Although Rush includes a couple fun missions and several exciting multiplayer and single-player modes, it centers around a fairly straightforward story-based street racing game that feels a hell of a lot like Grand Theft Auto without the out-of-car action or pedestrians.
In the main story mode, you freely cruise throughout five well represented LA-area cityscapes, taking on optional side races, completing a few story-based missions, unlocking additional vehicles, getting some so-called improvements and earning cash by winning street races all while diggin' some good tunes and trying to keep those pesky cop stars dim.
The story is completely unnecessary to the game's enjoyment, often feeling like a big, lame advert for real world ride-pimpers West Coast Customs. Even when you do stop at WCC in the game, the single, pre-determined chop job available for most of the vehicles adds little more than a new color, a couple shiny decorative parts and slightly looser steering.
As for the series' signature jumping, aside from only a couple of the missions there is little reason to seek out the city's few ramps while racing. Instead, we got in plenty of groovy air time in the Stunt Arena mode, launching off giant ramps while twisting flips and landing on all fours with Tony Hawk style finesse.
We also enjoyed the new and highly addictive Cruise races, which have you careening non-stop through crowded streets at a minimum speed, weaving to avoiding accidents and slow-downs while trying to safely get through waypoints. Also much funner, uh, we mean, more fun than simple street racing is the Battle Arena multiplayer mode, which includes explosive weapons.
Regardless of the mode, each of 55 officially licensed and Midway created vehicles looks great and moves well while dodging traffic, drifting around corners (even sliding under some semi trailers) and kicking in the occasional nitro boost. We especially love zipping around in Midway's Batmobile-esque concept cars and crushing traffic with the H2 Hummer.
We don't quite understand why rear bumpers get dented after front-end collisions but appreciate the complimentary repairs to the cosmetic damages.
The environments look pretty good and most elements are pleasingly destructible. All the trees have unexplainable magic anti-vehicle repellant that makes them impossible to even hit - yet, metal light posts, concrete stairs and even an entire Ferris wheel snap like toothpicks. Maybe trees simply grow uber-strong in the L.A. smog.
L.A. cops might be tough, but we didn't realize they can even issue fines while your vehicle is still moving. Again, must be something in the air. We do appreciate that all police vehicles are highlighted on the HUD's mini map and that user-selected destinations come with dynamically marked routes, both features that save a bit of time and hassle.
The vehicles aren't nearly as customizable as in Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition or as destructive as in Twisted Metal: Head-On, but, thanks mostly to the multiplayer and extra single-player modes, Rush provides several days of enjoyable arcade style racing. Just click through boring story elements to get right to the missions and unlock as many cars and courses as quickly as you can to use in the other, more exciting, modes.