But hidden beneath the game's meandering plot of stolen girlfriends and souped up supercars is a decent, if unoriginal, racing experience. And at £5/$8 a pop, it's hard to really deny the value in Gaijin Entertainment's downloadable racer.
May is a crazy month for arcade racers. It very much plays into the old adage spoken of buses: you wait hours for one, and then two come at once. In the example at hand, we've waited literally years for something to follow-up Burnout Paradise, and this month alone we get Split/Second, Blur and, to a lesser extent, Modnation Racers.
Anarchy: Rush Hour seems to have cottoned onto the fact that May is the official month for arcade racing games, releasing on the Playstation Store at the start of the month. Probably a good thing considering the aforementioned pedigree of games launching later.
It's hard to really establish Anarchy: Rush Hour's key inspiration. It seems to play off a number of popular racers: Burnout, Midnight Club, Cruisin' USA, OutRun - you name it, there are flashes of the game in there. As such, Anarchy: Rush Hour lacks personality, but we can forgive that of a game retailing for the same price as an Angry Whopper from Burger King.
The game tries to justify your racing exploits, by throwing together a cobbled plot of Russian people, stolen girlfriends and racing gangs. All you really need to know is that you have a car and you drive it. Reasonably fast.
Anarchy: Rush Hour adopts the open-world layout of other recent arcade racers such as Burnout Paradise and Test Drive Unlimited. While it's possible to explore the world and hit on events in that manner, there's also a pretty useful "email" menu that gives you quick access to events. Many of the events are point-to-point, circuit, elimination or drag affairs - though the game does go Twisted Metal for a little car combat too.
The variety is good but it's hard to deny the content's a bit hacked together. This represents every inch of the word "me-too", and while it does everything fairly competently, it hardly adds anything to elevate the particular franchises it tries to emulate.
Nor does it look particularly astounding either. Passable, yes - with bland but pretty textures and a reasonable framerate - but distinctly devoid of personality.
Gameplay-wise, Anarchy: Rush Hour implements a number of disparate elements. There's a boost bar which allows you to perform a number of techniques aside from the obvious. You'll be able to ram yourself through traffic, issue shockwaves to nearing competitors, and flip yourself forward in order to perform tricks. The problem is, Anarchy: Rush Hour is never the sum of its parts. It has stunts but it's not a stunt game. It has races but it's not a racing game. It has car combat but it's not a car combat game.
But when all's said and done, it's completely playable. It might lack a personality, but if, like us, you've been itching for this month when arcade racing returns to Playstation 3, then Anarchy: Rush Hour should be your first port of call. It's distinctly "ok" from whichever angle you look at it, and you absolutely aren't coming back to it the moment Blur and Split/Second land, but for £5/$8, it should fill the next two weeks with something, and make the wait for said big releases a little easier.