Outrun Online Arcade Xbox Live, PSN Review
The OutRun series is fairly unique amongst its peers in the racing genre. It’s described as a “driving game” by its creator as opposed to a racing game and it follows a point-to-point racing system rather than laps around a circuit. However, with a limited selection of cars by just one manufacturer and only 15 courses in each game, each instalment comes with a greater feeling of similarity.
OutRun Online Arcade then, to give it its full title, heads onto Xbox Live Arcade in the form of what’s essentially OutRun 2 SP. Just like in the arcade game, everything is unlocked from the start, and there are fewer modes than people might have been expecting. There’s no mission mode here – it’s the bare basics of OutRun designed for arcade style gaming and multiplayer thrills.
The main mode, OutRun, sees you competing with other racers to get to any one of five goals within the quickest time. Turning left or right at the end of each stage determines which route you take through the game’s 15 courses, and with changing scenery and increasing difficulty, you’ll soon find your favourite stages for drifting through and admiring the sights. This main mode will be where you spend most of your time, either in 5 course bursts or the 15 stage endurance mode, where you race through every course one after another. Dodging traffic, drifting and slipstreaming will all help you each points, increase your speed and ultimately prevail as the winner.
This structure also forms the basis for the multiplayer aspect of the game. Players can choose from a set goal to reach before the race starts (therefore blocking other routes off), or have the first racer to each goal pick the next route. The 15 stage endurance mode is also available online, for those who want the stiffest test of their OutRun skills. Tuned cars come into play online, which provide higher speeds but are trickier to handle. They also feature in the game’s Time Trial mode. Pick a car, pick your transmission and car type (normal or tuned) and race. Simple racing, which is what the game’s about.
A slight departure from this comes in the returning Heart Attack mode, whereby you need to satisfy your girlfriend’s requests as she barks orders at your from the passenger seat. “I wanna go far away!” she’ll shout, before seconds later exclaiming “How far are you taking me?!” Objectives in this mode include drifting as much as possible, passing as many cars as you can, hitting cones or driving through certain marked sections of the track. It’s an entertaining diversion from the more focused OutRun and Time Trial modes, and will also test your driving ability quite comprehensively.
In the transition to the 360 the game has certainly had a makeover, and it looks stunning at times. Crisp and detailed car models, vibrant and varied courses and a rich colour palette that stands out among other games on the system. Downsides? There are very few, but some may feel disappointed by the relatively basic selection of game modes and the fact that everything is unlocked from the start. There’s little incentive to keep playing once you’ve seen everything once aside from besting your course records and competing online. There are also fewer songs to choose from before a race, although how much this bothers you will vary and is only a cosmetic gripe.
It should be noted that there’s a bug online that can seriously affect some races. Cars have been known to get stuck on the start line, and once they do start moving, invariably end up falling through the track and floating through the sky. Other problems in a similar vein seem liable to strike at any time and at random. It’s annoying, but relatively uncommon, and otherwise the multiplayer races are smooth, competitive and enjoyable. Don’t be surprised to have to wait a while to find some races though.
At 800 points OutRun Online Arcade is a very reasonable price for a highly polished and entertaining game. Series fans will get a lot out of it, especially the multiplayer and challenging Achievements, while others might want to consider whether the number of modes will provide them with enough mileage for their money. More like this please, SEGA.