Onrush Review (PS4)
Every match is packed with amazing moments
Finish Lines Are FinishedWhen is a racing game not a racing game? Simple – when it's Onrush. To anyone with even the slightest amount of experience with the genre, there are some telltale signs that this is something a little different. There's no lap counter in sight, no timer to chart your progress so far, and no position data to show your place in the pack. It doesn't need those things, because Onrush isn't just about speed or about finishing first. Instead, it brings a brand new selection of interesting team-based objective modes to motorsports and presents something that feels completely fresh, original, and most importantly of all, fun. It'll probably take some time to adapt to these new rules and systems after years of being told that being sat out in a comfortable lead is the best way to win, but once you learn the intricacies of each mode on offer, you'll end up wondering why there's never been a game like this before.
Opponents can't score if their vehicle is a smoking wreck
We should probably start by going through the four modes currently available, as mastering these is the key to getting most enjoyment out of the game. Simplest of the lot is Overdrive, where each of the six racers on each team contributes points to the overall score by boosting. That's basically it, although it does also introduce a fundamental part of Onrush's aggressive rule set – your opponents can't score if their vehicle is a smoking wreck. Taking down rivals just like Burnout taught us to do knocks them out of the action for a good 10-15 seconds, so Overdrive becomes a delicate balance of adding to the team's score and keeping opponents in check. Countdown is similar, only with gates to pass through to add precious seconds to an ever-decreasing timer. Again, aggression is key, even more so since you don't need to confirm a takedown to rob another racer of their time bonus... a simple shunt around the gate will do the job almost as well. The other two modes are rather different. Lockdown places fast-moving control points on the course at various intervals that teams must have most vehicles in for five seconds to capture (making for some amazing breakneck king-of-the-hill moments and clutch zone saves), while house favourite Switch effectively gives you three lives, starting in the lightest vehicle class and pushing you onto the next with each crash. Reach the fourth and final class and you're out of lives, remaining in the race purely to chase down rivals with lives remaining, with the winners declared as soon as one team is all out of lives.
Car WarsTo make all of this vehicular mayhem even more interesting, Codemasters has laid on eight unique vehicle classes across four main archetypes: bike, buggy, car, and truck. Interplay between these feels not unlike it did in Motorstorm (unsurprising, given the talented Evolution Studios alumni who worked on the game) and as you'd expect, a nimble-yet-fragile bike is only ever a tap away from destruction while the beefy trucks take some serious punishment. It's not quite that simple, however, as the unique abilities of each class play into a much deeper and more satisfying risk/reward system. Master the two-wheeled menace Blade, for instance, and its Rush ability can leave a Tron Light Cycle-style trail behind it, destroying any opponents who make contact with the neon deathtrap. But what is a Rush ability? Well, it's like an Overwatch Ultimate ability strapped to a rocket – a super-turbo with unique benefits for each class, earned by boosting and performing other class-specific feats. Some vehicles specialise in becoming devastating battering rams during Rush, while others can aid your team by topping up their boost or hinder opponents by placing hazards or draining their nitrous. A well-timed Rush can really turn the tide in your favour, and every vehicle has its own role on a team and strategy for keeping your lot in the lead.
A well-timed Rush can really turn the tide
On top of all that, each class also has a passive ability that helps them slot into their own positions. Interceptor is perfect for aggressively hunting takedowns, its enhanced boost power making it easier to rough up opponents; Enforcer briefly shuts down enemy boost on collisions, letting you turn off their scoring in Overdrive or keep them from reaching the control point in Lockdown; Dynamo drops boost top-ups as it uses boost itself, helping the team stay in top gear longer. Team composition is vital to success, and the ability to switch classes after you're taken out of the action lets you redress the balance dynamically, just as it does in Overwatch. Look at where your team is falling short or where opponents are pulling ahead, and make the counter-play – even if it means leaving some unused Rush power behind, crucial switches like this can win games once you know what you're doing.
Ahead Of The PackThe team-based nature of the game makes it a perfect fit for multiplayer, and that's where the game truly comes alive. Every game is wonderfully chaotic, with up to 12 players slamming their vehicles into one another and any vacant spots filled by AI bots to ensure a full grid. Playing as a full coordinated team, Onrush's superb match types come into their own and whether you're acting as a bodyguard for more fragile classes until they get their Rush ability to clean house or making huge solo plays to clear and steal a capture point with just fractions of a second left before the opponents score, every match is packed with amazing moments. While the gameplay doesn't translate quite so well to solo play (taking down AI racers will never be as satisfying as wrecking other players, after all), there's still a full single-player campaign to work through when you'd rather not deal with the intensity of multiplayer. AI could certainly be better – their idea of teamwork often involves nudging you into rocks or off cliffs, which is less than ideal – and coordinating team-wide plays just isn't possible with bots, so some of the tougher events end up a bit of a crapshoot. It's still frenzied fun, but it just lacks the thrill of actually working as a team to get one up on your rivals.
Every match is packed with amazing moments
Online multiplayer, then, is the game's real highlight, and it's only going to get better. There's just a single quick match option right now but a Ranked playlist is set to arrive soon, with the team hinting that it won't be the only addition coming to Onrush down the line. That'll be great to see because – on paper, at least – Onrush isn't exactly packed with content. A lot of people have made the mistake of comparing it to actual racing games with hundreds of cars and tens of courses, but that's not really a fair or accurate comparison. Instead, we should be looking to other competitive games and there, we see a comparable amount of content in heavy-hitters like Overwatch, Titanfall and Street Fighter V, all of which did just fine with their competitive focus at launch and grew even better and more substantial over time. If Onrush follows a similar trajectory, the future will be bright for this unique and enjoyable combat racing hybrid.
Video ReviewBold, brash and brilliant
- Colourful, aggressive, and great fun
- Interesting vehicle classes and modes
- Handling model is fantastic
- AI drivers aren't great
- Unskippable post-match fluff
- Too intense for some players
Onrush Review (PS4)Onrush's unique nature as a team-based vehicular combat game might throw those who go in expecting a traditional racing experience, but open your mind to the new possibilities and potential of the game and it's a riot.
Every high-octane stampede is a real rush and a complete sensory overload – beautiful visuals, over-the-top effects, satisfying collision physics, crunching sound effects and a swerving eclectic soundtrack that fits the chaos perfectly all conspire to make Onrush almost overwhelmingly intense at times.
It's the best kind of bedlam, and not since Burnout 3: Takedown have we seen a racing game achieve such great success by burning the rulebook and doing things its own way. Bold, brash and brilliant, Onrush is a very special game indeed.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £44.99
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