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L.A. Rush (PlayStation 2) artwork

L.A. Rush (PlayStation 2) review

"When I’m speeding through Los Angeles and I look behind to see twenty cops cars in hot pursuit, I half-expect a jazz band to start playing."

Blues Brothers is one of the best movies in the world, no question. Between the spontaneous dance numbers and the frequent explosions and Ray Charles, you’ve got just about the most all-around entertaining movie ever made, awesome on every level.

But you know what really made it? The chase scenes.

Jake and Elwood Blues are cruising at 100+ MPH, with half the NYPD on their tales. Pedestrians are leaping out of the way. The SWAT teams are being called in. You can hear the wailing sirens from miles away, and that chorus only ends when the sound of crashing cars takes over. Doesn’t matter how many cops there are, doesn’t matter how fast they go, by the time the movies over they’re all scrapped.

When I’m speeding through Los Angeles and I look behind to see twenty cops cars in hot pursuit, I half-expect a jazz band to start playing.

Moments like that come often, and I welcome every one of them; pissing off the LAPD is all too easy. You can hardly turn a corner without running into the popo (translation: the police), and if they see you speeding or driving on the sidewalk or, heaven forbid, crashing into other cars, they’ll give chase. Dusting one off’s not too hard, but chances are you’ll run into another cop before you’re clear…and then you’ll run into another one…and another one…until there are some many cops with so many sirens that you can’t even hear L.A. Rush’s rap soundtrack.

For some, that might be a blessing.

L.A. Rush doesn’t hide its demographic; there’s no doubt it’s aimed at the hip-hop, ruff-rider, I-got-my-ride-pimped-by-a-has-been-rapper-on-MTV crowd. The music comes courtesy of Twista (aka the World’s Fastest Rapper), J-Kwan (a one-hit wonder whose one hit is in the game) and a handful of other guys that I’ve never heard of and you’ve no reason to care about. Even the story mode plays out like another Fast and Furious sequel; your cars got stolen, so now you’re on a quest to get them back, get respect, and get revenge on the low-life jackass that took them in the first place.

If Carson Daily did the race announcing, that would be the last straw.

Don’t let a little new-age scare you off; the Rush series hasn’t gone the way of Tony Hawk…not completely. Underneath all the baggy clothes and the iced out grills and the chrome spinners, this is the same Rush that rocked arcades for a decade over.

You’ve just got to look harder, that’s all. To be specific, you’ve got to scour all over L.A., free-roaming the streets, using the GPS to home in on the street races with the biggest bank. There’s no set courses here; every race takes you through a different route of Los Angeles, forcing you to weave in and out of traffics, avoiding collisions by feet, sometimes inches, struggling to stay in the lead while three other cars knock you about. You crash and the game slows down, forcing you to watch your demise at ¼ speed. Get busted and the cops pull you over, costing you a ticket and the race.

But stuff like that you can get from any racing game these days; the world’s got plenty of Burnouts and Need for Speeds to go around. So what lets L.A. Rush pull away from the pack?

Answer’s simple: This is RUSH.

The Evil Kineval styled jumps are still intact; at any given moment, you’re car is prone to fly. You see a ramp coming up, you ignite the nitro at the right moment, and your whip (translation: car) goes soaring, flying over buildings, over bridges, over the competition, giving you the lead by a longshot…assuming you don’t crash two seconds after you land, of course.

Shortcuts? We’ve got shortcuts. There’s always some back alley for you to turn into, some hidden tunnel that gets you from point A to point B in grand style. We go around the mall when you can go through it? A little glass on the window never hurt nobody.

You’ve got to exercise some caution, though; this is a real-world setting where real-world rules apply; not everything looks like what it is. You could turn into what you thought was a sidestreet, only to find yourself running head on into somebody’s house, having to back out while you drop from first place to second place to third place to…heaven forbid…fourth. And since you don’t get any money for finishing last, and you need money to enter more races and get more money and get more cars, failure’s an option only so many times.

So there’s some high stakes to work with. So if you lose too many races, you’ll wind up in a rut. So the game doesn’t pacify you. Deal.

That’s just the way L.A. Rush is. You’ve got to put up with the stuff you hate to enjoy the stuff you love.

lasthero's avatar
Staff review by Zack Little (December 30, 2005)

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