Monday, August 13, 2018

Onrush Review (XONE)

From racing game experts Codemasters and the developers behind Sony's Motorstorm franchise, at first blush Onrush seems for all the world like the off road Burnout-style game of our dreams. With fast-paced action as you and a horde of other drivers tear through the wilderness trying to wreck each other at every opportunity, Onrush is a blast. At least it is at first, but then reality comes crushing down and you realize that destruction for destruction's sake isn't actually all that fun for long. Onrush isn't actually a racing game, you see, it's just a crashing game, and that gets boring after faster than you'd think. Continue reading our full Xbox One Onrush review for all of the deails.

Game Details

  • Publisher: Deep Silver
  • Developer: Codemasters
  • ESRB Rating: "E10" for Everyone 10+
  • Genre: Racing
  • Pros: Sense of speed; some fun modes
  • Cons: Team aspect is undercooked; gets boring pretty quickly
  • MSRP: $50
Click to Buy Onrush at
The first thing that needs to be said about Onrush is that it isn't a racing game. There is no traditional racing mode here and you can't "win" by being faster than other drivers. It is, instead, a futuristic new "sport" where two teams slam and bang around large open outdoor courses and points are earned in special ways depending on what mode you play in. There are several classes of vehicles to choose from, each with unique strengths and weaknesses and abilities when you earn "Rush" mode. Gameplay modes include one where you simply have to use turbo boost for as long as possible to earn points, one where you pass through checkpoints to add more time to your team's clock, one where you have to control a moving zone that speeds around the track, and one where everyone starts on motorcycles and switch to a new vehicle class when you crash.

That last mode, appropriately called Switch, is easily the best and most interesting one as it is very hectic and crazy with lots of vehicle classes flying all over. All four modes ultimately end up playing pretty much the same, though, because of the core foundation of the game where it isn't a racing game, it's a crashing game. You earn more boost and "Rush" meter by wrecking your opponents, so that's your focus, and it gets boring after a while. Matches in Onrush just feel like two packs of wolves running through the forest while trapped under blanket snarling and snapping at each other with no real objective. (Darn, that actually sounds cooler than I wanted it to ...). By comparison to how boring Onrush starts to feel a few hours in, Burnout is a great series because it is an actual racing game underneath the crashes. Onrush is just crashes.

Another issue with Onrush is a weirdly undercooked team aspect that doesn't really add much to the experience. The whole point of the game is two teams tearing through the wilderness wrecking each other, but there isn't actually any teamwork to be found. There are no special team moves or unique crashes or really anything you can do involving the other cars on your team. Because of the way the scoring systems work in each mode, you're 100% better off just minding your own business and earning points, so what was the point of giving the game a team focus in the first place? Different vehicle classes do have special abilities like dropping nitro boosts and other things that "could" help your team, but in my experience they didn't play that much of a role. I suppose a coordinated team of human players online might come up with some effective strategies, but I would assume that the best way to actually win is still to just run your own race and score points.

It's a shame that Onrush is burdened by such weird design choices because the actual driving feels pretty great. Each vehicle class has a unique feel and they're all viable and fun to use regardless of mode. The game has a fantastic sense of speed as well and the crashes can be brutal. There is a little bit of inconsistency, though, as you never know when a tiny bump will somehow totally wreck you or if sliding into a barrier .0001 MPH too fast will lead to a crash, so it can be a little frustrating as the crash physics seem almost random.

The result of all of this is a game that feels pretty good to play but is held back by inconsistent physics and a lack of variety that makes it feel pretty repetitive after just a few hours. All of the race types end up playing the same and there aren't enough vehicle types or tracks to make up for the lack of variety elsewhere. Onrush is a total blast for about two hours, and then it gets boring.

The presentation in Onrush is just okay. The environments look okay but stand out more or less depending on lighting. The vehicles are made up off road Frankenstein's monster-type vehicles that look okay. There are a ton of cosmetic items you can unlock, but they honestly don't add much to the experience. As I mentioned above, the sense of speed is quite good and the framerate is fairly stable (I didn't notice any significant drops, at least). The music and sound effects are similarly okay.

In the end, Onrush is just too shallow to really hold your attention for long enough to make a full priced purchase worthwhile. Not to pile on, but the game has been on sale for 50% off every other week since release, and had a free play weekend on Xbox One (which is how I played it) for good reason - it isn't worth the full $50 MSRP. If you're interested in giving it a try, wait for a sale as there are a few hours worth of fun here. If you're expecting a deep and satisfying driving experience, however, Onrush won't deliver.