Another reason to avoid BART.
Anyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area knows just how bad a traffic jam can get. Both the morning and evening rush hours are nightmares, as freeways are magically transformed into gigantic parking lots. Every now and then, I like to step out my car, dive off the bridge, and take a nice leisurely swim in our wonderful sludge-colored bay before returning three hours later as traffic begins to move.
Almost fifty years into the future, though, San Francisco's city streets will be nothing like this. They'll be empty, fast, and have all kinds of crazy drivers. Reminds me of the carpool lanes today. The best part is that all the cars will have wings. Yeah, wings baby. No more of this gridlock nonsense.
Welcome to the future of the City by the Bay as seen by Midway and their new racer, San Francisco Rush 2049.
The Rush series has had mixed success on the consoles. For the most part, none have captured the speed and excitement of the respective arcade version. Until now, that is. This is hands-down the best Rush game for any home system yet, and even gives the arcade version a run for its money.
SF Rush 2049 is a fast-paced flight through a futuristic San Francisco in futuristic racecars. And when I say flight, I mean flight. Each car barrels down the course in a blazing flash of light and burnt rubber. It's so fast that the road vanishes in the blink of an eye beneath your tires.
The game is packed with a plethora of racing goodness. Single race, Ghost race, Circuit, Stunt, Battle, and other modes are all included. Most of your time will be spent in the Circuit mode, unlocking new car parts and collecting the coins scattered throughout the track. The Stunt mode is a great addition, where players get to run their cars through a stadium complete with killer ramps for awesome air. And if you're looking for some other multi-player craziness, Battle mode outfits each car with weapons and throws up to four people into a deathmatch style arena. This is road rage at its best.
Don't stop now boys and girls, because this game just keeps on giving. Stick through the stunt mode and you'll eventually unlock an awesome obstacle course that will challenge your driving skills to the max. Spiked balls, moving walls, and lava pits will block your path as you attempt to make it through one insane gauntlet.
Rush 2049 truly shines in its track design. You can really go places. Unlike other games that limit you on a fixed track, Rush 2049 lets wander off course to search for quicker routes. You may even discover a shortcut or two... or three... or more. In fact, the sheer number of shortcuts ups the replay value tremendously. These new paths will often take you through a totally different part of the track, complete with an awesome new view of the city. Often challenging and never dull, these shortcuts will have you performing amazing jumps, driving through a futuristic BART system, and even soaring between windmill blades.
In addition to the basic shortcuts, there are "unlockable shortcuts" and "traps" hidden throughout the track. Every once in a while you will come across a glowing switch. Sometimes this switch opens up a portal or ramp that leads to a shortcut you never knew existed before. Other switches trigger beneficial traps, like a giant hammer to clobber cars ahead of you.
The speed isn't the only thing that will send you into orbit, though. Every car comes complete with a fresh set of wings that can be used to glide after catching some serious air on any of the game's many incredible jumps.
Jumps there are and jump you will, since some of the game's most spectacular moments begin as soon as you hit that ramp. Trust me, you haven't lived until you've heard Ben's rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly" as he soars through the air while performing some of the most insane aerial maneuvers never known to mankind. The entertainment value of the wild jumps alone is almost worth the price of admission. There's nothing like pulling off some incredible stunt with a room full of people cheering you on. You'll be humming the theme to "The Greatest American Hero" in no time.
If you love customizing your cars, you won't be disappointed. Each and every car in Rush 2049 is fully customizable. Engine, chassis, tires, and more can all be tuned to your little racing heart's delight. As you complete circuit races and pick up coins, even more parts will become available, from all-terrain tires to a light alloy frame. The tracks also have options. Set a wind and fog factor to change the feel of the track or just run the whole thing backward! They swing both ways.
Graphics are really the only area of the game that isn't stellar. Immense buildings and other structures line the tracks, making for some good ol' futuristic San Francisco scenery, but some of the textures aren't as smooth as we've seen in other Dreamcast racing titles and some of the little things (trees and streetlights for example) are just pixels. Not great eye candy, but not bad either. There are also some clipping errors allowing you to pass right through trees and streetlights, but in an arcade game like Rush 2049, this is a good thing.
The sound is also a bit weak, as the in-game music fails to inspire you to drive. But this isn't a big deal...just put on the soundtrack to WipeoutXL and off you go.
Rush 2049 is truly a top-notch racing game whose twists and turns will provide hours of futuristic racing pleasure. It's really important to realize that all the goodies take time to discover, so stick with it! With more shortcuts and goodies than you can shake a futuristic stick at, this game's got what it takes to leave the competition in the dust.