car expecting to get a win but must have been in the wrong position as the game recognised it as them hitting me. It sucks but with how high energy the game is, and how quickly you respawn, it’s easy to get over.
The vehicles themselves come in a wide variety, coming in 4 classes. The smallest are the motorbikes, which is the fastest but aren’t resilient. The next 3 classes are cars which get heavier and slower. Balancing which you go for depends on the mode, and your playstyle. Each class has two special ability types which build up throughout a match. They vary from making it so your hits are temporarily more powerful, to making your opponents struggle to see behind you for a few seconds.
The game also has loot boxes, but with no ability to spend real money, it’s about rewarding you with random cosmetic items. These vary from new paint jobs for your cars, to giving your drivers some new digs. Nothing affects gameplay, so you can win with no new items, as well as you can with them.
The game has awesome online play which I didn’t encounter any issues with, and a ranked mode which hasn’t been opened yet, but more surprisingly it has a lot of single player content. The single player unlocks something like the Trials Fusion games, whereby you get points for completing an event, and points for completing challenges in the event, enough points unlocks the next events. There is also a light story about how the Onrush Tournament came to be about, it’s a silly and over the top piss take of surfer / boy racer culture, but it fits the games vibe.
If you are wondering if you should play Onrush, the real question is if you want to enjoy life. It’s a high energy, fun car combat game, that certainly blew me away more than I could have expected. Though be warned, as races go on until there is a loser, they can last a while, and without a timer, you won’t know where that time went.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go play some more Destruction-Watch, I mean Over-Derby, I mean Onrush.
Released: May 2018
Platforms: PlayStation 4
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