L.A. Rush Review (Xbox)

I’m sure during one of the brainstorming sessions at the offices of Midway, they were kicking around some ideas for updating their Rush series. One of those ideas was undoubtedly adding a modern and urban touch to the series. I can see it now: Some marketing guy says, “The kids are watching this show on MTV called Pimp My Ride. I think we should use the guys from that show.” From that session, L.A. Rush was born. Let’s see if a good arcade racing game was born at the same time.

You play the role of Trikz, a well respected and successful street racer. Trikz has a beautiful home, many cars and plenty of women to choose from. During one of his many parties, Trikz is visited by his biggest rival, Lidel, who threatens to take everything that Trikz owns. Trikz disregards the threat, goes on vacation in the Caribbean, and when he returns, he finds that everything he owns - including his car collection - is gone. You never find out whether Trikz’s rides were stolen or repossessed, but that’s beside the point. Your goal is to win back Trikz’s cars by winning several races across the city of Los Angeles. As you can see from this background story, the game is very hip-hop driven. If you aren’t a fan of hip-hop, particularly West Coast hip-hop, you're going to hate this game from the start. Midway made a big mistake by failing to provide alternative soundtracks for gamers who aren’t rap fans. I understand that the core audience Midway is marketing to listens to hip-hop, but I’m all for giving gamers more options.

Midway did a beautiful job re-creating Los Angeles, and anyone who has spent anytime in that city will see several recognizable landmarks in this game. The city is also very large and each neighborhood has a very unique look and feel. One thing that’s missing, however, is access to a map that shows the entire city. In order to get around, you have to rely entirely on the GPS system and a pop-up that informs you of the neighborhood you just entered.

The variety of races included in L.A. Rush will keep you interested. There are several different races; including Endurance races, Stunt races and Street races. Once you start winning races, you will earn money and are able to use this money to customize your car at West Coast Customs. While it's fun to customize your ride, it’s really no different than the garage features found in other racing games.

The biggest problem I’ve found in L.A. Rush is that the cars are too responsive. One tap of the analog stick can send your car straight into traffic or into the sidewalk. The control gets slightly better once you win better cars, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between a Lotus and the lemon that you start the game with. That lack of control not only makes it difficult to drive your car and win races, but it makes you less eager to win new cars. Due to this lack of control, you're guaranteed to get into a number of accidents in each race. Whether it’s crashing into a tree or oncoming traffic, you'll get into many accidents in L.A. Rush.

The opponents' A.I. isn’t much of a challenge either. In practically every race, I would crash a number of times and still find myself with a chance to catch my opponents and potentially win. This game fails to factor in race strategy or the many accidents that occur during a race. As long as you don’t crash near the finish line, you'll always have a chance to win. Speaking of crashes, the most annoying parts of this game are the crash scenes. You can’t skip these scenes, and due to the large number of crashes, these scenes occur over and over.

Another all-but-useless aspect of this game is the presence of police cars. If a police officer catches you driving on the wrong side of the road or on the sidewalk, your wanted level will increase, and police cars will attempt to drive you off the road until you stop. The system is similar to the one found in the Grand Theft Auto series with one major exception: The cops never stop you. I have driven around Los Angeles with a wanted level of five stars (the highest possible level), and the most the cops will do is attempt to drive you off the road - and that never works. Even if you crash, your car just regenerates, the same cops continue the chase, and you are neither fined nor arrested. A fine is only assessed if you stop your car - and don’t move for about five seconds. L.A. Rush is XBOX live aware, but there's no online racing, which is a disappointment. The game does feature online scoreboards.
What I look for in a arcade racing game is fun, nothing more and nothing less. The problem with L.A. Rush is that you won't likely find a lot of fun while playing this game. If the lack of control doesn’t frustrate you enough, the simplistic AI will. Unfortunately, as a package, I can only suggest L.A. Rush for huge fans of Pimp My Ride and people who really enjoy customizing cars.

L.A. Rush Score
out of 10