Code-cracking madness — Codemasters acquires Slightly Mad Studios

It’s time to talk about another acquisition that I and at least one other person didn’t see coming, and it once again involves the racing-game genre.  Codemasters has a handful of ongoing series in their garage, such as DirtGrid, and the official Formula 1 games.  They now own new territory thanks to their acquisition of fellow British developer Slightly Mad Studios, makers of the Project CARS IP.  If you ask me, this is a big deal because they’re two of the most prominent companies when it comes to today’s racing games, not to mention they both have really good assets and licenses.  With this purchase comes very valid questions — Is one of the four aforementioned series being canned? Which licenses that Slightly Mad Studios owned could be used in Codemasters’ Grid series, and vice versa for the Project CARS series? Regardless of what theories we come up with, the best thing we can do is to wait for Codies to give us the answer..And you bet your buttons I’m excited to know what’s up.

Review of Onrush – A spiritual successor to Codemasters’ own Fuel?

If you’re a diehard fan of driving games, chances are Codemasters has been one of your favorite developers. The UK-based studio has dominated the genre with long-running series like Dirt, F1, Grid, and Micro Machines. But if you remember their post-apocalyptic off-road racer called Fuel, you might be intrigued by this new addition to Codemasters’ garage, so to speak; Take the vehicular combat of Burnout, put it in a setting akin to Fuel, and you get Onrush.

The Pikes Peak Hillclimb on caffeine

Set in an environment that embraces crazy driving and dubstep music, Onrush looks, on paper, like a spiritual successor to Fuel because of its vehicle selection, which is comprised of ATV’s, dirt bikes, trucks, and dune buggies; Two teams drive (Not race) on a variety of off-road courses in an attempt to win a set number of rounds. Depending on the event type, a round is won by driving through enough checkpoints, staying in the designated zones, wrecking the other team enough times, or racking up the higher combined score. Drivers are equipped with a speed-boost button and rack up points and boost by drifting, catching air, performing stunts, and making contact with anything that has wheels. You also have a special move that grants a period of unlimited boost and harder hits, but it has to be charged up first. All of these moves would be meaningless if the game didn’t have tight controls and hilarious crash physics, and the team at Codemasters delivers in those departments as per usual.

The graphics engine succeeds effortlessly in making the mountain-based courses and damage-modelling look very realistic; Even the drivers look satisfactory despite the wacky nature of their outfits, which can be customized in a number of ways as you progress through the campaign. Codemasters has also given you the ability to decide whether you prefer better graphics or faster framerate, which is a really nice touch. No matter how many vehicles are flying all over the place, I didn’t run into any bad frame-drops. I personally prefer the graphics over the audio as the game’s soundtrack only has dubstep, but I have nothing against you if that’s your favorite genre of your music.

Since split-screen seems to not be that popular these days, a vehicular-combat game would be in remiss if online multiplayer wasn’t offered, and Onrush checks if off the to-do list; 12 players can duke it out in the event type of their choosing and on a laundry list of tracks. The game’s crash physics and emphasis on rough driving will lead to a lot of cursing or laughing, or possibly both.

Get down and dirty…Totally not referencing another Codemasters game

Codemasters didn’t create anything groundbreaking here, but it will still rev up the engine of any kind of driving-game fan. If you’re a longtime supporter of wacky driving games like Mario Kart, Need for Speed, and Burnout, you might want to give Onrush a test drive. Let the scrap metal fly!