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System Rush Review

Developer: Ideaworks 3D Publisher: Nokia
Release Date: September 2005 Also On: None

The Nokia N-Gage is a system that has been floundering for months. Its last major hit, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, was released in March. Fortunately for fans of the N-Gage (myself included), System Rush breaks this streak of silence from the Big N. It hasn’t been since Colin McRae that the N-Gage has had an A+ game. System Rush is the killer-app that N-Gage gamers have been craving for nearly a year.

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You take the role of a “hacker who created a sophisticated program to cleanse any network of malicious hacker activity. However, in the wrong hands, this code can be used as a ‘logic bomb’ to obliterate any network and leave a company crippled. The code is stolen by a group of ‘black hat’ hackers working for a global network of evil multinationals who intend to use the code to bring down rival corporations. The player needs to infiltrate these evil corporations and steal back his program before being framed with the most high profile hack the world has ever seen.�

Okay, so we aren’t playing this game for its storyline. Basically, you’re playing a 3D F-Zero game on a Nokia handheld. You don’t actually ‘hack’ anything; you race things called modules inside this computer program that try to stop your racer from hacking into the corporations’ system. There is no second place in this game. If you lose a race, you have to restart the race until you win. Either you succeed or don’t succeed in hacking the system.

The computer in each race consists of seven destructible ‘modules’. By racing close to your enemies and taking their energy, you can destroy them. These enemies, if in close enough proximity, can give your vehicle energy. An energy bar runs at the bottom of the screen. Run out of energy and your vehicle will explode. Sucking your enemies’ energy will come in handy once your races extend to three laps, as the more you crash into walls, land on traps, etc., your vehicle will take a beating.

Expect to ‘hack’ across North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. Each virtual world has its own setting with various themes. South America, for instance, has the feel of a tropical rainforest with Native American visuals sprawled throughout the race track. North America has dollar signs, the Statute of Liberty, Uncle Sam, the American flag, and is predominately blue and white with a red vehicle. Asia’s course meanwhile is red (communist, anyone?) with missiles, a radioactive sign, etc. as their overlying theme.

The controls in System Rush are a cinch. Nobody should have trouble picking this game up and playing it. Five accelerates, two jumps (air mode), seven is used for power-up, and the controller pad to move left and right. Each race you win gives you upgrade points for your vehicle. This can improve the grip, speed, aero, or drift. Which I should also mention; if you find ramps, you can jump and get good air, gliding over the track. This is often necessary to reach power-ups.

System Rush doesn’t put much emphasis on power-ups, which is a positive, in my opinion. Developers sometimes lose track of the direction they’re taking a game when they throw in power-ups when its purpose is either unknown or irrelevant to the stakes of the race. Each power-up has a specific purpose in System Rush. Freeze will temporarily pause enemies (and I do mean temporary; only about two seconds), boost will speed you up, shield will protect your vehicle, and then there’s a health power-up.

The single-player Story has over 50 individual races across several tracks. Races take place in groups of three (first is one lap, second is two laps, third is three with a boss). While you’ll only race on one track in each group (three consecutive races on the same track), the tracks are configured differently. Aside from Story, there is also Free Hack (choose a single-player race), GP Mode (play multiple races and earn points), Bluetooth multi-player, Shadow Races online, and Multiplayer GP.

System Rush has a surprisingly steady frame rate with little choppiness to speak of. I was hard-pressed to find anything wrong with the graphics. The tracks are beautifully rendered with this virtual computer world look to them, a nice variety of tracks and vehicles, and solid comic-book cut-scenes. My biggest complaint isn’t with the graphics, but with the story. Aside from the cut-scene visuals, the story as a whole is an abysmal failure.

If you’re a fan of the F-Zero franchise, System Rush will be a welcome addition to your N-Gage collection of games. It doesn’t have the annoying deaths like F-Zero did in the SNES days, but be prepared for difficult races against the advanced AI. Combined with its impressive gameplay, real sense of speed on a portable device, and a steady frame rate, System Rush is the killer-app that N-Gage has needed.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 9
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 9.5
Written by Kyle Review Guide