The brilliant people at Codemasters are a generous bunch. In fact, they were generous enough to send me a review copy for their new arcade racer Onrush. I've always been a huge fan of the Dirt and Grid games, so this review has a special place in my heart. Onrush offers a different racing experience than what you're used to getting, catering to both die-hard Burnout franchise fans and, wait for it...shooter games. Not in the way of a first-person shooter, though, no: Esports/competetive play. I've played several hours of this intense yet fun racing game and I definitely have a lot to talk about. Let's go!
Platform: standard Xbox One.
Introduction The game simply starts off with it going through what Onrush essentially is, and learning you the ropes of what you will be doing. A female voice, accompanied by tutorial clips, goes through what's featured in the game and how things work, which I quickly learned. Honestly, there's not that much to keep track of, since the game has a pretty simple concept (while also having the tendency to being a bit challenging). Later on, you'll get to be in-game and race, learning every important aspect of the game in order for you to survive Onrush's harsh racing enviroment. One of those is a power-up called "rush" that essentially is an extreme version of your regular boost which lasts for a few seconds (by activating rush, your vehicle aqquires an aura around the vehicle that lasts until your rush is depleted, too). There's also different versions of rush, to offer the perfect version for you. It's a pretty big part of the race, and you fuel it differently with each car (Enforcer, for example gets its rush fueled by taking down Fodder vehicles). Onrush features AI vehicles called Fodder vehicles that will always spawn ahead of you (dummy vehicles, pretty much) that are designed only to get wrecked in order for you to gain boost. Boost is very vital in Onrush, which is something you'll learn in the introduction of the game, as well as how the dummy vehicles work.
Once your training is complete, you're introduced to the main menu of the game. It has a pretty simplistic and basic design, as well as order (play, gear, personalise, crashtags, tips & videos, profile, and settings), all being vital to the full Onrush experience. You're now ready to enter your first real race (or to alter your character, crashtag, vehicle or tombstone). The Main menu also features a very useful tips section dedicated to help you with whatever you're wondering.
Onrush is developed by Codemasters, and if you're familiar with them (well, you're reading this, so you've obviously heard of them before or played their older games), you'll know that they are no strangers to incredible graphics and sound design. Guess what: Onrush is DEFINITELY no exception to that. Everything from the details of the cars you'll furiously be driving around in, to the sky, is gorgeously designed. The graphics are definitely the first awesome thing you'll easily notice about the game. Even the sparks coming off the vehicles when trading paint, looks great. There is so much havoc going on all the time in every race you're in, so sometimes it can be pretty hard to really appreciate the game's looks. Luckily, there's a photo mode in Onrush, too and believe me when I say that it is incredibly detailed and amazing (might even be one of the best photo modes I've ever tried in a video game). When it comes to the game's performance, I can't complain at all. I haven't experienced a single bug, and I haven't noticed any drop in the framerate either, even when a lot of different cars/bikes are clustered around each other.
Everything feels really good and optimized (except for the resolution on a standard Xbox One), which is something I really love in a game. On a standard Xbox One, Onrush is running in a resolution of 900p, at a rock-solid 30fps framerate. Now, I don't usually mind tiny resolution differences in a game, compared to another platform, but in this case, it's a bit weird. Xbox One is definitely powerful enough to prioritize the game's framerate to reach 60fps (so that there's two options), and at the LEAST reach a native 1080p resolution. It's not a huge deal at all, though and it doesn't affect my opinion about the game at all. We all know that hearing the vehicle's engine roar in a video game is very important, and Codemasters really nailed the sound design in Onrush. Everything from nearby opponents driving besides you trying to mowe you down, to vehicles getting wrecked to pieces, all sounds genuiene (there's something about Vortex's sound that I really love, it just sounds badass even though it's smaller) and realistic, as well as immersive (especially the vehicle you're in). I really get a sense of quality when I play Onrush (more importantly: it's insanely fun). They've detailed every little thing to the max, even the water on the vehicle's tires are noticable (at least in the photo mode) and my god: it's gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Seriously, Codemasters, amazing work! I can't stress it enough!
In Onrush you drive extremely fast and you'll have to keep your eyes on the road at all times. Not doing so will end in a wreckage, and maybe even an achievement unlocked by the opponent that wrecked you (and we don't want that, right?). It's one of the most fast paced racing games I've played. Onrush has four different modes: Overdrive, Switch, Countdown and Lockdown. They all offer different and awesome ways to play the game (like in Countdown mode, your team race against the clock in order to get more time within the race than your opponents, by entering checkpoints scattered around the track). An arcade racing game like this obviously won't have fully realistic car/bike handling and it definitely shows. You vehicle turn very quickly and easily, and it might feel a bit off to some people (I know that some people dislikes weird handling in racing games, so Onrush might not be a game suitable for all racing fans).
Still, it is to be expected, Onrush isn't Forza Motorsport by any way other than that they share the same genre, pretty much. In Onrush it's all about speed, boost, wrecking other people, and trying to win. There's no rules, you'll have to do anything to win. If you're familiar with the Burnout franchise, you'll love Onrush, since wrecking other vehicles is a huge part of it. To help you know if a vehicle is close to being wrecked, there's two red arrows around the vehicle that'll show up. Boosting when jumping makes you hit the ground faster, and not boosting while jumping makes you land farter ahead. I can guarantee that you'll feel almost terrified at times due to the possibility of a vehicle bigger than your own, being right behind you, just waiting to crush your puny little vehicle. You might think that driving a bike in Onrush is a deathwish but fear not: their flexibility will outsmart the bigger vehicles, and you can actually gain boost more often than the cars since you're able to perform tricks (which is a really cool bonus). Each time you get wrecked, a wreckcam shows up that shows exactly how you got crushed. Afraid you'll get too far behind while racing? Lucky for you then, you'll automatically get respawned directly at the heat of the moment again.
There's a fair amount of tracks featured in the game, and they all look really good (especially in the photo mode), while also being very big. They're full of jumps, dangerous enviroments and gorgeous wallpaper-worthy backgrounds (the sky looks incredible and really realistic, too). The thing about Onrush is that it's incredibly good looking but it's very hard to appreciate it all without entering the photo mode.
There's also destructible items in the game, and it fits really well with it. For example, you can jump right through a billboard (at least it looks like one) in one map, and it also helps you gain boost. I love destructible enviroments! Did an opponent drive away from you, and you see a big jump ahead of you? Land on top of it and get a sweet boost of...well, boost (maybe even snag a nice looking photo of you crushing it)! The game offers a lot of different routes you can take in each track, so that there's a good amount of variety. I never really felt that taking the same router got boring, since the game is so chaotic and fun that you'll don't mind taking the same router anyway. The chance that you'll take a different route is pretty high, though.
Onrush offers a vast amount of customization options. You're able to change character (there's 12 different characters to choose from), alter your character's appearance (at least the outfit), change your tombstone (which is something you drop when you get wrecked, that other players can hit to gain boost), change your crashtag (your profile's background, pretty much), change your celebration (that your character activates when featured as one of the best players in a race), change tricks (that, obviously, only players that uses bikes can perform) and lastly: change your vehicle and the way it looks (there are 8 vehicles to choose from and yes, they're all really badass!).
I've mostly used Charger and Interceptor, mainly because they're the perfect cars for me, offering both a stable amount of durability and speed (Vortex is pretty good, too, but it's a bit too small for my preference). Each car has its own unique powers (Charger, for example has an airstrike power that improves your magnetism on in-air attacks). Onrush features a loot box system (though I'm not sure if you're able to get one by spending real money) that lets you unlock cosmetic items (such as tombstones, vehicle skins, and tricks). I really liked the way you open the gear crates, which is done by a vehicle ramming it. You're definitely a creative bunch of people, Codemasters!
I wasn't able to play a multiplayer match that featured a full lobby of real players (the game puts AI drivers in the match if there's a spot unfilled, which is a very good system) until today (5th of June), because I missed all the play sessions that were taking place at different times for all the people that were reviewing the game, but that doesn't change my opinion about the multiplayer portion of the game. Multiplayer works flawlessly, pretty much and I never experienced any lag or bugs. I did notice that the game got a bit harder when competing in a full match of real players (obviously) but that just made the whole experience even more fun! This game was made to be a bit challenging, and if you're not one for challenging online racing games, this game might not be made for you.
You should expect yourself getting wrecked a lot of times if you're not used to this type of games. The game is essentially a multiplayer-only game but there's a singleplayer element to, too: Superstar mode. In Superstar, you race against AI drivers (though you can invite people to play with you) in different missions where you have a set of objectives that you have to complete in order to earn stars. You start with the first tour called Origins, and work your way up to unlock more tours. In addition to Superstar mode, there's also "Quickplay", "Ranked" (which hasn't released yet), and "Custom game" which is where you're able to create your own private lobby, to create the race that you prefer to play. Perfect!
All in all
With racing games being such a big part of the video game world, there was never any doubt of Codemasters bringing a new racing IP to the table again, which can only mean one thing: success. Onrush is the perfect racing game for people that want to get a bit of everything (except for split-screen, which is a big -) when it comes to wrecking vehicles, having a TON of fun, driving extremely fast, having a lot of customization options, and much more! I enjoyed every bit of gameplay I've experienced and I want to thank Codemasters for developing another amazing racing game! You'll never get bored with Onrush, and I almost felt like I was playing Burnout or Dirt for a moment (of at least an extreme version of Dirt) which is only a good thing.
Onrush is out today (the 5th of June) and is priced at $60, with the Deluxe edition being $20 more.
(A review copy was provided by Codemasters for review purposes)
This review is written by Jesper Ingemansson and is based on his honest opinion about the game.