App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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I am a relative late-comer to the Rush Rally series, only hopping in seriously into the third entry, but it made me a full-on convert to Brownmonster racing games on mobile. I can't think of other games that simulate car racing so realistically while still feeling so accomodating and accessible no matter what your comfort level with touchscreen gaming is. Rush Rally Origins is a little different in that it puts a more arcade feel on the car handling, but in the process it discards a lot of the bells and whistles from the previous game.
It's hard to get excited when you boot up any Rush Rally game, as its menus are soulless and almost purely utilitarian. Once you get into a race, though, you're golden. Even though there's no soundtrack and a pretty monotonous-sounding co driver pointing out the grade of upcoming turns, sliding around a dirty hairpin curve feels better here than just about anywhere else on the App Store. This is true for all games in the series, including Origins, though this game tends to make all the cars feel a little looser so you can worry less about your precision and just focus on going fast.
This iteration of the game sticks to two different top-down perspectives only, which is fine as long as those views work for you. I have a clear preference for the "Helicopter Chase" view over the "Retro Isometric," though it seems with time you could get used to either. Since it takes some investment to tune into to your own car handling preferences and upgrades, this isn't so much a problem as it is a specific and notable design choice.
What is odd about Rush Rally Origins is its feature set. Where Rush Rally 3 has a full-on career mode, live events, and more, Origins is a much more stripped down game. It's completely single player (unless you count online leaderboards) and has three game modes: Time Trial, Race, and Championship. The first two of these are self-explanatory, and Championship is basically a blend of the first two. You complete time trials over multiple courses in hopes of having the lowest cumulative time when measured up against the times of AI opponents.
What makes this odd is Rush Rally 3 has these modes already. It also has one of the overhead views present in Origins, live and asynchronous multiplayer, the aforementioned career mode, skill challenges, and more. Both games are priced the same, so unless you want new courses, a specific overhead view, or a more arcadey feel, I'm not sure why someone would want to pick up Origins.
More motoring only
The reduction of features in Rush Rally Origins extends beyond game modes into accessibility options. Toggles for brake assist, auto-throttle, and racing lines that were in Rush Rally 3 aren't present in Origins, not to mention things like handbrake controls or manual gearbox options. This is probably in keeping with the perceived desire to offer a lighter experience, but those options can help make the game feel as good as it does on touch, and applying them to the more realistic Rush Rally 3 in the right combination can give you more of an arcade experience.
All of these "missing" features don't necessarily make Rush Rally Origins a bad game. The racing still feels great, and if you've been craving new tracks to race on, that's one department where this game doesn't feel like a diminished version of its predecessor. Origins features 36 stages, all of which you can modify the time of day and weather effects for, and the different locations of these stages add some nice visual and design variety to the game.
The bottom line
If I didn't know Rush Rally 3 existed, Rush Rally Origins would be a much more impressive package. This is to say it's a great game, but it is also missing things I thought I could expect from this series, even in a move to a more arcade-like iteration. Maybe some of that stuff is coming at some point. As it stands now, though, there are only a few very specific reasons why you might want to play Origins over the previous game, and doing so comes with some pretty significant trade-offs.