Anyone who has been gaming more than a decade has probably run into Outrun at some stage during their game time. It may have been on the megadrive, master system or even the original arcade game but there is no doubting that it will go down as one of the most classic and memorable racing games of all time. AM2 were so proud of their creation and the fact that a lot of people loved it for what it was that until recently they were reluctant to do a sequel. Seventeen years later AM2 gave in and Outrun 2 hit the arcade machines. Now it is time for the home version of the game, exclusively on the Xbox console system and despite the fact it was not done by the original developers, it is still a great racing game.
In terms of game modes, Outrun 2 is really a homage to the original game. The arcade game is a complete copy of the original title with updated graphics and a bunch of new cars to drive. It may not be the most original, but the gameplay is as good as it was all those years ago. For those of you who have not played the original game (shame on you!), the game tasks you with reaching checkpoints before the time runs out. At certain points on the track, the game splits in two, which way you go depends which area you travel through next and different routes have different degrees of difficulty. There is sixteen different ways to finish the arcade game, thirty two if you count going backwards in the time trial modes.
In addition to the original arcade mode, there is a brand new addition known as the heart attack mode and as the name implies, the aim is to give someone heart palpitation's. In the case of this game a young woman needs cheering up. As you drive through the arcade locations not only are you racing against the time but have to collect love hearts from your passenger. These are gained by performing what they want you to do such as not crashing into other cars or sliding around long corners. This is the mode that most people will stick with in the arcade port section of the game as it provides a bit more longevity and keeping up with the girl provides more of a challenge rather then just avoiding other vehicles.
However to add even more replay value and longevity to the title Sumo Digital, the developers, have added a brand new mission mode with 101 missions to complete and to continue the homage to Outrun the original, have built the mission progression around the map used in the arcade game. Initially you can only select one path but like the other mode, more paths will open up as you complete stages. To fully complete the game you have to complete each stage however. Tasks can range from gaining a certain amount of hearts, to racing in particular areas of a circuit. As you progress through tasks your rank goes up, an A is the minimum requirement, with AAA being the best. As you progress through you unlock new things such as music and cars to use in the game as well as a lot of collecting cars which seem a little pointless.
As mentioned before you have a variety of cars to play around with, but they are only from the one manufacturer. Considering that manufacturer is the famous prancing horse of Ferrari then it's not a major issue. Not only this but you have access to some of Ferrari's most famous cars. Cars such as the Ferrari F50, F40, GTO 328 and even the Enzo are all playable. The game offers three camera angles, in the car (the dash is not rendered), bumper cam and behind the car. For some reason they have decided to leave out a rear view option and considering there is multiplayer in the game this is a major flaw.
Cars are divided into three categories, Novice, Intermediate and Professional which is basically based on how hard they are to drive. It tends to be the case that the faster the car, the tougher it is to reach those checkpoints. The cars are immaculately detailed. Details such as the F40 engine viewable through the rear grill in sunlight show just how much detail Suzuki and his team put into the game giving it a real labor of love feeling. They physics of the real cars have mostly been thrown at the window with the major focus on sliding and high speed racing. You can drift easily in this game, by tapping the brake while turning at high speed, not doing so is definitely going to end up game over with the time run out or the female passenger not happy with your moves.
The game also has a strong multiplayer component and does support the Xbox Live service. Up to eight players can race and the host has the option to set a number of different restrictions for the race such as a route or particular car model. The Outrun mode can be played, however you can't all race in different directions unfortunately. Whichever way the current leader chooses is the way the game forces you to race, giving a great advantage to the current leader at each checkpoint. One big problem with the multiplayer especially online is that you can't turn collisions off and when lag becomes a factor this can be incredibly frustrating, making a lag free game pretty much the only way to get a decent game.
The environments featured throughout the game are all unique and stunning. Only in Outrun and Outrun 2 can you be racing in alpine snow capped mountains and a few minutes later be driving through a harsh, arid desert. Despite the fact the game is not set in any particular location in the world you will notice various landmarks featured throughout such as the coliseum in Italy, Eiffel Tower and the Arc De Triumphe.
The visuals of the game as expected are impressive and the game maintains a stable frame rate from start to finish. The characters in the cars also animate, with the girl offering a juicy slap to the side of the drivers head should he flip the car or hit a wall. The driver will casually lean his arm out the window until you reach high speed or begin to drift, giving them a human effect. The music is also great with catchy tunes on offer and more to unlock while the voice acting is what you typically get in a SEGA arcade game..
Outrun 2 may have taken seventeen years to be released but the wait was definitely worth it. The way the developers of both the arcade game and this Xbox port have gone about retaining the heritage of the series truly adds to the game. It really is a homage to one of the best racing games of all time, and that's what makes it such a great game.
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