Onrush Review

Richard Walker

Onrush is what happens when you chuck MotorStorm and Burnout into a big ol' blender, sprinkle in one or two dashes of originality for good measure, then stir in some mud, grit and a bit of DiRT. While Onrush might ostensibly look like your standard, run-of-the-mill racer, it ain't. First and foremost, you're not really racing at all, and there are no prizes for finishing at the front of the pack. It's purely about teamwork and scoring more points than the opposition, which is a nice change of pace for an arcade racer. Or any kind of racer, for that matter.

The crux of what makes Onrush a different proposition to the rest of its off-road racing brethren is the 'Stampede' - a melee of rival vehicles and 'fodder' with which you'll jostle for supremacy, accumulating boost via varying methods to ultimately unleash your special Rush ability. Each of Onrush's eight vehicle classes has its very own set of attributes and a unique Rush that can help immeasurably in racking up takedowns for your team. Every vehicle has its own team role to play too, be it support, attack or defence, making it for all intents and purposes the racing equivalent of Overwatch.


As we've already mentioned, not one of Onrush's four modes is about finishing in first place. Overdrive simply tasks you and your teammates with building as much cumulative boost as you can to reach a score limit before the opposing team, whereas Countdown has you speeding through checkpoint gates against the clock to top up a rapidly dwindling timer. Once the time expires, your team loses the round and the team with seconds to spare on the clock wins. Lockdown is a fast-moving King of the Hill mode, wherein you're chasing a zone on the track to mark it in your colour and score a point, and Switch is essentially Onrush's take on the staple elimination mode, but with a smart twist.

In Switch, you start out on one of Onrush's two motorcycles (Blade and Outlaw), meaning you're quick but vulnerable. Once you're wiped out, you then 'switch' (do you see what they did there?) to the next vehicle type, until you're ultimately behind the wheel of one of the game's hulking great jeeps, the Titan or Enforcer; heavy but slow. The first team to lose all of its 'switches' loses the match. Switch is probably Onrush's most frenetic and exciting mode, though the other three aren't exactly gentle Sunday drives.

Four modes and a fairly straightforward single-player campaign in which you play these four modes against AI might not seem like much as far as content is concerned, but Onrush succeeds in being deliriously good fun, regardless. Every one of its race types is almost infinitely replayable, and even unlocking gear crates bundling new vehicle skins, clothing, tricks and celebrations for your chosen driver, as well as tombstones and 'crashtags' for your online ID proves to be a mildly compelling reward for your efforts.

Experimenting with Onrush's eight vehicle types is another way to inject variety into proceedings if you find the four modes start wearing a little thin, while jumping online presents an entirely different kind of challenge. Playing against the AI can be complete chaos, but against online competition, all bets are off. It's online where Onrush's real longevity lies, so it's fortunate that the entire package is incredibly slick (if a little light on options), connecting you quickly and keeping you hooked by cycling through modes. Be warned, though; Onrush's 6v6 multiplayer (with 12 AI opponents chucked into the mix) is the kind of competitive experience that's likely to make you yell at the screen with indignant rage when things aren't going your way.

You can create your own online Custom Races too if you prefer, and play with friends, but some may be sorely disappointed by the lack of a local split-screen option, especially when Onrush seems like the sort of game tailor-made for such a thing. Outside of multiplayer, there are dozens of solo races to enjoy in the Superstar mode, where from humble beginnings, you gradually transform the Onrush event into a huge global phenomenon. And there's a solid few hours of single-player smashing and crashing to be had in doing so, with over 100 events, all of which can also be played co-operatively with a buddy.


Single races expand into Tournaments, giving way to multi-race 'Weekenders', each featuring different objectives to complete that award points towards unlocking further races and events. You have a persistent player level too, across the solo or co-op Superstar mode and multiplayer, each new level you attain rewarding you with a gear crate. There's an in-game currency accumulated with each race and any milestones or medals you manage to earn, so you can purchase whichever cosmetic items you like for your favourite vehicles or driver.

Crucially, Onrush handles wonderfully, the controls and feel of the vehicles a marked improvement over the preview build we previously played. Each vehicle's strengths and weaknesses are well defined, and everything has a satisfying weight and heft to it, even when you're barrel-rolling through the air at 100mph. Crashes are fairly spectacular too, although the 'Wreckcam' when you've been pranged yourself, or the lingering cinematic camera when taking down a rival, can get a mite irritating. Smashing feeble fodder vehicles to earn boost is endlessly enjoyable, though, and ensures you're always ramming into something to generate sparks and twisted metal.

Fast, frantic and rather nice to look at, Onrush is the most fun you'll have with a racing game that isn't really a racing game. The only downside is that for a full-priced title, it seems somewhat light on content, even if what's here is remarkably strong and well-conceived stuff. Arguably, you don't really need any more than that. Onrush has MotorStorm's DNA all over it too, which is no surprise given that the same studio is involved. Yet Codies' off-road crash-bang melee is very much its own beast: a flashy, stylish piece of entertainment stripped down to its bare essentials, and all the better for it.

 

An eclectic mix of tunes that react to the action unfolding on-screen, and some neat commentary when it's needed. Onrush's soundtrack is exactly as it should be.

A really nice looking racer with some great pyrotechnic effects, spectacular crashes and cool vehicle designs.

Simple to pick up and play, it's almost impossible to put down Onrush once it's got its hooks into you. Enormous fun.

Single-player with co-op, four core modes and a decent multiplayer that's lacking Ranked Matches for now. A little light on content, overall, but what's here is strong. The lack of split-screen is a shame too.

Striking just the right balance between accessibility and grind, Onrush's achievement list almost gets the balance right. Not bad.

A stupidly fun arcade racer that confounded our expectations, Onrush is the perfect game for those seeking something immediate, accessible and effortlessly entertaining.

OVERALL: 80/100

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