We feel for anyone whose job it is to concoct a story out of racing cars up and down streets, but our sympathy is stretched to breaking point with L.A. Rush's ludicrous plot. In short, your playboy street racer has 30 cars nicked by a rival, and the only way to get them back one at a time is by winning races organised by him.
Leaving aside the rubbish storyline, the dialogue sounds like it was written by a white chav who thinks he's black, and characters are only able to speak if they're waving their arms around at the same time. It makes the Fast and the Furious flicks look like Shakespeare.
Ignore the reasons behind the racing and you're left with an uncomplicated, unoriginal, yet fun racer that's unapologetic about how superficial it is, making it perfect for quick bursts of playing. Five huge areas of LA teeming with traffic but not a single pedestrian are crammed into the handheld, and it's pretty entertaining just to spend time cruising the streets, smashing lightweight vehicles and scenery out of the way, and sparking cop chases.
You can take part in one-off street races to earn cash, get your car pimped at West Coast Customs (not as exciting as it sounds since you don't get any choice over what to splash out on, it's just a one-off upgrade), and damage your rival's property and cars.
New to the open-world feel are 30 Cruise missions in which you earn money for every per cent of a course completed - the snags being that there's a set minimum speed and one crash ends the race. It's the closest you'll get to a game version of Speed.
Away from the main story, there's a new Stunt Arena mode that tries to bring a dash of Tony Hawk's to a different set of four wheels. Arenas are packed with ramps and loop-the-loops, and by tilting the car in mid air and landing it safely you score points and collect tokens to unlock more cars. It should be entertaining, but the camera goes a bit mental when you're twisting and turning and the sensitive controls don't help either.
This mode plus six others are playable as two- or four-player games via W-Fi, though sadly none are playable online and there isn't a Game Sharing option. Battle Arena and Battle Race introduce weapons such as machine guns, mines and rocket launchers, and pretty much play like graphically superior versions of Mashed and Micro Machines v4. Power-up Races and Street Races are selfexplanatory enough, and Cat and Mouse is a fun little mode that pushes your skill behind the wheel.
Overall, the new features aren't enough to propel L.A. Rush into Essential Buy territory even if you enjoyed the PS2 original. File this alongside Juiced: Eliminator and Ford Street Racing: LA Duel - games you'll find in the bargain bucket three months after release.
Far too much effort has been spunked on blocky hookers, hip hop and a silly gangster plot.
- Huge city to explore
- Exciting cop chase scenes
- No customisation options
- Shit, cringe-worthy story