L.A. Rush

By on October 24, 2005

A game that’s way too rushed.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

My earliest memories of racing games was “Pole Position” in the arcades. Back in the day, grainy 16-colour pixilated graphics didn’t bother anyone, as there was no other game like it on the market. Fast-forward to present day, and it seems that Midway has used Pole Position as their muse when developing L.A Rush for the PSP, as the game lacks anything that would make it enjoyable to play for more than half an hour.

Where most games would at least have some decent balance between the cruxes of any game – the story, gameplay, visuals, and playability, L.A Rush seems to dart around everywhere, and ends up disappointing in all areas. The game starts off by panning through a sea of bikini-clad women at some wannabe’s pool party at his estate, and then loosely introduces the actual story – you’re a street-wise racer who’s been conned out of all his fabulous cars, and of course he’s on a mission to get them all back. Which would be perfectly fine, except he drags you along for the ride. So you pretty much have your work cut out for you – drive around the streets of L.A, win races, collect enough cash, and get your cars back. AS delightful as this may sound, none of it actually translates to decent gameplay. The cutscenes that play during the game try to tie up the story a bit, but they’re a total waste of time, and look like scenes from a 50 cent video that got binned.

Story aside for the moment, the game does give you a relative amount of freedom on the streets. Cruise around the block and you’ll come across hot spots for races and other challenges presented by rival drivers. When not in free-roam mode, the races do deliver a few nanoseconds of fun. In addition to the traditional X laps around the city, you can also drive through checkpoint-type races, which means you have to drive through about 8 lit up checkpoints before you are declared the winner. The real beauty about this kind of race is that rather than restricting your driving to a confined track, the free-roam ability lives on during the checkpoint races, so you can quickly nip into an alley or side street to get to the next checkpoint, and shave valuable seconds on your time.

Though the sense of speed is present, the fun soon wears off, as you discover that you’re driving a car that’s similar to an armored truck. You can crash into traffic, trees, lamps, and fences, and still not suffer much of a time penalty. Your car on the other hand will proudly wear several  dents and bruises as you tear along, coming to the point where it almost looks like your car is going to fall apart. But no matter how much punishment you put your car through, it still handles flawlessly, so the damage element here is purely visual. To make matters worse, your AI opponents seems to be driving cars made of lead, as no amount of crashing or shoving their cars to the side will slow them down, thus making the driving experience even more frustrating. All this makes the racing experience seem unfinished, and will certainly not keep racing enthusiasts entertained for long.

Should you tire of the single-player story and racing modes, the game does include a rather bizarre ‘Stunt Arena’, which lets you drive your car around an arena, driving off ramps and vaulting off the ceiling. The stunts are a breeze to pull off – just vault off a ramp and use the analog stick to turn and twist your car around to rack up points. Get enough points within the time limit, and you’re rewarded with an unlocked car. But even this mode lacks any real purpose…there aren’t any special stunts that you can pull off besides boring flips, 360s, and air turns. If this mode was replaced with a Carmageddon type experience, then maybe it would have been more worthwhile.

The game does a mixed job in the graphics department – despite the frenzy of the action on screen during races, there wasn’t any noticeable lags in the framerate, and the racing environments are designed as best as possible for the PSP. The cars themselves are a bit of a let down, as they’re mostly flood-filled with one color, with some swanky reflection effects slapped on. The audio is an absolute snore, with the same hip-hop tracks loops over and over as you race around.

L.A Rush could have been a good game, if more time was put into the actual physics of the racing. There’s nothing ground-breaking in this game, and there are plenty of decent racing games out there for the PSP. It’s a shame that such little effort was put into polishing the product off, as there is a fair chance that it could have been a decent racing game.

The Scorecard
Poor storyline and unrealistic racing won’t keep you playing for long.
An eye-sore to look at if you’ve played some of the better looking PSP racing games.
Irritating hip-hop music looping in the background will once again make you thankful for the mute button.
There are far better racing games out there that offer better bang for your buck.
The Stunt Arena offers a mild distraction from the crippling racing.
L.A Rush just isn’t a game you’d want to play unless you’ve just come out of a time capsule and have never played a racing game on the PSP.


A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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