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OnRush is Letting Me Relive my Glory Days as a Racer

Codemasters' unconventional racer is fresh, fast, and unexpectedly resonant.

Danielle Riendeau

All images courtesy Codemasters

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OnRush is a fast-paced, colorful racing game that looks and sounds like other arcade racers: pretty graphics, high-energy music, a penchant for wild speed. But it’s structured much more like Splatoon, with two teams competing for points rather than the fastest times around the course.

In the game, you are assigned a team—orange or blue—and you get points for doing things like completing tricks, or taking out other cars, or lending support to your teammates. Different cars come with different goals. The other team has all the same opportunities, and you drive together in a big, fast, furious pack, all with your own individual barometers for success. If you crash, the game just warps you back to the throng and you get right back to your goals.

It’s the only game I’ve played that hinted at what it’s like to run a cross country (XC) race—everyone is together, and moving fast towards a goal. But everyone is also running their own race, with their own pace and strategy. I ran XC competitively in high school and college, so I’m keenly aware of the bizarro team/individual dynamic here. There are always multiple runners from each team on the field, and you do actually score points (not for doing tricks, sadly, that one is all placement in XC).

And unlike most events in track, XC routes can be wild, unpredictable obstacle courses. There are hills, rocks, sometimes streams to cross. Roots to trip on. The more technical the course, the trickier and hardier you need to be as a runner.

In the exaggerated world of OnRush, of course, that’s turned up to 11: There are planks to barrel roll off of, trees to slam into (or better, to slam opponents into), ditches to plummet into. But the basic idea is similar, and satisfying, the way running with a pack of well-trained racers always is.

How about you, readers? Is there a game that evoked a real-life activity that you love, in an unexpected way? Sound off on the forums!