I'm a fan of the Rush series – kinda like admitting to being alcoholic, minus the hangovers. Rush games are some of the few racers out there one could call a "popcorn" game; fun to play every now and then, over the top in its frivolous nature, and most importantly – downright enjoyable. There's no need for complicated matters, storylines, customizations, and so on and so forth. So imagine my surprise when a copy of Midway's newest, L.A. Rush shows up in my mail.
Imagine that feeling of hope and joy, hurled against a wall at 120mph. That about sums up the L.A. Rush experience.
Take every element that makes the Rush series what it is and mercilessly rip it out of the heart and soul of the game. No more over the top jumps from buildings. No more insane, implausible antics. No, gamers in this day and age don't want that – they want street racing with a real vibe!
The latest Rush iteration presents a shady facsimile of a cross-bred Need for Speed Underground and Midnight Club. Join our steadfast hero Trick, a famed street racer with plenty of "whips", hotties, and cash to burn. Enter our villain, who swipes everything Trick valued assets which essentially made him who he was. One could try to say Midway's making a social commentary on the fleeting nature of a materialistic lifestyle that today's culture perpetuates…but that would be giving them too much credit.
Leave it up to Trick and his one last car – the car that started his walk to fame – to rebuild his small empire. This involves riding around L.A., looking for races, and tracking down Trick's stolen rides. That about sums up the L.A. Rush experience and saves you the utter pain of playing it.
As already stated, everything from previous Rush games are gone - no more arcadey racing and impossible feats. Instead we're treated to cruising through Los Angeles and surrounding areas while dealing with traffic and trying not to irritate the cops too much. Once you've found a race by wandering aimlessly or using the map and GPS, get ready for a rally-style marathon through sections of Compton, Hollywood, and my own city – Long Beach. Though it will be with the same amount of traffic and cop hassle as before, meaning a lot of crashing, heading into oncoming traffic, and finding new ways to ditch the police. While it sounds like a good idea on paper, the execution is sorely lacking.
Control is the biggest issue, as most cars feel exactly like one another. Even when taken to a West Coast Customs location to get your ride "pimped out" cars still steer like a brick. Clunky control coupled with uninspired race locales makes for a sad trek through Downtown. Though the city is accurately modeled the races are dull – a rally-esque sprint from checkpoint to checkpoint sounds like fun, until you find that no matter what race it is, you feel like you're doing the same thing over and over. Not to mention (once again) the total lack of what makes a Rush game... well, a rush; jumps and overabundant aerobatics at the blatant disregard to real physics. Sure, you can jump off truck ramps from time to time, but it feels cheap and fleeting compared to the true heart and soul of the series.
In the end, the full L.A. Rush experience is nothing more than a spattering of good ideas in concept with terrible execution. Which in the end, makes the entire game come off as an exercise in frustration, rather than what the Rush has been about in the past – fun. It would be wise to avoid this release at all costs, especially when there are plenty of street racers around these days that are all capable of offering a more enjoyable experience. And if you're eagerly looking for a popcorn racer, there's always the old-fashioned, classic Rush games.