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October 25, 2005
L.A. Rush - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
21/10/2005Red AntMidway1-2PGMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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L.A. Rush looks nice enough.
If you were a racing game fan during the 1990's you almost certainly would have heard of San Francisco Rush from Midway. There were three versions of the game for the arcades and San Francisco Rush 2049 was also ported to home systems including the Dreamcast, Nintendo 64 and Playstation. It has been quite a while since we've seen a game in the series so this was always going to be of interest to gamers.

L.A. Rush has players take on the role of Trikz, a street racer from Los Angeles at the top of his game who arrives home from vacation to discover all of his rides have been stolen by his chief rival, Lidell Rey who is voiced by Bill Bellamy (Any Given Sunday, The Brothers). L.A. Rush also includes actor/comedian Orlando Jones (Drumline, Evolution, The Replacements), in the role of Trikz's partner, Ty Malix. Also lending their voice and likeness to the game's cast are Ryan, Mad Mike, Q, Big Dane, Ish and Alex from West Coast Customs Inc., and platinum-selling rapper Twista who appears as the world's fastest man brought to Los Angeles as a driver for Lidell Rey. It's your job to take to the streets to get your rides back.

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Lining up to race.
While previous games in the series were pure racing titles Midway have changed the format of this game to be much closer to EA's Need for Speed titles. That being you can now roam around the city and find locations to enter races or challenges. In fact there are three types of missions to enter. The first are those to enter races to earn your respect, street cred and more importantly the location of your stolen vehicles. The second type of race is that which allows you to steal your opponents vehicle while the third sees you trashing the enemies property. This all takes place on approximately 350 miles of Los Angeles streets including world famous districts such as Hollywood, Santa Monica, South Bay, South Central and Downtown. In fact L.A. Rush is probably even bigger then EA's Need for Speed titles in terms of city size.

Actually controlling the cars is pretty enjoyable as they are responsive and as you race around, much like Take Two's Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition the game puts up markers so you can see the next objective. As you race it's also possible to pick up nitros to give you that little extra boost to get to the finish line first. The game includes over 40 cars from world famous brands such as Dodge, Chevrolet, Hummer, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Lotus, and Subaru. Of course it's also possible to pimp your ride with after market parts from manufacturers such as ProCharger, Nitrous Express, Carbon Creations, NISMO, Borla Performance Industries and Dayton Wire Wheels to name just a few.

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The crash replays look great.
As well as the main story mode it's possible to enter a Quick Race which is exactly as it sounds. The only other game option is a 2-player split screen mode which is welcome however there are no online options which is disappointing given the big shift to include this in racing games of late. The split screen mode can be split either horizontally or vertically which is a nice addition.

Ultimately Midway have tried to emulate the success of other racing titles rather then sticking to this franchises arcade roots which is a shame. It's simply not as enjoyable or well executed as several other street racing games. The track design is less then friendly and you'll have to spend a considerable amount of time looking at the small map then actually where you are on the road, often leading to collisions. This leads us into two other big issues in the game.

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Getting some monster air!
The first is that it's impossible to easily tell which objects in the game world are destructible, and which are not. Should you try to crash through that tree to get to the line? Sometimes it will succeed, other times you'll end up in a crumpled mess. Which brings us to one of the most annoying aspects in a video game in recent memory. When you crash the game switches you to a replay of the event and the destruction being caused. This would be fine were it not for the fact that this runs at a super slow speed, often taking 10 or more seconds to see it all, and criminally, you can't skip this replay. Finally we have to mention the cops who won't take to your dangerous driving and will swarm over you like flies on shit. Just like flies on shit, the cops are only an annoyance and not really any threat to you. Get caught (which is rare) and you'll pay a fine before heading back onto the streets.

The graphics in L.A. Rush a are a bit of a mixed bag. Quite a few items and objects are destructible as previously mentioned which is nice but overall the game looks a little on the dull side and not the vibrant game we expect in the series. It must be said that the city area recreated for this game is quite large and has plenty of shortcuts, jumps and pickups littered around the place to keep you occupied for hours on end. The game engine, while not the best seen retains a fairly good frame rate even with the destruction flying around you although there is the odd bit of popup. We've already mentioned how annoying it is not to be able to skip collision replays, but it must be said these are pretty damn impressive, not quite Burnout but not too far off either. Sadly there is no 60Hz mode, Widescreen mode or, god forbid, progressive scan mode.

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Look, a fender bender.
Audio is highlighted by the inclusion of 75 songs from over 25 artists including Lil Kim and DJ Rap, with two unreleased tracks by Twista, and four original songs by Damian Valentine. It's fair to say that much of the music is pretty derivative but it is possible to switch between hip-hop, techno and rock which should keep most gamers happy. The voice acting was also solid enough and rarely groan inducing while the effects are adequate. This is all rounded off nicely with some surround sound.

So L.A. Rush is a street racer rather then an arcade styled racer of past games. Unfortunately we've seen most of this before and the way in which some aspects of this game are executed, particularly the non skippable crash replays and the average track layouts, leaves something to be desired. It's a shame that Midway didn't just re-create the arcade thrills of previous games with updated graphics and sound as this game is likely to be lost in the crowd before it even hits the shelves. A game for the racing crowd only.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
GRAPHICSIt actually looks OK, albeit a bit dull in spots. Annoying replays.
SOUNDA decent hip-hop soundtrack, good voice work and passable effects.
GAMEPLAYThis could have been a lot better, but what's here is mildly entertaining.
VALUEReleased at $AU79.95 and 15+ hours to complete, no online hurts a bit.
OVERALLL.A. Rush is quite a change for the series and while not as good as some other street racers should offer quite a few hours or fun, and some annoyances (damn those collision replays!). Worth a try if you're a racing fan.

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