Thursday, 26 September 2013

Dreamcast RUSH 2049



Years ago, games on particularly older systems would either be a one-shot gimmick with the focus being upon the main engine of the game. Or the game would be a mishmash of multiple game types with each game type being played drastically differently. One moment you'd be throwing darts in a pub and the next, abseiling down a canyon while avoiding the sides but going too quickly makes you fall and going too quickly gets you set on fire.  Sometimes the games would be hugely different in their game play from one even to another and today would be considered to be just a series of mini-games. Other games took the main engine of the game and adjusted it to similar game types but different ways of playing it. This game is the latter of that type of multigame.

This game is effectively 3 games in one based around cars.

Game Makers and Gamers have often wanted more and bigger and better thrills in race. Top down view wasn't enough so let us have first person views on race tracks. That not enough? Ok let's have other cars on the track we can race against, on top of that let’s have multiple players playing. Sprites not enough, let's upgrade to polygons. Racing not enough? Let's throw in weapons and guns. That not enough, let's have furiously quick game play, huge jumps and leaps, traps, tricks and explosions. That still not enough? How about WINGS!

Ok... now we're talking San Francisco Rush 2049.

The Rush series of games have built up on racing around cityscapes, using shortcuts triggered by buttons in out-of-the-way places and having some crazy jumps and leaps. This game goes beyond that with the fun side of things by allowing the cars to sprout planes while airborne to help stabilise, balance and trick out some mad moves by spinning, endo-ing and flipping here there and everywhere.

As said at the start, there are essentially 3 games here. However your profile/car can be modified with tyres, frames, engines etc to change the performance of the vehicles. All of these unlocked by winning races and circuit sets, travelling distances in miles/kilometres and collecting coins. Yep even this game has a collecting session. Each level/track has 8 silver and 8 gold coins. The silvers tend to be easier to collect while the golds are often awarded for finding the most hidden, out of the way places, or performing the largest leaps at very specific speeds and angles and usually requires the most powerful engines and lightest frames to reach them.

The main game is racing. Multiple tracks set in and around a futuristic San Francisco scene with booster tracks, short cuts under mountains, through construction yards, loop the loops, corkscrews and death defying leaps of amazing views. You start with 5 other vehicles and once you're racing, how you get to the finish line is up to you. Race the usual track and try to beat the other racers or take the short cuts to get ahead and secure more points and positions, which becomes essential when the other cars out class you. The downside to the shortcuts is that if you fail to beat the shortcut you'll end up crashing and being put back on the track with a slower speed and usually a fair bit behind where you'd be normally. Quite a drawback when the shortcut usually isn't much of a boost, save for the rare one or two that take big chunks off the tracks. Others are substantially difficult to judge as they have loops that take you back before taking you forwards.

The second main game mode is a stunt track. Several levels (with 8 gold and 8 silver coins each) designed with lots of jumps and leaps, boosts and such to get the players into the air quickly and for long durations to perform tricks. The more variation of a trick in a jump, the bigger the multiplier. You can either play solo to try and gain score or go head to head with multiplayer mode to see who gets the highest scores. Cumulative scores unlock further maps and levels in the game. The more awkward players will cause accidents with other players to stop them scoring, fail to land the trick and explode and you get nothing for your launch attempt. Games tend to be 5minutes in length aside from changing the settings.

The final mode is the weapons battle where it's multiplayer only (or solo if you want to learn the level) where there's a selection of weapons for players to collect and use against each other. Each player has a pistol instead of wings while weapon upgrades include sonic blasters, grenades, lasers, machineguns, rockets and battering rams. With people getting either first to x kills or most within a time limit. No coins in these tracks, just flatter areas for people to battle more steadily within the confines of the level. Other power ups include shields, repairs and stealth/cloaking (but the missile will still find you).

There's a lot of variety to keep a lot of players enjoying the game for a long time, particularly the "must collect everything" players with the coins and cars, engine parts, tyres, transmissions (auto, manual, sport, pro) and even levels to unlock, and the ultimate challenge, The Gauntlet, you've got a few minutes to get through some of the toughest tricks and traps in the game before landing on a picture of the team, sadly you can't burn it up with some wheel spins.

Driving is a simple enough affair with tracks laid out usually quite comprehensively. Though some tracks you'll learn quickly that following the main road will lead you into a dead end, thanks a bunch. While some traps trigger hammers and walls that will quickly move in the way and kill the person who triggered it with a big fat smiling face upon the wall as a delightful little "fuck you, with love" from the game designers. Lovely.

Some of the shortcuts are insanely hard and not something you'd even consider at times, such as landing on a moving boat and driving back off again to get to an area that houses a coin. The coin being the ONLY reason you'd even attempt that. Which means to get the coins you'll be playing a lot of practise mode as racing isn't an option if you're taking such detours, several coins on one track are hidden in an area you have to glitch through or drive through on your side and NOT explode, and THEN to travel around a high speed ramp and jump area to get the few silvers and one gold coin contained.

But completionists... are a funny bunch.

The game and maps are designed in such a way that racing around the cityscapes feels like a while knuckle race through madness with every slight twitch and twist being the difference between death and the next position upwards in the rankings. Though you rarely do explode from coming into contact with the walls, often scraping them and still racing on, the involvement of other hazards like Tram Cars tend to make you blow up faster than a Pinto kicked in the arse. Usually the tracks are fair to the racers and only one or two traps encroach upon the main track leaving the risky stuff to those willing to take the risks.

The music is a rather inspired but esoteric selection of tracks with a few tracks that will really pay dividend to the ambience of the race tracks and further enhance the nitro fuelled race feeling, I tend to just leave it with the track Garage and go from there. While there's one or two good tracks, the rest are too laid back or too generic to really be noticeable.

And for the hardcore, there's harder modes with wind speeds affecting the play, fog, backwards tracks and mirror tracks (with their own shortcuts too) and even more challenging, Death Mode where crashing once will take you out for the race, but this includes AI racers and once all 5 of them are down, you've a quiet ride to the end (just don't crash into any wrecks, you'll be furious at that point as the player is always last if they crash).

As an avid gamer, I like this game for the variety, the lack of common sense in the levels and the wings. Serious petrol heads would be advised to steer clear (heh...) as it lacks the tuning focus of more serious racing games while kart racers may find too much of a focus on actual racing than the jolliness of using comical weapons. It fits itself into a niche rather suitably and has a little for everyone in the game.

And Wings.

Now I'm heading off to rev an engine, shout ""Rush" with an echo then taking my 8.0 litre V10 Pick Up truck to ramp off a few jumps at around 280mph.

Then I'm going to play this game again.