Hot on the heels of Burnout Paradise Remastered is a game from Codemasters and Deep Silver called Onrush, and just like the famous franchise from EA this game is all about fast cars, crashing said cars, and getting points by doing risky business in the cars. We recently jumped into the driver's seat of this upcoming arcade racer in London at a preview event, and after the dust settled on the carnage we were left impressed with how intense the action got.
The premise isn't so much about the racing as it is about the objectives. During the opening tutorial an AI voice tells you in plain English that being first-place doesn't count for anything in this game, so don't worry about being ahead of the pack. Instead, you'll always be in a swarm of other cars going around the track, regardless of the game mode.
One of modes we got to play was Overdrive, and this was all about chaining boosts together to earn points for your team. How best to do this? By near misses, big air, and bashing your opponents of course. Aggression is rewarded, as is risk-taking, and this is where Onrush excels, as you always seem to be in the middle of things. Then there was Countdown, and here it's all about making sure each of your team passes through the gates in time to prolong the ever-decreasing timer, again rewarding those who bash other vehicles off the road while still hitting all the checkpoints for their crew.
Codemasters said before we played that they've made a conscious effort to keep the pace high throughout each match you play, and they do this in a number of ways. Firstly, despite there only being 12 players in the match, there are plenty of what are called 'fodder' vehicles to battle with as well; with weaker AI vehicles that are easy to crash and grant extra boost. The game also brings you back into the middle of the pack if you lag too far behind as well, and with a short loading time if you crash, you'll never find yourself out of the race for long.
Of course, another thing that keeps the pace high is the inherent speed in the game, as everything seems to move at quite literally 100 miles an hour. From the very start you're placed into a moving pack of cars, and you never stop even for a second, meaning that since there's no emphasis on being ahead of the group either, you can focus solely on what's going on on either side of you, rather than what's happening in front (watch out for trees though!). This means more crashing, more bumping, and a load of jumps, and it's definitely tons of fun as a result.
The Rush mechanic takes all of this and dials it up to 11, as you'll gradually fill a gauge during a match that can eventually be activated when full, allowing you this extra-intense boost that lets you go faster and destroy other cars more easily. Timing this is vital for ensuring your team's success, as you could easily press this at the wrong moment and get destroyed by someone else, or you could use it to claw some precious points back in Countdown and demolish some enemies.
There are different classes to choose from during these races as well, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Outlaw, for example, is a lightweight bike that drains boost from opponents when Rushing, earns Rush directly from performing tricks, and shockwaves enemy cars when landing heavily. The Titan, on the other hand, is a huge beast of a car that drops blockade walls when Rushing, slowing down opponents, earns Rush from taking down opponents, and gives nearby teammates shields.
The key is to carefully pick the cars based on your team's composition and the game mode at hand. For example, the Titan's blockades will be particularly useful in Countdown, as it'll slow your opponents' progression to each gate, as will the Blade bike's destructive trail of fire as part of its Firewall ability. Have no fear if you mess up your choice though, as in the few seconds after your in-game crash you'll have the ability to change your class, so you can always mix things up.
We rather enjoyed how all of this worked in unison, and it definitely produced a dazzling series of matches that was pretty much all action all the time. But that's the point. You'll always be boosting, looking for that Rush and for the windows when you can build your boost. It encourages the mindset that risk equals reward, and players that embrace this may find themselves crashing, but ultimately they'll also reap the biggest benefits.
We hope there's a few more classes and tracks as time goes on, but considering this is a preview build we're rather hopeful of the future for Onrush. It's not quite the same game as Burnout, but it's definitely in the same genre of racing games that aren't really about realism. If you like speed, carnage, and destruction, Onrush is certainly a game to keep an eye on, especially if you have some friends you can play along with.