Release Date: October 25, 2004
Pre-order 'OUTRUN 2': Xbox
Sega has long been known as the king of the arcade racing games, with classics such as Sega Rally and Crazy Taxi leading the way. This tradition actually started much earlier, when Sega released the arcade-turned-Genesis smash hit, OutRun, in 1986. At the time, OutRun was a ground-breaking racing game that featured a very fast sense of speed compared to other racers of its day. Due to the limited technology, most racing games were slow-paced and offered simple graphics and limited amounts of music. OutRun changed all of that with its detailed graphics and complete soundtrack, featuring classic hits such as "Passing Breeze" and "Magical Sound Shower." These catchy little tunes are still quite popular today, as is the game from whence they came. After 18 years, Sega has finally decided to give the long-time fans what we all have been waiting for, with the release of OutRun 2 for the Xbox. Things are much different now, and the arcade racing genre certainly contains some worthy competitors, most notably from EA's Burnout series. Can OutRun recapture some of the magic and success of the original in order to be top dog in this crowded genre?
When Sega decided to remake this classic, they were set on staying close to their roots by keeping the same look and feel of the original, and that is one of the very first things you will notice about OutRun 2. Everything from the art styles to the gameplay itself feels very similar to OutRun. Sega even has brought back the classic tunes from the first game, in addition to including some new ones. The whole level/tracks system makes a full return in OutRun 2 and is pretty much exactly how it was back in 1986. Unlike other games, OutRun used point-to-point tracks instead of closed circuits. These tracks were fairly short, but making up for this was the fact that there were a few of them connected together with no load times. You also had the option of picking which track you would race on next by driving either left or right at the end of each level. This was the heart of OutRun, and thankfully, none of it has changed in the sequel.
Also making a return are OutRun's classic mission modes, Heart Attack and Time Attack. In Heart Attack, you race against the clock while performing special auto tricks in an attempt to impress your girl, who is riding with you. Time Attack is your standard arcade mode where you try to get past all of the tracks before time runs out. While these classic modes return, Sega has also added new modes of play, the best of which, in my opinion, is Mission Mode. Much like the console versions of Crazy Taxi, OutRun 2 has you completing various tasks like power sliding over marked areas of the track and weaving in between traffic. Overall, there are over 100 of these missions, and as you complete them, you gain points, which can be used to unlock extras in the game, such as new cars, tracks and even new music. Speaking of cars, OutRun 2 features eight fully licensed Ferraris that you can select, from the classic Testarossa to the hot new Enzo.
Rounding out the package is complete head-to-head online multiplayer over Xbox Live for up to eight people. We got a chance to test this out and were pretty impressed with it. There was no noticeable lag in terms of packet loss, and although there was a little bit of a slowdown in the frame rate, this will most likely be ironed out by the final build. The addition of multiplayer really brings back a little bit of the old arcade feel, in addition to giving the title some much-needed replay value.
In regards to gameplay, OutRun 2 is about as simple as you can get in a racing game. The term "pick up and play" was made for games like this, and that is exactly what you get. You can fully master the controls in about five minutes, and once you have done that, you have pretty much mastered the game. The controls themselves offer the standard brake, gas and hand brake for power sliding. Power sliding in the only thing that takes any effort in learning, and even that only takes a few minutes. The game's great sense of speed and online play capabilities certainly help to make it a worthy successor.
Graphically speaking, OutRun 2 is beautiful. The game runs at a blazing 60 fps and is one smooth game. Each of the Ferraris is nicely modeled and features some great looking real-time reflections. The courses themselves look great and still have that classic look and feel of the first game, except with the graphics you have come to expect from Xbox.
Overall, I really enjoyed OutRun 2. It has that classic retro feel, brings back fond gaming memories, and is a fun game, especially when played online with others.
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