San Francisco Rush

Climax turns a great game into a bum Rush

Publisher: Midway
Developer: Climax
Genre: Action

While Midway has never been known for making great PlayStation games, playing San Francisco Rush makes us wonder if it's even trying anymore. There's so much wrong with this game it isn't even funny. While the game is mildly playable, it's not even close to a Rush game.

About the only things that remain from the arcade version is the name, the tracks, and the "Rush" sound. Everything else is different. Let's start with the control. San Francisco Rush's biggest draw came from the arcade-ish control and wild shortcuts. Due to the peculiar physics in the game, a slight ding against a wall or a corner would make your car spin like a top and explode like a Pinto doused in gasoline. In the PlayStation version, every single car performs like it's been nailed to the ground. You corner like a Ferrari even with the Extreme car, which fishtails like a salmon. One of the key reasons is because the cars don't powerslide. Oh sure, they "skid," but if you can make a hairpin turn with the Lamborghini at 150 mph, then something's wrong.

The physics model is all screwed up, too. Local gravity is way too high on the on the cars, and it's almost impossible to flip over. One of the key points in arcade and Nintendo 64 Rush was that the touchy physics and control made it dangerous and rewarding to attempt a shortcut. However, now you couldn't die in a tunnel if you tried. You simply won't flip over. While this isn't a bad thing in a normal racing game, it turns this game into something other than San Francisco Rush.

Graphically, it feels half-assed, like the rest of the game. There are only four normal tracks (plus one bonus track), and while they may look like those in the arcade, they're so sloppy it actually affects gameplay. The fogging in two-player mode is enormous, and if you play in horizontal split screen the first player's screen is smaller than player two's, decreasing visibility to about four feet. Some shortcuts are immensely glitchy to the point where you'll fall through floors or run up invisible walls. Imagine taking the Opera House course, jumping up the ramp only to see your car go past the overhang and up several hundred feet into nothingness. It's that bad.

Outside the game modes, the programming is equally as haphazard. Loading is the word, and be prepared for long loading delays for EVERYTHING. There's a loading time between selecting a play mode, selecting a course, even when selecting automatic or manual transmission. God forbid you should reset the race -- be prepared to make a cup of coffee first.

If anything positive must be said about the PlayStation version of San Francisco Rush, it's that it's not a horrible racing game. In fact, if it were any other game, it would be marginally playable as an arcade racing game like Ridge Racer. Unfortunately, it's a Rush game that's nothing like a Rush game, and there are much better arcade racers out there.

The Nintendo 64 Rush is immensely better than the PlayStation version. This is a totally disappointing port after all the secrecy behind its development. Bottom line: Don't Rush. There's no hurry to pick this one up.