Every once in a while an arcade or sports game comes along that reminds you how truly special gaming is and recaptures that sense of childlike wonder. Just knowing that in no uncertain terms what you’re doing is impossible anywhere else, but most of all fun. The unique and arcade racer that is Onrush happens to be that current title. It’s an unbelievable, adrenaline-fueled, fun ride. You have no patience you say to read a few paragraphs and want to know right now what I mean? How about a racing game that is still fun even though being in first place is often disadvantageous? Yea, that got your attention didn’t it?
Onrush is both a classic and innovative, arcade racer. There’s no specific plot with only a handful of cutscenes detailing the fictional sport’s rise to power and popularity. Singleplayer will be pretty standard for the most part if you’ve ever played a racing game in your life. There’s a set of events with sub-challenges for each map you play on and earning more XP will unlock more event types and maps. Believe me I’ll get into why the gameplay makes this a blast that never lets go, but completing challenges on each map will also earn you cosmetic items. Plus, you’ll get Onrush’s in-game currency where you can buy other items you’ve at least unlocked through playing.
Without a doubt this title’s bread and butter is the gameplay. It takes, at the same time, the racing genre and flips it on its head yet improves on the visceral nature of arcade racing before it. The similarities with other games ends at a group of drivers racing forward on a track who may or may not try to wreck each other. Beyond that Onrush does things with the racing genre that I had no idea could be done. Game modes are so entertaining you’ll wonder why no one else thought about implementing them in a racing title. You know what Modern Warfare did for first person shooters? I believe Onrush has done that for its genre of cars driving in a forward direction.
There’s no first one to cross the finish line wins in Onrush. Traditional racing as you know it does not exist here and the game even relishes that fact in cutscenes. What you have to look forward to are four modes across a dozen amazing maps. Overdrive is literally all about speed where your goal is to fill up your boost and rush meter, utilizing them for points, and be the first to reach an amount of points to win rounds and eventually the match. I know a boost meter is pretty self-explanatory (that you can fill up by getting air, taking other drivers out, etc.), but the rush meter will fill up through a variety of factors. Once you do that then you can activate your chosen car’s special ability. More on that later. Countdown is a game mode about driving through gates that make themselves visible with long green lines that shoot up into the sky. The more you team successfully drives past these gates, the more time that will be added to a timer that slowly trickles down. First team to run out of time loses.
Lockdown puts a specifically marked, moving zone on the map. Drivers have to reach this zone and stay there. Once a team has a majority for five seconds they’ll earn a point. Obviously, most points will win. So kind of like a moving king of the hill. Last but not least, and my personal favorite, is Switch. Think of this mode like Gun Game or Gun Master. Players will start off with the lightest of vehicles and as they are taken out progress all the way to the heaviest. Once you use all of your “switches” then you no longer contribute to your team’s survival bar and you have to take down as many opponents left before that bar reaches zero.
You’ll compete in these modes with eight different vehicles and four “classes” The latter just meaning motorcycles, cars, buggies, and Hummers essentially. Each one will handle differently in regards to abilities and passive traits. For example, my favorite motorcycle is the Outlaw. It has a special slam that can hurt vehicles who dared land near it after a jump. Then that rush ability I mentioned earlier drains other players’ boost who are in range. Whereas my favorite buggy has magnetism landings, which increase aerial takedowns, and produces a larger rush effect for more power destroying your enemies. Rest assured every single vehicle brings something to any given race and you may even change cars mid-game in order to accommodate enemy playstyles. Cat and mouse games can be oh so fun here.
Most importantly though is the core gameplay to Onrush. It’s frenetic, adrenaline packed, fast paced, and every other similar descriptor like those I could find in a thesaurus. You feel in the moment of every tire rotation as you race forward to accomplish an objective while navigating around opponents who won’t hesitate to literally send you head over heels. Or tires over axles? All of this is enhanced thanks to weather effects, destroyable property, great map design, and one of the best racing soundtracks of all time. I’ve literally forced myself to stop playing so I wouldn’t get exhausted at the idea of going to a party later in the day. What’s more is it’s rare you’ll fall behind the action because Onrush has fodder cars. These grey, insignificant specks are only there for you to crash, earn boost, and use it to catch up. Still it will come nowhere near the level of satisfaction of taking out another racer in the game’s brutal fashion.
Believe it or not I was actually able to hop on over to multiplayer during this review period. The devs did a nice job setting up dedicated play times and I’m glad they did. The only real difference from the offline version is higher point totals to reach for victory, but the visceral, hot-blooded action carries over extremely well. The meta becomes more tactical in nature as different strategies are used and required to achieve a win. I even formed a rivalry with another driver where we literally sought each other out to deal metal, vigilante justice for our respective teams. This experience only supported what I already knew: Onrush is easily one of my favorite racers of all time and is honestly fighting for THE best. Other than that there is a custom game mode and a ranked one coming soon. So I have no idea how that will be handled.
This awesomeness does have two, and only two, shortcomings in my eyes. At moments when making sharp turns, or just regular turns, the vehicles might not perform that action as tight as you want. It will feel like for that one moment you’re handling a tug boat. Kind of like the game was assisting you by turning the wheel for you and refusing to let go. The other issue is even rarer. There were two times where I was on an objective and the game reset me back to a position which is what happens when you really fall behind the pack. Naturally, with everything I’ve said, these two problems are in no way close to deal breakers. There’s nothing else I need to add except that I hope Onrush’s in-game, cosmetic loot boxes suddenly don’t become paid loot boxes down the line.
Onrush PS4 Review
Onrush is one of those games that reinvents the wheel, successfully and entertainingly so. You'll come to realize that a racer could be so much fun yet so different in content. I have a feeling Codemasters wanted to try something brand new and I can say they undeniably succeeded. The intense gameplay and truly unique game modes make this an experience worth trying. After all, how many racing games can you say have MOBA-like abilities for their vehicles? If you’re even a small fan of the genre this game should be on your PS4 until the next generation arrives.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using base PS4.