L.A. Rush Preview
The success of the Burnout series has spawned new interest
in the arcade racing genre. Sure, racing games have always been popular, but
it's rare that an arcade-style game garners votes for game of the year like
Burnout 3 did in 2004. One game that's looking to capitalize on the genre's
popularity is L.A. Rush, a console only update of the popular arcade series.
Rush takes the frantic action of Burnout and mixes it with the "go anywhere"
freedom of games like Need For Speed: Underground and Midnight Club. After
getting some hands-on time with the game, it's looking much better than it did
at E3, but it still feels like your average arcade racer.
L.A. Rush features a Story Mode where you must re-acquire 30 cars taken from your personal possession and gain back your respect and street credit by completing missions. The main character is Trikz, a street racer from Los Angeles 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. Trikz's partner, Ty Malix is voiced by Orlando Jones, and other people lending their voice and likeness to the game's cast are Ryan, Mad Mike, Q, Big Dane, Ish and Alex from West Coast Customs and rapper Twista.
As you may have guessed, the racing in L.A. Rush takes place in Los Angeles. All of the famous areas of the city from Hollywood, Santa Monica, South Bay, South Central, and Downtown are in the game. The city design is far from realistic, and it's done on a much smaller scale, but most of the city's recognizable locations are in the game. The visuals are solid, but there's a fair amount of pop-up, and many, many of the buildings look the same. The vehicles are nice looking, and of course, each one is fully destructible. When you wreck, the game cuts to a slow motion, cinematic angle that shows the carnage in great detail. It's here that the visuals are most impressive.
I played a race, which was a standard checkpoint based race through the Hollywood Hills. There were tons of shortcuts and Nitrous pickups, and since the checkpoints are beacons of light shot into the air, they are easy to see from a distance. Unfortunately, if you miss a turn you often are screwed because of a lack of alleyways between buildings. There are some alleys, but when there's not one when you need one, and you have to go around the block, it's frustrating.
There's also a roaming mode where you can explore the city,
learn routes, and basically do whatever you want. Since many things are
destructible, it's fun to drive around and smash into things - including the
Hollywood sign. As you cause damage, the cops will take notice and try and put
an end to your rampage. A weird quirk I noticed was that the police won't chase
you if you drive off the road up a hill; they just give up and go about their
business. Obviously this can be fixed before the final release, but it's worth
Rush will allow you to race, modify, steal and pimp over 50 rides, and you can do it in style since the game has a licensing deal with West Coast Customs and Rides Magazine. Manufacturers such as Mitsubishi, Cadillac, and Chevrolet are included in the game, giving it a robust list of destructible cars. Some of the vehicles are:
2005 Dodge Magnum RT
2005 Dodge SRT-4
2004 Dodge RAM Rumble Bee
2004 Dodge Viper SRT-10
1969 Dodge Charger R/T
2006 Dodge Charger R/T
2004 Cadillac Escalade
2004 HUMMER H2
2002 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
1970 Chevrolet Chevelle™ SS 454
1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
1967 Chevrolet Camaro COPO 427
1964 Chevrolet Impala SS
2005 Pontiac GTO
1966 Pontiac GTO
2004 Chevrolet SSR
1973 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
1987 Buick GNX
1988 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
1971 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible
1959 Chevrolet Impala
2000 Chevrolet Impala SS
2006 Pontiac Solstice
2004 Lotus Elise III
2005 Lotus Exige
2003 Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder
2002-2004 Mitsubishi Lancer EVO V
2004 Nissan Sentra SE-R SPEC V
1995 Nissan 240SX XE,
2002 Nissan Skyline GT-R
2005 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab
2005 Nissan Titan
2004 Infiniti FX45
2004 SALEEN S7
2004 Subaru Impreza WRX STi
Rush is going to feature an impressive soundtrack that contains over 75 songs from over 25 artists including Lil Kim and DJ Rap, two unreleased tracks by Twista, four original songs by Damian Valentine and more. You're sure to find at least a few songs in there that you like.
Keep in mind that the game's story mode, where Midway promises a bulk of the gameplay, was not playable, so we didn't get to experience stealing cars, pimp our rides, nor did we get to see any of the cut-scenes. It's really going to come down to how all of this is implemented to determine whether or not the game is going to be able to stand apart of the crowd of games this holiday season.
9/9/2005 Aaron Thomas