For what is essentially a cell phone, Nokiaâ€™s N-Gage has seen some excellent game releases in the past, with high-profile titles like Tomb Raider, X-Men Legends, Rayman 3 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory. With the recent release of the futuristic racer System Rush, N-Gage owners seem to have hit the jackpot once again. System Rush basically boils down to a techno-racer in the vein of F-Zero, Wipe-Out and TRON, but adds enough unique features that certainly warrant a look.
In System Rush, the player takes on the role of a system hacker who has created a program that prevents any hackers from entering a network. Players can choose from female hacker Ikko or her male counterpart Vert. Naturally, there are some evil multinationals who want to use the anti-hacker code for evil purposes, and it falls to the player to stop that from happening. Players enter the systems of these companies with their â€˜Co-Vecs,â€™ or Code Vehicles, to find a way to their precious code thatâ€™s been swiped by the villains. The story sequences are unveiled in a comic book-like format that, incidentally, boasts some magnificent art work.
Even though players take the role of hackers, no actual hacking is to be found in the game. Instead of hacking their way to victory, players take their Co-Vecs and race their way through the systems. Packed with hazards such as buildings and falling boulders, players must find their way through the network while racing against security vehicles (or â€˜modulesâ€™). Later in the game rival hackers appear in the races, set on stopping the playerâ€™s attempts to steal back their code. The goal is to finish the race in first place; otherwise the hack fails and the race must be restarted.
Along the tracks several power-ups can be found that shield your Co-Vec, give it a speed boost or slow down the security modules. Your Co-Vec has an energy meter that decreases when bumping into walls or other booby-traps. The energy meter can be replenished by either picking up energy power-ups found on the track or stealing energy from the modules. You can steal energy from the security modules automatically by racing side-by-side next to one until their energy is completely drained, ultimately making it explode. Points earned during races can be put to use upgrading your Co-Vec, improving areas like speed, aero, grip and drift.
Each of the 50+ races take place on the different continents of the world, with each track offering some representation to the locale. For example, the US track has its own Statue of Liberty. Why a computer would have a Statue of Liberty rendered inside it is beyond me, but itâ€™s a nice touch. There are 15 unique tracks in System Rush, and the tracks are varied enough to keep interest up.
The controls in System Rush are fairly simple; the controller key controls your Co-Vecâ€™s direction and the 5 button accelerates. Items are activated with the 7 button, while the # button changes cameras. The 2 button lets players jump into the air temporarily to glide through parts of the track, making it easier to avoid traps. When players do a jump while on a ramp, the glide time is significantly higher, thus making it possible to glide over a larger part of the track.
System Rush offers quite a bunch of game modes outside of the Story Mode. Free Hack mode lets the player race on any of the unlocked tracks. Similar to Free Hack mode is the GP mode, which is basically just several Free Hack races in a row. Players can compete against friends in Head-to-Head mode and the Multiplayer GP mode. There are also two online modes called Shadow Race and Hack TV.
Graphically, System Rush looks like a cross between Disneyâ€™s TRON environments and F-Zero and Wipe-Outâ€™s vehicles. While this may not be very original, itâ€™s a formula that works very well for this type of game. Environments are done in neon wireframes with plenty of varied colors. Sometimes the color scheme may make it a bit hard to see where a corner leads, but races can always be restarted.
The music in System Rush is a pleasant surprise. The songs are very well-produced techno tracks with solid beats, a great fit for the futuristic-racer feel of the game. The soundtrack CD contains all five mixes used in the game, making it a great addition. Sound effects arenâ€™t as impressive, with mostly monotonous sounds like the steady hum Co-Vecs make when accelerating.
System Rush doesnâ€™t have a very strong story line, but what racing game does? The gameplay itself is very fulfilling and will most certainly keep players entertained for quite some time. The huge amount of races and game modes are worth the purchase alone. Even non-racing fans like myself will enjoy this game, as System Rushâ€™s action will without a doubt make those long train rides much more enjoyable.