If you have already read my preview of Onrush then I apologise for the next paragraph but I feel it’s important to understand a little bit of history when it comes to Onrush before we get to the review.
Codemasters, back in 2016, acquired the highly acclaimed and extremely talented Evolution Studios after Sony decided to part ways with them. Renowned for the likes of the Motorstorm franchise and having only ever made racing games this seemed like a good fit for Codemasters who, let’s face it, are a leading force in the genre. With games like DIRT and the F1 franchise under their belt expanding their portfolio was inevitable. That’s where Onrush comes into play.
Onrush is completely different to anything Codemasters have attempted before. An arcade racer that, instead of point to point or running laps in the fastest time possible, wants you to focus on combat, team work and objectives to win. Why was mentioning Evolution Studios important at the start of this review? Well…. If you’ve played any of the Motorstorm franchise you might just notice some similarities.
Onrush isn’t like your run of the mill racer you see. For a start there is no finish line to be seen. Instead you’re tasked with objective based game modes. “Lockdown” for instance will have you driving towards a coloured area where you have to maintain your hold for five full seconds while the opposing team try and jostle for position. The zone will keep pace with the fastest car in your fleet whether this be AI in single player or one of your 5 team mates in multiplayer. Another mode sees you racing through markers and adding time to your team’s count based on the width of the marker at the time of crossing it. My favourite mode “Overdrive”, has you try and use the most boost possible. The team at the end that accomplishes this wins the round. The last mode I’d like to mention is “Switch.” This mode is carnage and strategy mixed into one; each member starts with three lives and once you have depleted all of the opposition’s lives you win. There is a catch however, players who lose all of their lives before the “race” is over can still spawn and cause havoc with the opposition. This is where strategy comes into play and Codemasters have accommodated for this.
Each vehicle in Onrush has its own role to play and at times feels almost like a squad-based shooter as opposed to a racing game. Take the motorbike for instance; a super-fast and energetic choice but with little in the way of defence. On the other end of the scale you have the jeep; heavily armoured and almost impenetrable but a lot more sluggish. That would normally be enough but Codemasters have took this idea a little further by giving each vehicle its own specialisation and power up. Let’s take the motorbike; landing after big air will send a shock wave outwards, knocking opponents off course while the truck or jeep previously mentioned will shield other team mates around it preventing the opposition from blowing them up. This is squad racing like you have never seen it before and a well-oiled team can decimate the opposition with ease in any game mode should they work together. Specials are also available and again, like I said, each vehicle has its own. The motorbike sets out a trail behind it and anything that crosses its path will be destroyed.
Building these specials requires you to destroy other players or the over the top and generous amounts of cannon fodder that you find along the way. Easy to distinguish with black and gray colouring, these play mates are there for one thing and one thing only; for you to take them out. Not only does ploughing through these unsuspecting victims grant you boost, something which is a constant race in itself to maintain, but also builds your overdrive meter allowing you to unleash your special. Killing isn’t the only way to add to your meter and pulling off big jumps will also add a small amount. The best way of filling it however is to take out the opposition. In true Burnout style, smashing an unwilling player, let’s say into a tree, will dramatically increase your meter and is the best strategy for keeping your boost levels high. Falling victim to one of these attacks is highly frustrating but due to what Codemasters calls “stampede” your never out of the action for long. Once you fall fate to an enemy attack you’ll respawn within seconds and from a rolling start which means you’re never out of the action for long.
Graphically you’ll get exactly what you’ve come to expect from Codemasters. Highly detailed landscapes that look glorious while you scream along at a blistering pace. Light shafts that protrude through trees and hamper your vision should you come face on with them. Level design is also accomplished to an excellent standard. Tracks are smooth and well thought out with multiple routes for you to take and gain advantage over the oncoming onslaught of enemy cars. The scenery is also stunning with buildings, structures and trees scattered across the landscape just waiting for you to smash someone into them. I also have to mention the lack of problems I faced. While I was playing on PS4 I didn’t receive any issues at all. Having seen some posts, mainly on the XBOX version, that have struggled with server lag I can safely say I managed to dodge this bullet.
Now on to the bad news…. Even after all that Onrush is trying to evolve the arcade racing genre I was still hankering for a good old-fashioned race mode! Pair that with the somewhat overly easy single player mode and having to get a team of 6 together to get the most out of the multiplayer and I’m struggling to understand where or what audience Codemasters are aiming this game at. On the one hand you have little old me wanting to play the game by myself. Single player overcompensates for you being the only real player by reducing the difficulty of the opponents dramatically, while multiplayer is obviously tactical warfare that only a long running squad will be able to master.
That all being said, Codemasters have delivered a superb spectacle of a game the likes of which has only ever been trumped by the aforementioned Burnout.