With its isometric viewpoint, addictive gameplay and fast paced multiplayer it’s hard not to compare BlazeRush to genre classics such as Micro Machines and Rock & Roll Racing. This genre has seen a resurgence recently, but BlazeRush is one of the titles that have come the closest to capturing the spirit of the aforementioned classics.
At its heart BlazeRush is an arcade racer, but it trims away all the fat such as health, levelling and even brakes to provide a pure adrenaline fueled experience. You simply select a car, track and race mode before settling in for some fun. With support for four player local multiplayer and eight player online multiplayer the game can be hard to put down once you are hooked. Despite a few occasions where it was hard to find an online game, the experience has been pretty smooth and hopefully the ranks of online players will swell once word gets out how brilliant the game is.
If playing online is not your thing, fear not as BlazeRush has a rather nice single player campaign as well. There are tons of races and it also functions as a tutorial for explaining the different types of vehicles and races as well as the means to unlock more cars. Once everything is unlocked you will have a roster of sixteen cars to choose from, split into three categories. You have the normal wheeled vehicles that control as you would expect as well as flying vehicles that are a bit speedier and more agile at the cost of durability. Finally, there are the tracked vehicles that control like they are on rails and built like tanks, but can take a while to get up to full speed. Overall I enjoyed almost every single vehicle that was on offer which is quite rare and shows how well balanced the game is.
Instead of straightforward racing, the emphasis of BlazeRush definitely leans more towards combat. As you drive along the track weapon power-ups randomly appear and these range from autoguns and missiles to saw blades, slime and even soundwaves. You can only carry one weapon at a time they are all one use only which ensures that you can’t hoard weapons or keep spamming the same ones. After using a weapon you’ll have to grab a power-up again before you can perform any attacks. The weapons appear in abundance, so you’ll see plenty of explosions and cars flying off the track, but you can’t actually kill opponents. Cars that are destroyed respawns nearly instantly at the back of the pack and since boosters, which can be used for a massive temporary speed increase also appears regularly in the wake of the lead car, races are usually very close affairs. Cars that fall too far behind are also respawned in order to keep all the racers visible on the screen. It sounds like it can be annoying, and in the single player mode it sometimes is, but overall it works well and ensures that there is never a dull moment during the game.
Apart from the time trial style races present in the single player campaign, there are three different race types available in BlazeRush. First up is the ordinary races where the first vehicle to cross the finishing line takes the gold. Then there is the “King of the Hill” style races where the car that manages to stay in the lead for a cumulative total of 50 seconds wins. These races are quite frantic as everyone is gunning for the lead car since attacking the rest of the pack doesn’t have any benefit. The final mode, and a personal favorite, is the “Death Race” where cars that fall behind is destroyed by a massive grinder type vehicle. Cars that are wrecked remains out of the race until there is only one left and the next round begins. This mode is ideal for screwing over opponents by hitting them with weapons or nudging them off the track and then boosting past as they get annihilated by the grinder.
The races take place on the usual track themes such as a jungle, scrapyard, lava and ice, but the visuals are quite detailed and very vibrant. The amount of detail that went into the vehicle designs and explosions are also quite impressive although it does mean that things can look a little chaotic most of the time. Each of the vehicles have their own driver and while their character portraits are very nice there is no speech in the game, which means they don’t have any real personalities. There is no announcer either, but considering how annoying they can be this isn’t really a bad thing. The audio is quite good overall with solid sound effects and some appropriate music tracks. None of the tunes are particularly memorable, but they fit the action nicely and adds to the frantic atmosphere of the races. We were quite impressed by how polished BlazeRush is and after a couple of hours playing encountered no bugs or crashes of any kind. Even the online multiplayer runs without a hitch, provided you can find other players of course.
Although BlazeRush can be played using a keyboard, an analog controller comes highly recommended. There is a little bit of a learning curve to playing with an analog controller though as instead of a dedicated acceleration button cars steer in the direction you press the analog stick. With no brakes to worry about you only have two buttons, one for firing the currently equipped weapon and one for activating a boost if you have it. The cars all handle very distinctly and are rated according to their mass, acceleration and handleability. None of the cars really feel “superior” to the others and we managed to win plenty of races using cars that are unlocked right off the bat. During the single player campaign winning cups unlocks new races while the points you accumulate unlocks new cars. The game awards points for all kinds of creative actions, so even if you don’t win you can still amass a big score depending on how you play.
None of the weapons in the game feel overpowered or useless either as each has their own situation where they can help you to get ahead. For example, the autogun or soundwave is idea for sections of the track without a barrier where you can knock out multiple cars if your timing is right while the bouncing saw is lethal on straights as it ricochets off the edges. Seeing your opponents face as you nail their car with slime, causing them to slow down just as the grinder bursts into view is just one of the reasons why the local multiplayer mode is so much fun.
There is honestly very little that we can fault about BlazeRush and this review would probably have been up much sooner if it wasn’t so hard to stop playing the game. Because the camera is designed to keep all the racers in view at all times it can be a little aggravating when you are too far in the lead and can’t see ahead, but this didn’t happen enough to really become a problem. Players who prefer racing games where you can actually pull ahead of fall behind of the pack without rubber banding might find this aspect of the game annoying, but once again it fits the arcade style nature of this title. If you have any love for the genre or fondly remember games such as Micro Machines, Rock & Roll Racing or Death Rally then you really owe it to yourself to check out this game.
- OS: Windows XP SP3
- Processor: 2.0 Ghz Intel Pentium-4 / AMD Athlon II
- Memory: 1 GB RAM
- Graphics: 256 MB NVidia / AMD Radeon / Intel (HD 3000, HD 4000) with support for Pixel Shader 3.0 (AMD Radeon X1000 not supported)
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
- OS: Windows 7 x64
- Processor: 2.3 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD Athlon64 X2 or better
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB NVidia GeForce 650 / AMD Radeon HD 5750 / Intel HD 4000 and newer
- Network: Broadband Internet connection
- Hard Drive: 1 GB available space