Top-down racers are a forgotten genre but thankfully BlazeRush is here to bring it new life. Although it debuted last year, this polished iteration is better than ever so slip on your driving gloves and let's take it to the track.
As a big fan of Super Sprint and all of its sequels and spiritual successors, I must say that BlazeRush makes me realise just why I love these games so much. You basically control your vehicle from an overhead perspective by tilting the stick in the direction you want to move and tapping buttons to boost and fire weapons. Steering is different to the arcade games of old because in those you had to wrap your head around which direction is left and right while staring at your vehicle from a bird's eye view. It required a knack to get used to so it goes without saying that the control method here is a lot more intuitive. Even though the vehicles appear small, they have a weight to them that allows you to take advantage of the realistic physics in order to win. For example, boosting off a ramp will make you soar through the air (just be careful not to fall off the track). This basic setup makes racing easy to learn while the tight controls and implemented physics bring much excitement to the equation.
BlazeRush won't blow you away when it comes to graphics but they are super sharp and chock full of awesome explosions. The tracks come in different themes that distinguish themselves well although there are only a handful in total. If there were additional themes then it would have been a more varied racing experience. That being said, there are plenty of track layouts that'll keep your palms sweating. The music is toe-tapping while sound effects provide immediate satisfaction for every onscreen activity. This is especially the case when you hear effects come from the DualShock 4's speaker. Overall, it looks and sounds fantastic for an overhead racer.
If you're planning on playing BlazeRush solo then you'll be delighted by how much content is available. Career mode is divided into dozens of challenges that range from basic races, king of the hill matches where you try to be at the head of the pack for as long as possible, time trials, and death races where a giant spiked steamroller persistently advances on the racers. Each race grants you points, medals, and cups according to how well you perform. Points are used to climb the career mode's leaderboard and unlock new characters that come with their own unique vehicles. Cups unlock further progress while medals are simply achievements that you can try to collect. With a vast assortment of slowly introduced vehicles and weapons, this mode manages to stay thrilling from start to finish.
BlazeRush also boasts an impressive multiplayer implementation where you can play with a mix of up to four local players and eight online players. There are loads of options to tinker with as well so each match can be fully customized for maximum enjoyment. One feature that I find incredible is the fact that you can play through career mode with additional players. How cool is that?
The biggest issue that I have with BlazeRush is that it can frequently feel unfair. Perhaps the largest contributor to this is the rubber-band mechanic which ensures no racer can be left too far behind. Also, odd occurrences such as hitting an opponent with a missile only to have them rocket ahead from the blast and recover mostly unscathed will drive anyone insane. As if the game wasn't challenging enough already! Having said all this, it's so much fun that these moments don't really take away from the overall experience.
BlazeRush is a must-buy for anyone who loves old-school racers. As a long time fan of the genre, I'm very impressed by how the developers crafted such a fresh and exciting top-down racer while staying true to what made these games special back in the day.
- + Simple, intuitive, and tight controls
- + Exciting top-down racing combat gameplay
- + Huge satisfying single player campaign and plenty of multiplayer options
- - Only a handful of track themes
- - Some aspects such as the rubber-band mechanic can often feel unfair