ONRUSH review (PS4)

Having evolved into a racing game powerhouse over the past decade, Codemasters has just released ONRUSH. Their latest racer was developed by many of the same people who also worked on the Motorstorm series for Evolution Studios, and the result is something very different from GRiD of Dirt – or really any other racer out there. It’s out now for PS4 and Xbox One, and we checked it out on a Playstation 4 Pro.

On the surface, you’d think that ONRUSH is quite a bit like Motorstorm, mixed with a little bit of Trackmania when you consider the camera distance and position to the cars. The first is no surprise considering the developer’s background, and the second is totally understandable once you start understanding the nature of ONRUSH and how important it is that you have a somewhat clear overview of your surroundings – including all the carnage that goes on just behind you.

You see, ONRUSH is no traditional racer, and carnage, takedowns and boosts are the name of the game. There’s a bit of the PS2-era Burnout games here as well, when you look at it that way – yet ONRUSH is definitely something more unique than a copy of what came before. It’s an off-road racer and definitely more arcade-like than other Codemasters titles (perhaps with the exception of Micro Machines and Toybox Turbos), but perhaps calling it a racer is going about it the wrong way. Vehicular-fueled adrenaline rush, perhaps?

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In ONRUSH, scoring points is more important than winning races. In fact, winning races hardly even matters – at least in a traditional sense. Points can be scored by hitting objectives, as well as by serial boosting or taking out racers on the opposing team. That’s right… ONRUSH is team-based, although you can still play it as a single player endeavor. A confrontation with another team is divided into multiple rounds, with a “best out of three” mechanic usually sorting out the winner.

As with many team-based games, ONRUSH features different classes/car types that can each fulfill a specific role within the team. Getting taken down mid-race allows you to switch to another class as well, but the team outcome always matters more than your own solo effort. Rewards are spread across team members and it pays to cooperate. This can be done by double-teaming an opponent by cornering him into a narrow spot before taking him out with a dose of ONRUSH boost, for instance. Activated with a full boost gauge, this is a rocket speed kind of power-up that can do serious damage to the opposing vehicles, provided that you start on course yourself and don’t crash.

Other teamwork mechanics include boost cooperation, where you work together to chain boosts – all of these actions generate points, and ultimately points wins races. Unfortunately, ONRUSH doesn’t support split screen multiplayer though, so team play with actual non-AI drivers is reserved for online multiplayer. Besides a statement that they love couch coop, the developer also hasn’t stated that split screen is a sure thing for the future – which would be a shame since this is a game that gets infinitely better when played with others and some living room setups lend themselves much better to a little couch coop.

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Taking out opponents, even in single player, is amazingly fun and can be done in a multitude of ways. You can shove them off the track or into a wall, or more or less bulldoze through them using boost. The best takedowns are done from above though, when you land right on top of someone after using a ramp. Others will try to do the same thing to you though, no matter if it’s AI or human opponents you’re racing.

Despite the frantic nature of the races, it pays to learn the track layout. There are chokepoints where you don’t want to get caught by someone boosting from behind, but knowing where the jumps are and where opponents might cluster together can make all the difference. It also helps a ton in keeping you on the track when you engage ONRUSH boost, which is so fast that you constantly feel like you’re on the verge of losing control.

ONRUSH looks good and performs great (30fps at 4K or 60fps at 1080p on a Pro), but doesn’t provide the wow-effect that Motorstorm did when it came out on the PS3 all those years ago. Water effects looks great and solar reflections do too though, but it’s hard to take notice when the action unfolds at such a blistering pace. In that sense, it’s a more polished gameplay experience than Motorstorm, though I wish that ONRUSH featured more diverse game modes as well. As exciting as the action was, I sometimes did miss being able to engage in actual races. Or am I just being nostalgic?

Score: 8.1/10

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