Title: San Francisco Rush: 2049
Developer: Midway
Platforms: Sega Dreamcast,Nintendo 64,Arcade
Release Date: 09/05/00

The Rush series is an underappreciated one. It's no Gran Turismo, but then it wasn't meant to be. San Fransisco Rush: 2049 is an arcade-style racer, first and foremost. If it were only a racer, it would be a decent racer. Decent, but probably not worth buying except to the racing fanatic. Luckily, Midway has given us 3 games in one package. In Rush: 2049, not only can you race through the streets of San Francisco, but you can also take part in a 4 car death match similar to Twisted Metal. Then there is the third mode, stunt mode.

Racing Mode:
In racing mode you get 6 tracks, all based on a futuristic version of (you guessed it) San Francisco. All 6 contain many insane shortcuts that either cut through secret areas, fling you far into the sky, or let you drive through a Hot-Wheels kind of loop-de-loop, then spills you back onto the track. Combine the crazy shortcut-filled tracks with 4 player support and the signature over-the-top physics engine of Rush, and you've got a pretty fun racer. Somehow, the racing mode ended up being the weakest part of the game. This is mostly because of the easily outwitted AI, which follows a very rigid set course and offers little challenge. Unfortunately, you will spend much of your time in this mode because you need to collect coins to unlock tracks and car parts for the other modes.

Stunt Mode:
Rush was always about stunts. It was never enough to win a race. Falling 200 feet out of the sky to land on your side, sliding past the finish line mere inches from the competitors taking the more tame course? Now that's what makes Rush fun. Previous games in the series certainly had tricks, but not until 2049 and the advent of wings did we get a dedicated mode for stunts. 4 tracks (only one of which is unlocked at first) full of dozens of obstacles big and small to perform stunts off of. In stunt mode you get points for the tricks you do. More points are awarded for stringing multiple tricks together, and more still for not using your wings, or using them only a little. Again, add 4 player support to this mix and you have 1/3 of a game that could stand on its own quite well.

Battle Mode:
While adding stunt mode to Rush was understandable, I don't think anyone saw Midway adding a battle mode to it's arcade racing series. But even more surprising than that, it's really good! It has a handful of interesting and varied places to battle, and a nice weaponset to compliment it. Everything from the tried-and-true machine guns, mines, and rocket launchers to the more original shockwave weapon and electric ram has been implemented nicely. The rush physics engine is still in full effect here, so expect to see just as many people die because of their own lack of driving skills as by their opponents gunfire. The battle mode is a surprisingly well-balanced addition to SF Rush: 2049, and like stunt mode, could hold its own against any game of similar type all by itself.

But wait, there's more?

Another great aspect in SF Rush 2049 is the high replay value. Although at first glance, there doesn't seem to be many tracks, they are so packed full of extras you won't mind. Also, the options of racing them backward and/or in mirror-mode helps.
Scattered throughout the levels are coins, some in incredibly hard to reach places. These must be collected to unlock more tracks, cars, and parts. This adds even more to the replay value, adding a platformer-like element to it. The in-game odometer unlocks certain car parts as you play, including transmissions, engines, tires, and frames.

San Francisco Rush: 2049 is a well balanced blend of genres into one enticing package. Now that the dreamcast is (commercially) dead, you can pick this title up for under 20$ easily. 3 games for 20 dollars!
My only complaints would be the bad, bad AI and the not-so-good menu system. Other than that, an excellent addition to the Rush family.

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