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The overhead view during racing in Rush Hour eliminates the ability for the player to see far ahead on the road. This would be a major problem, but signs are displayed on the screen to show the direction and angle of the upcoming turns. Additionally, despite the misleading name of the game, there is no traffic other than the racers, and no surprises lie in wait on the road ahead. Single player games pit the player against seven opponents, all of which drive different vehicles. These vehicles come from either the high performance class (sports cars) or the heavy metal class (off-road vehicles). There are four cars to a class, and each time the game is won on professional with each different car, a new vehicle is made accessible. This makes for a total of sixteen cars, in addition to eight race courses. These cars and courses offer good replay value for those that enjoy the Rush Hour experience, but many will find themselves bored after the first hour of racing. Two player racing splits the screen vertically, and causes no real loss in graphics or game play. However, two player racing quickly gets tiresome as well, because the player's cars are the only two on the track. In order for two player racing to have been a real addition to Rush Hour, it would have had to be accessible in championship mode, which it isn't. Though the game controls fine, game play and controls are overall simplistic. The player only has to steer, press the gas, or hit the brake along a series of turns which quickly become repetitive. There are few advanced techniques to learn other than to hug the corners whenever possible, and swing wide for sharp turns.
Perhaps the strongest point of Rush Hour is the game's incredibly solid and beautiful graphics. The unique perspective of the game allows for on the fly camera movement, as if a helicopter taping the cars was raising or lowering altitudes. As with seemingly every Psygnosis racer, Rush Hour goes above and beyond the call of duty in all ways graphic. Every course is rock solid, with absolutely no polygon breakup, flickering, slowdown, or pop up present, even in two player mode. Everything is crystal clear as well, bringing Rush Hour to the level of Psygnosis' WipeOut XL, if in it's own unique way.
A generic, hard rock soundtrack gives Rush Hour a bit of attitude, and though the music is nothing memorable, it does the job. Engine noise, sound effects, and a clear, passive announcer's voice are done fairly well, as are the ambient noises from the various side row attractions the cars pass. These five forms of noise have their own individual meters which can be set at a level of anywhere from 0 to 100 percents, according to the player's preference. This excellent feature should be a standard for all racing games. Though the music and sound effects of the game don't stand out in and of themselves, they make a worthy addition to the playing experience.
All the elements are in place for Rush Hour to be a great game. Responsive game play, excellent graphics, adjustable sound and music levels, and the solid feel of a title that is wrapped up as a tight package all show the game's potential. The unique perspective puts it apart from other racers on the market, but in the end, Rush Hour is just too basic of a racing game to provide top notch entertainment. Cars don't crash or flip, gears are shifted automatically, and races are very uneventful. One major mistake means being falling behind for the whole race. This would be the type of game to satisfy realistic racing fanatics, but the camera angle does not lend itself to the group, and neither do the cartoon like cars.
Written by Andrew Phelan
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