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Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA

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Reviewed by Scott McCall Last year's San Francisco Rush garnered a large, loyal following thanks to fast, over-the-top racing with a great two-player mode. With the success of the N64 version, Midway opted to make a sequel exclusively for the home systems. Rush 2: Extreme Racing USA has improvements abound, but does it live up to the legacy of the original? Sporting seven all-new racing tracks from around the country, three specialty tracks, and a host of new cars, Rush 2 takes the best of the original and adds improvements. While the original only had tracks in the streets of San Francisco, the tracks in Rush 2 take place in New York, Las Vegas, Seattle, and more. Fortunately, you can still also race on them backwards, mirrored, and backwards and mirrored. As far as control goes, the button setup in Rush 2 is the same. The actual feel, however, is different. I still think manual shifting is a must (it's the only home game in which I shift myself). But controlling the vehicles seems to rely more upon sliding and drifting, albeit unrealistically, than the original. I don't like it as much, but it's not a big problem. Even though you'll find pretty much the same options, there are many new choices for tweaking your vehicle. Some changes are merely cosmetic (horn sound, rim design, car color, engine sound) while others actually affect your control and acceleration (tires, torque, durability). The racing itself in Rush 2 is set up just like the original. There are the Circuit, One Race, and Practice modes. In the Circuit mode again, one or two players can race against the computer across 28 tracks that are randomly chosen (you play the seven tracks the four ways). The actual track designs, however, aren't as good as the original. There seems to be more emphasis on straight racing rather than huge jumps and shortcuts. Don't get me wrong, because the hidden keys (and soda pop cans) and shortcuts are still there, but the shortcuts don't seem as intuitive and there doesn't seem to be as many multiple paths. A new addition is the inclusion of specialty tracks: Crash, Halfpipe, and Stunt. The first two aren't anything special, but the Stunt track, which can be played by one or two players, is pretty cool. It's kind of hard to figure out because there's no real way to do tricks or to land by using button combinations. It's almost a matter of luck. Essentially, you have to go off small, box-shaped jumps at sharp angles to do rolls and flips. Then there are long, high ramps to get air time off of. You can combine these moves for combos and big points. San Francisco Rush wasn't known for its fantastic graphics and sound, but that helped make the game fast and fun for two. Rush 2 shows a few improvements in those areas, but it's starting to pale in comparison. Once again, there's no fog or pop-up and very little clipping. For the sequel, there's more texture mapping and the cars look more detailed. Sound-wise, the techno-esque music with lots of drums and bass is slightly better, but the weird compositions still aren't anything you won't be able to get out of your head. Rush 2 continues the original's tradition of great two-player racing. Also, the new Stunt track is a nice addition. But the only thing that keeps the game from reaching greatness is the slightly disappointing track designs that can't live up to the original. Nevertheless, if you loved the first one, then Rush 2 is good enough to own the sequel.

Graphics: 3.9 out of 5 Sound: 3.4 out of 5 Control: 3.8 out of 5 Gameplay: 4.3 out of 5 Lastability: 4.5 out of 5 Overall: 4.1 out of 5

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