I'm still waiting for a true successor to this game. I think I'm mature enough now to admit I really like arcade racers over their sim counterparts. I like the sim racing games as well but they don't hold my attention for hours the way an old-school arcade racer like Rush 2049 could.
This game got everything right. Once you got a handle on the physics being used, you could make your car do just about anything. It helps when a button pops out wings and allows you to do flips and spirals.
The racing is certainly the meat of the game. This mode not only had a fairly challenging "career" mode in which you unlocked other exciting tracks but also had collection objectives where you would have to hit a ramp at just the right angle or discover some secret alleyway to find all the coins. The coins then unlocked cars and upgrades.
And these tracks had a lot of shortcuts. Similar in feel to SSX, where you could race through the main course, and probably win, but you could also find several unique lines through a course by knowing where the proper shortcuts are and give yourself a completely unfair advantage. I loved it. These shortcuts, for the most part, were fun and required nearly expert timing in order to succeed in a jump that would clear a dozen buildings or something spectacularly similar.
Rush 2049 also boasts an impressive stunt mode. Earning high scores in one of the stunt arenas would unlock other arenas. There's nothing like the feeling if hitting some obstacle at full speed, performing a dozen stomach churning flips and spins, and landing the move without using your wings. Awesome.
And last but not least, is the battle mode. I think, when this game came out on the N64, me and my friends played the battle mode nearly as much as we did Goldeneye or the battle mode in Starfox 64. The levels were well designed and the weapons were fun to use. Hitting something with the sonic detonator (giant speakers on top of your car) as they drove by at one hundred miles an hour still puts a smile on my face.
Maybe now that some of my other favorite games from this era are getting remakes, someone will make a decent sequel to the Rush franchise, one with the same quality of courses, shortcuts, stunt mode, and battle mode. Yeah, a guy can dream.
Good news, both the N64 version and the Dreamcast version emulate great these days. Though I played the N64 version in the day, I recommend the Dreamcast version now if your system can handle nullDC. The graphics are better. If you have a lower end system. the N64 version is awesome as well and emulates great using Project64.