Remember WipeOut? The one on the PlayStation? Seriously, it was amazing. When the history books are written (not the jumping on the bandwagon, wow-weren’t-games-cool ones, but the actual textbooks about video games) WipeOut will have a deserved place on the pantheon of The Ones That Mattered. A beautiful combination of excellent racing with futuristic graphics that were leagues ahead of anything else that was out there – plus a smattering of style thanks to the input of Designer’s Republic helped too – WipeOut was THE game that made playing cool. It moved out of the bedroom and was now in the clubs… it became acceptable for grown ups to have a console under the television.
The idea of futuristic vehicles challenging each other for the glory of victory wasn’t new, but WipeOut did it so well. The same can be seen in the world of board gaming – I remember my dad buying me a copy of Games Workshop’s Dark Future when I was young. While admittedly it focused a bit more on the combat aspect, it was still all about souped-up cars trying to take down everything around them, and that really pulled me in. So imagine how happy I was when I got home from work last week to find a copy of AEG’s Rush n’ Crush on the doorstep.
A quick and dirty racing game with combat elements, Rush n’ Crush is a lot better than it looks, more than the sum of its parts. On opening the box I was actually a bit deflated – it’s a big old Ticket to Ride sized box, but in all honesty the components could probably fit into something half the size. You get two rulebooks, a bunch of modular track parts printed on thick card, dashboard sheets (which you can pop out the characters from to make different combinations), really teeny plastic future cars (seriously, you need tweezers to pick the buggers up), a bunch of dice and various plastic tokens, and… that’s it. Admittedly, it’s everything you need to play, but did AEG really need a big box like that? I suppose it helps to be more eyecatching.
Now, the question that I’m sure you’ll be pondering. Two rulebooks? Why two? Well, Rush n’ Crush has two different game modes – Arcade and Overdrive. Overdrive is filled with complexities, it’s the version of the game that those who want intricate control over their vehicles and – it must be said – I didn’t really get on with it that well. Arcade though, with its stripped down ruleset, has a much more pick up and play feel. Throw yourself straight into the game and see what happens. First one to the finish or last one standing… it doesn’t matter as long as you win!
Between three and six players grab themselves a dashboard and a car, select a character (each of whom has different weapon set-ups) and get ready to race. The modular track pieces are double-sided so you will see plenty of difference in tracks, from short looped affairs for multi-lap races to long, drawn-out A-to-B marathons. You move your vehicle by setting your speed then rolling a dice – this doesn’t tell you how far you can move though; with Rush n’ Crush, you are rolling to see how many times you can switch lanes. Screw this aspect up and you’ll be slamming straight into a wall, and even though your car can take a certain amount of damage nothing will stop it exploding when you hit something at top speed…
The aim of the game is primarily to survive. Winning is a secondary bonus.
Now, while I realise that this review comes across as saying that Rush n’ Crush is a dumb game, let me quickly get that idea out of your mind. There is actually a lot of thought required when playing it. You need to consider lots of different aspects – are you travelling too quickly to be able to take the corner that you’re rapidly approaching? Are you far ahead enough of your opponents to risk slowing down to guarantee you’ll reach the finish line, or will you put your foot down hoping that they aren’t thinking the same? Obviously you could just blow everyone around you to smithereens – also a viable strategy, but at its heart Rush n’ Crush is actually a really solid racing game.
We’re not looking at the most complex racing game on the market – that honour falls to Formula De, in my opinion – but Rush n’ Crush is a lot of fun. If anything, I often find the more realistic of the two can be a bit too demanding, especially when played at the highest level. Rush n’ Crush offers an entertaining alternative with just the right balance of skill and plain dumb luck, and sometimes that’s exactly what I want from a game.
Rush n’ Crush was published by AEG in 2009, and was designed by Frédéric Henry, Charly Cazals and Guillaume Blossier. Between three and six can play, and a game will take you around an hour. If you’d like a copy for yourself, you can get it for around £30 at Amazon. Brummm brummmm!