LA Rush review

Does Midway's new street-racing beast have enough torque to upstage its rivals, asks PSM2

Do you remember Juiced? The mod-heavy racing game which THQ salvaged from the wreckage of Acclaim's spectacular financial crash? You do? Brilliant. Then you'll remember that the customisation options were almost unparalleled - the choice of paint jobs, alloys and carbon-fibre wings you could bolt on to your motor was really something.

But under the pearlescent exteriors lay a game that was about as joyous to handle as scalding faeces. After so much cosmetic promise Juiced fell flat on its spoiler because it couldn't provide the handling to match the thousands of modding options.

After reviewing it twice (a PSM2 record) we despaired at the lack of competition to go up against the awesome Need for Speed Underground 2 and Midnight Club 3. We wanted more. Then we caught sight of a shiny new title pulling out of Midway's gaming garage - LA Rush.

And what's this? Not only have they recreated the whole of Los Angeles for you to drive round at your leisure, they've also signed up serial 'whip' modders, West Coast Customs. Yep that's right, the stars from the show, US Pimp My Ride. Sweet.

With these guys riding shotgun to Midway's Rush series, nothing can stop them from leaving NFSU2 in its smoke-filled wake. Right? Right? Oh. Crap.

You see, things start off well with LA Rush. We love ripping up the sands of Venice beach before nitro blasting through the lush surroundings of Santa Monica Boulevard. We're also quite partial to weaving through the car strewn highways at top speed before crashing through the Hollywood sign in super-slow motion.

But for all the open-ended freedom, amazing draw distances and hundreds of vehicles, Midway's street racer suffers a similar fate to the aforementioned Juiced - it doesn't strike the balance between content and action.

It's a little different, though - the handling is superior to the likes of Juiced and even NFSU2, but unlike those games, when it comes to modifying, the garage is bare.

So how's this happened? After all, West Coast Customs are on hand to supply all your modifying thrills. But in reality - much like in their MTV series - as soon as you roll your vehicle into one of their garages, they'll kit it out with what they feel like, leaving you to twiddle your thumbs and pray it doesn't come out salmon pink.

Hell, there isn't even a cutscene showing the fellas at work on your motor. All you get is a 10-second sequence of your car going in and out while some bloke explains what they've done. And, yep, it's frikkin' salmon pink. Damn it.

Come on, Midway, even ChoroQ let you mod cars yourself and that was so sugary it could have been made by Tate and Lyle.

So with a wasted opportunity firmly putting the brakes on LA Rush's modding options, the game has to rely solely on its street racing crux to provide the entertainment. Thankfully it delivers it by the bootload.

With the emphasis firmly on free-roaming gameplay, LA Rush encourages you to discover multiple routes to beat your opponent across the finish line.

More Info

PlatformXbox, PS2