Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA

Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA

Forget traditional racing games and kiss goodbye to the laws of physics, because Hush 2 has arrived!

The prequel to Rush 2, San Francisco Rush, met with a great deal of derision from many people when it first reached the N64 because of its dated graphics, sluggish controls and fairly dull-looking cars. However, those N64 gamers who actually put in a bit of effort and played the game for more than ten minutes soon realised that San Francisco Rush had one very important thing going for it - it was damn good fun!

Quite what it was about the first game that made it so enjoyable isn't easy to pin down. It was possibly a combination of the huge gravity-defying jumps, the massive amount of freedom as to where you could drive and the sheer addictiveness of tracking down and trying to collect the numerous keys scattered around each track. Rush 2 takes the positive elements of SF Rush and builds on them while at the same time eradicating many of the negative elements of the original. Er... apart from the graphics.

This books Familiar...

For despite early promises, Rush 2 is -graphically, at least - almost indistinguishable from its predecessor. You could point out the shiny new cars, polished to within an inch of their lives and so reflective that clouds are actually mirrored in the bodywork.

But shiny chrome exteriors not withstanding, not much else has changed aesthetically. The cars still look like escapees from a late Eighties coinop with wheels that from behind - which after all is where you most often view them - look like non-moving charcoal briquettes. The game also has a habit of dipping through walls, buildings and cars if you do something unexpected, which is surprising considering that you're supposed to be able to drive pretty much where you want. You'd think the game engine could handle it However, graphics were not what made the first game good, and it has to be said that they're not what counts this time around either. Oh sure, there's bound to be some reality-obsessed techies whingeing about the unrealistic physics, or the lack of proper textures on the cars, but they can spend their lives plugged into Gran Turismo on the PlayStation or salivating over the technically excellent but hard-to-get-into F-1 Grand Prix on the N64 and stay out of our way!

Mоrе Jumps Than A Soho Brothel!

If you're not fussed about physics and are looking for a crazy, non-stop intensely enjoyable racing game with the nuttiest jumps around, then cast your eyes over Rush 2.

SF Rush had seven tracks, all of which were set in fictional cities apart from the seventh secret Alcatraz track. Rush 2 offers you seven enormous courses which take you through fairly accurately re-created versions of well-known US cities, and also throws in three fictional but downright hairy tracks of its own.

Although the game has just ten tracks, all of them can be raced mirrored and/or reversed, making a total of 40 different tracks in all! Curiously, there Is also an option to odd fogging to the game, which seems unusual as the viewing distance in the game is actually very good. The question has to be why would anyone want to add fogging to an N64 game?

The answer comes when you study Circuit mode. As in the first game, you race in circuit mode on all track variations of the first seven tracks (normal, mirrored, reversed, mirrored and reversed). This means that you have a total of 28 races, and presumably someone decided that playing the same track four times would be a bit samey, so the fog was added to make things look a little different and to confound gamers even more.

Speed Demons Apply Here

The Circuit mode is - like in the last game - bloody difficult. However, it's not impossible and with some thoughtful car choices and careful adjustments it is possible to succeed without using any cheats.

Also as in the first game, the racing is only a part of the gameplay. Each track can also be played in Practice mode and also normal Race mode, where you can set the number of laps and competitors and play around with things like wind speed and fogging. Practice mode is best for exploring the cities, because when you crash the game puts you back on the road close to where you exploded, as opposed to rushing you off up the track like it does in when racing.

If you want to collect the keys then you need to be racing. You don't have to do a circuit, but you do need to be competing against other cars. The best thing to do is to put the laps up to eight so that you have plenty of time to explore.

Lime Green With Puce!

The car design facility from SF Rush has been vastly improved. Each car now has two different colours to change - a body colour and an 'accent' colour (bumpers, side stripes, etc) and you can add a number of different stripes too. It doesn't stop there though. Players can choose the hubcap designs, the engine sound, the horn and also change various attributes to make the cars faster, more controllable and more durable (essential on the stunt track).

Take a look at the basic car here, for example, along with one of an almost infinite number of variations you could create from it!

Anyone unfamiliar with the first game won't know about the keys. Basically, there are a number of golden keys hidden at various unusual or near-inaccessible points throughout each track. When you collect a certain number of them, you gain an extra car which can be used on that track. These include a taxi and a hot rod, both of which perform far better than the earlier cars.

This time around, there are more keys per track and as a rule they're more difficult to find than they were in SF Rush. Often you can see them hanging high in the air, only to find out that you need to make a jump from somewhere totally different to start a sequence of leaps which eventually bring you to the key.

Rush 2 The Shops!

Another addition from the first game are the soft drink cans (Mountain Dew, whatever that is). These are hidden throughout the game like the keys and when collected also grant you a bonus car, the dragster.

just like SF Rush, the most enjoyable part of Rush 2 is searching the various tracks to find the best jumps and locate all the secrets. However, unlike the first game, this time the racing element itself is extremely playable. Also improved is the two-player mode which ran a bit slow in the original but now contains all the speed and enjoyment of the one-player game and also includes a 'tag' game. Shame it doesn't support four players really...

At the end of the day. Rush 2 is an incredibly enjoyable game with elements that should keep you going back to it for a long time to come. If you're into technical excellence and top graphics then look somewhere else, but if you're after one of the most enjoyable racing games currently available, then take this for a spin!

2nd rating opinion

Although Rush 2 is better than the first game in terms of car handling, the exploration aspect doesn't seem to be done as well. Some tracks hardly have any hidden ramps or jumps! Rush 2 is enjoyable for a while, but lacks surprises.

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Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA Downloads

Nintendo 64 Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA download

Hurry Hurry

Rush 2 is based in part on the arcade version, Rush The Rock, and features 12 tracks, including New York, Hawaii, and Alcatraz, complete with hair-raising corkscrew section. The handling has been improved to match the more exciting courses, so it's now possible to make much sharper handbrake turns than in SFR. The balance of the game has been tilted more towards pure racing, but the low gravity and strange physics model remain, making two-wheel driving and 20-storey jumps a regular occurrence.

To take full advantage of the ability to flip the cars over at will. Rush 2 includes a surreal stunt track packed with ramps, jumps, and obstacles. Points are awarded for style and difficulty, with bonuses for hitting the rings and targets dotted around the course. Wave Race on wheels, anyone?

With 16 standard cars, ranging from family estates to customised hot rods, an additional five secret vehicles to find, the golden keys from SFR, plus the option to customise the cars, tracks, weather, conditions and game style, Rush 2 looks like it'll keep arcade racing fans happy for quite a while. And those of you who recall the original game's "soundtrack" will be delighted to hear that the music has been given a good old-fashioned remix. Ahem.

reggie posted a review

One of the best racing games for the N64 has just gotten better. Now I know that this is not saying much since the majority of racing games on the N64 have been average at best. Rush 2 Extreme Racing finally breaks out of the average label and actually makes its way into the not too bad category. If you are looking for realistic racing, you may as well stop reading now because this game is anything but realistic.

Rush 2 moves out of San Francisco and ventures out to see the rest of the world. There are 11 shortcut filled tracks and a ton of cars available for your racing mayhem. Everything you know about cars, physics and racing can be thrown out the window because these tracks might as well be on the moon. You will et the opportunity to rip through the streets of some of the major cities in the US and it just so happens that I am lucky enough to live in one these cities so I can actually vouch for the realism or lack of in at least one of the cities. It is time to strap on your flying gear and Rush.

Gameplay

I am almost tempted to call this game a flying sim more than a driving sim. Wait a second. Retract that last statement. There is actually nothing sim about this game at all. It is 100 percent pure arcade racing. There are minor things that may be considered sim elements, which I will discuss later but make no mistake about it, this game is not sim. If you go in looking for a driving sim, you will not make it to the first checkpoint in the first race before ripping the game out and smashing it to thousands of pieces.

While playing this game, I found that there are really three big draws to it. The first of these draws is the cities that the races are in. You can race in Alcatraz, Hawaii, Hollywood, Las Vegas, New York Uptown, New York Downtown and in my home city, Seattle. Now I can't vouch for the rest of the locations but I will say that they did an admirable job on recreating Seattle. Is it perfect? No, but it does give a good enough representation for someone who has never been here and just wants to rip through town at 150 MPH. I assume the other tracks are the same. There is just something that is really cool about playing a game and seeing landmarks from your city. I don't really know why that is. Now that I think about it, it is the same thing with TV and movies. People always get excited to see the city they live in (Hollywood excluded) on TV or in the movies. Sorry, I guess I am straying from the review at hand.

The second big draw to this game has to be the available vehicles. This game does not have the licensing rights to actual cars but you would have to be pretty dense not to see that they are real cars that just are not referenced by the real name. The Viper is obviously a Viper. The Mustang is obviously a Mustang. The old Corvette is obviously an old Corvette. The point is that it will be very obvious what the cars are. Now, I figured since the cars were blatant replicas of real vehicles, they would give the names that were close to the real names but not quite the same. You know, they could have called the Camaro the Samaro or something. I guess that would have been a little too close to for the lawyers liking.

The one are that this game can almost be considered a sim is when it comes to setting these vehicles up. You can leave them as the default set up or you get your hands dirty and start some customization. You can change everything from the color of your paint to the color of your racing strip to your tires to the engine you want to use. I thought that it was really strange that you could put different engines in your car. This was cool but it didn't really fit this game. This is something that most die-hard sims don't even let you change. It was nice to have the option to do so but I always felt like I was screwing things up rather than making them better.

The third thing that this game has going for it is the over the top gameplay. Like I said above, this game is almost more like a flying game than a driving game. You will spend more time in the air flying over jumps than you will on the road. Is this bad? No, it was actually kind of fun. It does take some getting used to though. The game does not try to pretend to be anything but an outrageous and exaggerated attempt at racing so if you keep this in mind, you will be in better shape.

Aside from the massive jumps, this game has a few other things that give it a feeling of exaggeration. For one, each track has a bunch of multiple paths. I quickly learned that not all branches are the fastest. Usually in racing games, taking an obscure branch in a road would almost always be a short cut and net you some extra time. That was not always the case. It seemed like more often than not, the branches were about the same as the obvious path. One thing that I did not like about some of these branches is that it was difficult to tell if they were taking you the correct direction or not. For example, in the downtown areas, everything is broken out into blocks. Most of the blocks have 90-degree turns. Sometimes I would try to take a different road only to find out that I was going the wrong way. There was no way of know until it told you. I guess this was just part of the challenge but what it did to me was keep me from trying new paths.

The game also has one thing that is a little different from other games. Scattered across the cities were Mountain Dew cans and keys. I really should not scattered across because they are really not scattered. More like hidden. You really have to search hi and low for them. If you collect enough keys, you will unlock a bonus car. The MD cans give your current vehicle a jolt. For the most part, these things were located in obscure places so they were difficult to find. I would usually stumble across one every now and then but I really did not go out of my way to find them.

Graphics

This game has a fog setting. Can somebody please tell me why anyone would intentionally add fog to a N64 game? IT DOES NOT NEED ANY HELP! After saying this, you should have a pretty good idea of my feelings toward fog in games. Even when you crank the fog all the way down, it still has a bit of fog in the distance. it is not too terrible but it is there. Aside from the fog, the graphics are pretty good. There was nothing that was overly impressive but they were pretty standard N64 graphics. The cars did look cool and you could always tell what kind of car you were next to or you were in.

Bottom Line

This game was not too bad. The more I played it, the more I enjoyed it. At first, I really did not like the multiple paths because I always felt that I was missing out on some great short cut. After I played a bit more, I came to realize that the branching paths may be good or may be bad. If you are a fan of arcade racers that have very little resemblance to real racing, you would like this game. If you are a fan of the NASCAR racing games, run far, far away.

reggie posted a review
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