LA Rush

Going forward - fast - sometimes requires a little reverse. At least, that's what Midway are banking on with in-production customisable street racer (heard that before somewhere?), LA Rush.

It's been a while since we've seen any Rush titles, the classic arcade racers set in places as diverse as San Francisco and The Future. In fact, it's been so long that they'll turn up soon on a new Midway Arcade Treasures compilation. Really.

But if you're going to jump into an already saturated genre why not pin it on a fondly (if slightly dimly) remembered franchise? According to the boffins at Midway though, there's more than lip-service being paid to the title's history - and a good thing too.

In a similar vein to Outrun 2 the overarching philosophy is to catch the old-school arcade feel of driving without particularly caring about the consequences.

Expect huge power-slides, plenty of jumps and shed-loads of handbrake turns. You'll have to provide the smell of candyfloss for yourselves, though.

Beyond this, LA Rush is a melting pot of the driving genre's ideas. Five areas of Los Angeles have been laid open for you to free-roam: Hollywood, Santa Monica, Southbay, South Central and Downtown.

Each will feature distinctive landmarks so you can expect to burn it down the Santa Monica Pier and (as we saw to great satisfaction and an unashamed whoop or two), jump through the Hollywood sign with reassuringly destructible results.

In fact, over 350 miles of road contribute to around 50 specific tracks for you to burn up. Saves you a plane ticket.

There is the free-roaming option of course, but the main crux centres upon a Campaign mode where races comprise around 70% of the action.

The remaining action is a series of missions and challenges relating to the game's story (think Wacky Races 'N Da Hood), such as stealing missions or trashing rival hoods' property.

Aiming for a 'GTA but without getting out of the car and beating up whores with a baseball bat' structure, you play the hottest street racer in LA when your arch-nemesis steals all of your phat rides.

Through racing and completing missions you steal them back, and unlock tracks and points to upgrade your fine-ass motors.

Promised are 36 licensed cars (although manufacturers are yet to be confirmed) and a number of uniquely designed concept cars, really dreamed up by bona fide car designers.

As is becoming standard, you'll be able to pimp your ride with licensed aftermarket parts from the likes of ProCharger, Yokohama and Mopar whilst you chill to the hottest 'joints' from Tista and Lil' Kim. Sweetness.

So it's Project Gotham meets GTA meets Outrun 2 meets NFS Underground 2 meets Burnout 3 with a drop of pretty much every other driving game since time began. The pulse quickened when we saw the Ferrari hammering down Santa Monica beachfront - whether the rest of the game can live up to the premise remains to be seen.

LA Rush is out for Xbox and PS2 this autumn