Outrun 2 Xbox Review

Seventeen years ago legendary racing was born. When it was released when it was released it was hailed as a classic and is still thought of in the same vain by today’s gamers. The sequel many have waited a lifetime for is finally about to drift around the corner and find itself inside many a Xbox console.

Gameplay

Yes Outrun is back again. It’s been a while but now a new generation of gamers are given a chance to show off their driving skills to the “blonde babe” in the passenger seat beside them. Yes the girl is still in the seat beside you -that has not changed. Infact not much has changed since the first incarnation of the game from all those years ago. You still drive that memorable Ferrari, you still drift around those tight corners, you still rush to make it to the checkpoint before the timer counts down, and you still have lots different routes to choose from. Even the tracks themselves have a familiar feel to them, even with all those polygon and texture upgrades they still have a old-school look and some are instantly recognizable from the game of old.

Infact the whole game is a glorified retro experience. Outrun 2 actually could have been released anytime in the last ten years and still would have been the same game, perhaps not as graphically impressive but the core of the game would have remained the same. Outrun 2 does nothing new, but it does not need to. It does not push the genre to new dizzying heights, it never set out to accomplish that but what it does do it manages to do very well.

Although the guys at Sega or more specifically the guys at Sega’s AM2 division made the core of the game, the job of porting it to Xbox was handled by a UK Dev team called Sumo Digital. Gladly Sumo did not just rest on their laurels and just do a regular port, they have also managed to add a few interesting extras to the game. The full list of modes included in the game are firstly the standard Outrun, Time-Trial and Heart Attack game-modes. Outrun is the main mode in the game that sees you racing through five different destinations starting at Palm Beach and then ending either in Tulip Garden, Metropolis, Ancient Ruins, Imperial Avenue and Cape Way depending on the difficulty you choose. Time-Trial mode is self-explanatory and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Heart-Attack mode sees you driving through traffic, impressing your girl, accumulating hearts as you go and hopefully she will be happy once you cross the finish line! Then there is Sumo’s offering which is named mission mode. This mode sees you complete certain mission objectives and once finished you will be given a grade, you should aim for either A, AA or AAA in this mode. Outrun is also Xbox live enabled, giving you the option to race against 8-players online which should keep you coming back for more as long as your interest in the game lasts.

Being an arcade racer you would not expect Outrun 2 to offer a realistic version of driving but the game still takes a good amount of skill to play. In most modes the time limit is very tight so hitting the grass one too many times or drifting badly around a corner could result in you missing the checkpoint by a matter of seconds. Speaking of drifting I believe it to be one of the most satisfying things a game can let you do. Entering a drift is easy, just tap the brakes and the car will skid around the corner letting you be in full control, dodging anything the comes your way. Correct drifting can be the key to winning or losing a race. It may be overwhelming at first but stick with it and the first time you complete a perfect race it will be worth it, and with over 15 different courses each offering a different graphical and environmental theme you should be a top driver in next to no time.

Graphics

Breathtaking! Perhaps it is one of the best words to describe what you see on the screen as you play the game, but even that word does not do the graphics justice. The graphics look almost arcade perfect! Polygons, textures and lighting are melded together expertly to achieve a premium in game design. You can’t help but admire the reflections on the Ferrari each time you race. The tracks themselves are a showcase to what Microsoft’s console can do when used correctly. Racing at night-time, during the day and at times at early morning each time you will see something different you missed out on last time. The game manages to get more beautiful the more you play it. Whether you race across a suspension bridge, past snowy mountains or dash past the Eiffel Tower you can’t help but be amazed by what you see.

And still all this runs at a rock-solid sixty frames per second!

Sound

The roar of your Ferrari’s engine as you hurtle your chosen car down the road, the squeal of your tyres as you drift around the tight bends. There is no denying that the sound effects in Outrun 2 are amazing, they actually help to immerse you into the game as you play. Nothing seems out of place, everything seems just about as perfect as it can be. However although the sound effects are top class the music in the game will split the gaming community right down the middle.

Richard Jacques remixed songs like Splash Wave, Magical Sound Shower and Passing Breeze from the 1986 version of the game and improved on them for this version, There is no doubt he did a great job but like I said it depends who you are and what year you were born if you will like them or not. Older gamers will fondly remember the old tunes they raced to all those years ago but for younger gamers they will probably be thought of as nothing more than cheap low quality songs, which is a shame really. I personally believe Sega made the right choice by opting for the inclusion of the classic songs as this game is one big trip down memory lane and the music just helps you on your way.

Lifespan

Sadly the ending screen of Outrun 2 comes far too quickly and even if you want to complete it 100% only a few hours of dedicated play is needed. The inclusion of the mission modes add somewhat to the longevity of the game but even its addition can’t hide what is undeniably a short gaming experience. Maybe the urge to shave seconds off your arcade and mission times might give you a few more hours but after about ten, maybe less you should have seen everything the game has to offer. Xbox live will try and captivate you and it is enjoyable to play online as long as your interest lasts. Should the game have been longer? I think so, but if you are an Outrun fan that has been longing for a sequel for years, you should be pleased with what you get!

Overall

I wanted to go through this review without mentioning a game, a game that unintentionally takes some of the gloss and sheen of Sega’s offering, but alas I found it impossible to finish without speaking of it at least once. That game I am taking about is of course Burnout 3. So why did I decided to mention Criterions offering in this review? Well it’s not because I am about to compare the games, they are too different from each other to compare. They may be both arcade racers, but that is where the similarities abruptly end. The reason I will be mentioning both games in a single breath is to offer you readers a simple warning.

If you have just finished Burnout 3 and are looking for something to appease your arcade racer craving, then I cannot stress this following sentence enough. Do not pick up Outrun expecting it to offer you the same entertainment and thrill; Burnout and Outrun sit at two opposite ends of the gaming spectrum. They both offer gamers racing enjoyment but in very different ways; Burnout was made to be a vast environment while Outrun has a more single minded approach, which is better in short bursts.

At a time when some may accuse the once great Sega of “loosing the magic touch”, out comes a game that shows the critics what they can do. It’s a pure pick up and play arcade racer that is a nostalgia-filled dream to play. It brings the original kicking, screaming and screeching into the 21st century.

It may not be filled with unlockables and hundreds of different modes to play as most games today have, but it still manages to be one hell of a lot of fun to play, and after all isn’t that why we play games? Well done Sega (and Sumo).

8.9 out of 10

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