Reviews// Onrush

Posted 14 Jun 2018 17:30 by
Not many games instantly grab my attention in an overwhelmingly positive way. The last game to do so was Titanfall. I played it at an Expo and it was as if everything that the game was trying to do poured straight into my head.

I understood the mechanics and why they work together or against each other. I was overwhelmed by the visuals, sounds and with that feeling you get from playing something you love. An instant hit of gaming satisfaction that got me so hyped for release that I would talk about it to my gaming friends every day.

Usually a game takes a while to sink in. There's a point where it clicks. With Titanfall there was no time for it to click, it had me from the moment I picked up the controller.

I've not had that feeling since 2013. I've loved games since, obviously and some more so than Titanfall, but I've not had that rush of blood to the head in the five years between that and Onrush.

Like Titanfall I played Onrush for the first time at an Expo. I sat down to play what I thought was a MotorStorm-style game made by ex-MotorStorm developers. I started to drive and got that feeling again.

When my time was up I stood open-mouthed looking at my friends. Those intense five or 10 minutes will stick with me for a long time and I instantly promoted it to the top of my most wanted list for 2018.

As always though, excitement comes with fear. The period between my first experience and the time I got my hands on the final product was one filled with worry. What if it was a one trick pony? What if it didn't live up to the hype I was building not only in my head, but spitting over other people? What if I'd fallen for a game that didn't quite hold up for an extended period of play?

If you've not heard about Onrush you'd be forgiven to think that it's a racing game. It's not. There's no start or finish line, no need to try to be in front of the other drivers. If you're ahead of the pack there are times you'll benefit from whacking on the brakes to fall behind. It's not what it looks like.

Onrush is actually a team-based vehicle brawler. It's not about neatly taking corners or choosing when to overtake, it's about battering the crap out of everything that happens to be within battering distance. It's aggression over finesse.

There are four game modes on offer, all of which will have an effect on everything you do, from vehicle selection to driving style.

Overdrive keeps things simple. Using boost earns points for your team. You can earn boost from taking down AI-controlled vehicles, hitting ramped jumps or, if you're on a bike, pulling off stunts. Chain boosts together and you'll be multiplying your contribution to your team's collective score.

Countdown introduces checkpoint gates. Each team starts with 30 seconds on the clock and each driver tops up the constantly ticking-down timer by driving through them. Miss a few gates and your team's time will quickly slip away. Once it hits 0, you lose.

Lockdown is King of the Hill on a race track with a large circle gliding on the surface. Get more vehicles in it than the other team for five seconds and that's a round won.

And finally Switch, the mode that feels more than a little inspired by the current fascination with survival games. You start on bikes and have to move to another class every time you're taken out. Each driver gets three lives and once everyone on your team is out of lives it's game over.

Each game mode is excellent and requires you to adopt a unique tactic. You'll have your favourite and least favourite, but each one is fun enough to stop you from sighing when it's loading the one you're not as keen on. I'm already seeing arguments on forums as to which mode is the best one and that's got to be a good sign.

Personally my favourite so far is Lockdown. It gives everyone on the track a focal point to aim for while asking you to do as much as you can to block off the other team as well as make your own way to the objective and remain there. It's also the game mode that forced me to look into the different vehicle classes and assess their advantages.

There are eight different vehicle types to choose from, from lightweight bikes to heavy truck-style juggernauts but, it's not just speed and weight that will determine what seat to jump into. Use enough boost and you can use your onrush, the game's self-titled ultra move not too dissimilar to Overwatch.

At first it appears that this is just a temporary speed boost, but soon you'll notice that each onrush has a different ability. Some cars spawn roadblocks, others blind opponents. The first time I worked that out my team were getting hammered in the circle in a game of Lockdown so I switched to a vehicle that gave a shield to all of my teammates while my onrush was active. That was the moment I realised that this wasn't just about getting Burnout-style takedowns. There's more to think about.
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