There are seemingly more racing games right now than cars in the Indy 500. Psygnosis seems to be hedging their bets on a whopping six entries: Wipeout, Wipeout XL, Destruction Derby, Destruction Derby 2, Formula 1, and their latest title, Rush Hour. Will it take the Pole Position? Not quite, but it's not about to be lapped either.
There are only so many variations on the basic racing premise, and Rush Hour excels in its innovation. Instead of using the overdone first-person perspective, Rush Hour has an above-and-behind view of the car, similar to the view found in the third section of Die Hard Trilogy. Beyond delivering a welcome change from the norm, this perspective allows the designer to avoid the pop-up problems usually associated with first person and, in doing so, does a pretty good job on the graphics; you won't see tracks building before you - they're quite seamless and easy on the eyes.
Rush Hour's other cool features include a variety of vehicles, excellent track layouts, and a great two-player mode. Players choose from sports cars and sport-utility vehicles (plus a horde of secret rigs like a stock car), and if they're not careful, wreck them with ease. Gamers might find themselves out of the race if they make a few collisions, and while that damage factor was overdone to the extreme in Destruction Derby 2, it works quite well here. On some of the tracks, avoiding a crash is not an easy feat (such as in the off-ramp-filled level Downtown), but it's not impossible and rather fun. Adding to the repeat play value is a split-screen two-player option for you to annoy your friends with.
Does it have any faults? No more or fewer than any others racers, really. There's a grouping problem in which the computer-controlled cars stay fairly neck and neck and are hard to catch up with if you make a mistake or two (if you get turned around, just forget it), but there is nothing to hamper your enjoyment greatly. Rush Hour does, however, miss out on some of the intense speed found in racers like Wipeout XL and Rage Racer, but granted those are the gold standards.
Overall, Rush Hour is a racing game that is - if not totally innovative - at least different enough to be pretty fresh. If you're into racers and looking for something different, check it out.