Sunday 24 June 2018



Who said racing games have to be If anything, Onrush is more fighting game than racing, with its focus on combat over laps. British developers Codemasters have a strong pedigree of driving games; throw in the creators of the Motostorm series and it's a recipe for chaotic action in a variety of vehicle types.

This arcade racer is anything but realistic. Its different game modes each have different aims that more closely resemble a FPS. For example, Overdrive tasks you with boosting to earn points; Countdown has you charging through gates like a high-speed dirt slalom; and in Lockdown you must control a moving area of the track, king-of-the-hill style. In essence though? Drive really fast and smash into everyone, before they smash into you.

It sounds simple, but there is method to the madness. Each race sees two teams battling it out for supremacy, with superior driving providing boost power (known as Rush) that allows for a special move with which to ram your opponents. And each vehicle class requires a different tactic. The speedy Outlaw motorcycle, for instance, gains Rush by performing tricks before draining power from enemy vehicles, while the heavier Charger earns Rush from driving near enemies and then bulldozing them from behind. The vehicles loosely fall into offensive and defensive types each with their pros and cons, so a good team requires a mix of classes. Think Overwatch with a steering wheel instead of a gun.

Initially, though, Onrush is a sensory overload. The beautiful vistas of tropical beaches and volcanic rainbow lakes rush by in a spray of sand, dirt, and water, techno and rock music pounding throughout as vehicles speed past and crash all around you in a blaze of bright blue and orange. It's daunting at first - and jumping online is not advised from the start - but the simple pleasure of driving really really fast and ramming other vehicles is a hell of a lot of fun. There's even a photo mode so you can show off to your friends, not to mention highlighting the detailed vehicles and particle effects - this is a stunning racer to look at.

Thankfully, there's a single-player adventure mode of sorts to help you find your groove. The races alternate between modes and force you to drive certain vehicle classes under specific conditions. It's perhaps a little too easy to win, but you earn extra points for performing certain actions in order to unlock further races. It's a perfectly poised learning curve that sets you up nicely for the challenge of racing online.

There aren't a huge number of game modes, options or tracks which is a touch disappointing. But there are plenty of ways to customise. Win races to earn XP and in-game currency that can be spent on vehicle skins, character outfits, celebration animations and more. Earn enough XP and you'll level up, not only proving your worth on the circuits but providing loot boxes with randomised rewards. Don't worry: there's no need for real-world money here and the rewards are all purely cosmetic. What is strange, though, is that the characters you choose to race as are given no back story or personality, yet there's no option to create your own to truly personalise the experience.

The racing genre these days is dominated by realistic simulators, but Onrush will scratch the itch for anyone simply wanting to hit accelerate for a thrill. The options are a little limited, but the game is completely focused on its central mechanics. Whether you want to dip in for a quick race or spend hours online perfecting your tactics, this is an utter rush from start to finish.