When I think of Rush Hour, scenes of congested traffic and irate motorists pop into my sometimes functioning mind. I think gridlock, blaring horns, and the occasional curse and threats. Psygnosis' Rush Hour embodies this idea of slow moving traffic. If you want an example of what is not a high quality racing game, then look no further. I love to play video games, but after twenty minutes of slogging through the courses, I was ready to give up.
The basic story of Rush Hour is that you are a race junky weaned on arcade racing and motivated by the death of your racing buddy to go out and push the envelope and race in the streets. The player gets to choose from two classes with four cars in each class. In addition, there are hidden cars that you can drive. In the High Performance class, there is the Europa Tourer (a cross between a Honda Civic and a Volvo), Yellow Thunder (a wannabe Toyota Supra), Red Flash (a poor imitation of a Ferrari), and Silver Bullet (a Porsche). In the Heavy Metal Class, there is Ranger (a Jeep Eagle Cherokee), Dune Buggy (a dune buggy), Jeepster (a Jeep), and Dallas Pick-Up (a Dodge Tacoma?). There are also eight hidden cars, four in each class, but you'll never play the game long enough to get them.
I was going to say that the gameplay in Rush Hour mediocre at best, but it's worse than that. First of all, the racing view is too small. You can zoom the camera view in and out, but the two basic options are minute and microscopic. If you have ever played that arcade classic Spy Hunter, then you will recognize the overhead view that this game offers. At least with Spy hunter, you got a chance to shoot at the other cars. Oh sure you get to see the race from the point of view of any car in front of you or behind you or even from the track side camera, but the most important view, the one from your car, sucks. You don't get a cockpit view or even a rooftop view. Why not?
The graphics are good, with nice polygons, gouraud shading and light sourcing, but all the things on the screen are too tiny for anyone to appreciate the aesthetic value. The sound is not spectacular. There are no mind shattering soundtracks to drive to. The handling isn't all that great either. This is the result of the view being too small. The car reacts slowly, if at all. Sometimes it seems as if some unseen force is driving your car. More often then not, I found my self slamming from the left barrier to the right barrier in search of the road. The directional arrows that flash on and off to tell you what sort of turn is coming up do little to resolve the confusion. You can a make a wrong turn and end in a blind alley or dead end, just like in real life Rush Hour.
Rush Hour has some options that I guess are supposed to take your mind off the fact that the game is lame. On the Options Screen, you can set your screen to normal, wide screen, or high resolution. But unless you happen to have have a hi-res RGB monitor or a 16:9 television, the normal setting is the only useful one. In high resolution, the play screen shrunk; everything got smaller (as if that could be possible) and the cars just about disappeared. In the wide screen mode, the play screen flattened into a weird letterbox style. Of course in this mode, everything gets warped so that no matter what car you choose, it looks like you are driving a stretch limo.
The only reason why this game doesn't get an 'F' is its one redeeming quality, the fantastic tracks. This game has some really superb tracks. The 'Downtown' track is hard to navigate, but if the views were better, this would be a rad track to race on. The tracks have the potential to make this game enjoyable and not a chore. The driving is weak, the graphics and sound are average, and everything is too small. Don't make me play it again, please?