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N-Gage  header logo

System Rush Evolution

For: N-Gage

Your jaw will drop

Product: System Rush Evolution | Developer: Ideaworks Game Studio | Publisher: Nokia | Format: N-Gage | Genre: 3D, Racing | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
System Rush Evolution N-Gage, thumbnail 1
We'll say it right away: if you want a launch title that truly shows off the graphical va-va-voom of Nokia's N-Gage platform, System Rush Evolution is the one to go for.

Ideaworks3D's futuristic racer is one of the best looking mobile games we've ever seen. And best sounding, for that matter, with a pounding techno soundtrack that's perfectly in keeping with the game's subject material. Seriously, we've showed it to friends who aren't mobile gamers and watched their jaws drop in amazement. If word of mouth is to fuel the growth of N-Gage, this game might be a key USP for Nokia's platform.

But looks aren't everything. The downside, as we'll explain, is a difficulty level set just the wrong side of 'Ninja', which may put people off once they actually download it. But we'll get to that.

So, like its predecessor on the original N-Gage, System Rush Evolution is a WipEout-esque futuristic racer, complete with a plot that's a modern-day take on Tron, with you zooming round the networks of corrupt governments trying to hack their systems' firewalls.

Each location in the game has three distinct challenges to attempt: Infiltrate, Shutdown, and Evacuate. Infiltrate is a straight race against the clock, collecting power-ups, avoiding enemies, and using accelerator strips for additional speed boosts.

Shutdown is similar, but now you're given weapons with which to blast enemies, turning it into more of a 3D shoot'-em-up, complete with a boss lurking at the end of the level. Finally, Evacuate is an almost Pilot Wings (for those that remember Nintendo's aerial acrobatic fest from yesteryear) style bit where you swoop through hoops.

We love the variety on offer in this trio, although each section fits perfectly into the visually stunning gameworld. Have we mentioned that System Rush Evolution really does look marvellous? (Even if, because the scenery whizzes past so rapidly, you won't have much chance to goggle at it.)

But there's more to the game than working through the different areas, completing those three challenges in each. You're awarded stars for each challenge and every so often, when you pass a certain number, your craft will evolve and get a bit more powerful at a particular ability, such as speed or shooting.

Meanwhile, your total stars also result in 'core evolutions', covering your overall craft. It's a neat system that encourages you to go back and replay levels to bump up your star total and thus pimp your craft.

In addition to all this, you have an N-Gage Arena mode that makes it possible to race head-to-head against other players over the network, in two-craft duels. There's a choice of Filtered or Ranked modes, which involve either choosing a track and challenge to race, or entering a lobby to find similar players to compete against.

We were hugely impressed by the Ranked mode, chucking us straight into races without fuss. The Filtered option wasn't quite as effective due to the low number of people playing online right now – as an indication, one win sent us to 373rd in the global online rankings – but that'll obviously change as N-Gage rolls out to more handsets.

Anyway, we ought to point out the online play involves playing individually, though simultaneously, and then comparing your scores once the race is over. It's a clever feature that should minimise data traffic and reduce any lag problems.

With all of the above considered, you'd expect it to mark System Rush Evolution out as a superb, addictive and well-crafted game with serious long-term depth. But there's that aforementioned hitch: it's bloody hard.

We're not just talking challenging, but rather frustratingly difficult, with some levels where you just feel you can't progress to the point of throwing your phone at the wall when you get 'traced' (the in-game term for failing a level) for the seventh time in succession.

Yes, System Rush Evolution is an unashamedly hardcore game and given intense practice you do progress. But with the visuals potentially attracting casual gamers, too, we think there could have been scope to relax the difficulty level a bit – with the evolution system of stars providing the challenge craved by more hardened players.

Ultimately that's the only thing preventing the game from getting an even higher score. That doesn't detract from the fact that, technically, System Rush Evolution is a fantastic demonstration of what N-Gage is capable of in terms of graphics and online connectivity. And, to be clear, that despite its difficulty issues it scores as high as it does is testament to its excellent ability as a game.

Buy it, then. Just be aware you'll need to put serious time in to get the most out of it.
System Rush Evolution
Reviewer photo
Stuart Dredge | 20 February 2008
Superb, strongly structured racer that looks incredible, sounds great, and works seamlessly online. Many will wish it were a bit easier, though
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