Missiles and bullets flying past cars; monster trucks and flying saucers whizzing down tracks; collisions, crashes, and that all-important final lap overtake – this is BlazeRush, a brand new PlayStation 3 racer from Russian developer Targem Games.
This drive-‘em-up offers a short story about underground racing and your involvement with it, but it serves primarily as a backdrop for the multiple, otherworldly locations that you’ll find yourself competing in. As such, much like a fighting game, the campaign feels more like an extended tutorial of kinds, firstly teaching you the rules of the road, before setting you free on the other game modes.
Fortunately, it’s pretty good fun, thanks to a core experience packed with replay value. Indeed, you won’t just be tasked with winning races, but also completing on-track objectives, such as destroying opponents. Any points that you earn can then be used to buy additional racers and vehicles, each with unique stats and handling. Light vehicles, for example, excel in acceleration but handle very loosely, while heavy ones are robust against enemy fire, but much slower. There are even flying vehicles which handle superbly, but can easily be pushed off the track by enemy fire.
It’s the multiplayer where the title really shines, though. Taking on opponents both online and locally will bring back memories of Micro Machines for the older among you – or MotorStorm RC if you’re a little younger. An isometric perspective shows all of the vehicles in the race, and zooms out slightly as the pack begins to disperse. Nitrous and weapons drop from the sky, with races balanced by boosts falling behind the front-runner, giving everyone an opportunity to keep pace.
Races are subsequently intense and hard fought, with everyone vying for first place right up until the very last stretch of the final lap. The only problem with this is that it can be infuriating if your lead is snatched away at the last second, but it’s obviously equally gratifying if you’re the one that comes up trumps on the final hairpin bend.
Outside of the core racing are a collection of other modes to test your chops. King of the Hill has you jostling for first position, attempting to score 50 full seconds at the front of the pack. Elsewhere, Time Trails gives you the track to yourself, and tests you to beat a target time, while Eliminator puts you up against a giant mechanical steamroller, which will chase you down and pick up speed until you get crushed. Finally, there are Night Races, which take place in near pitch black conditions, as the name perhaps indicates.
Sadly, while there are plenty of gameplay options, the track variety is a little lacking. Granted, the backgrounds see you racing in anything from a junk yard to a lush jungle, but the courses themselves tend to be predictable affairs, crying out for a little more diversity. Visually, it looks a bit flat, too.
BlazeRush’s frantic racing is fun with friends, even if it can be a touch frustrating at times. A lack of track variety lets its wealth of gameplay options down, but if you’re in the market for some Micro Machines-esque action, this is a good choice.