OutRun 2 Xbox
Developed by SEGA AM2/Sumo Digital
Release Date : Out Now
Price : £39.99
The chances are that if you were gaming in the mid to late 1980s then you probably played the original OutRun. Whilst most probably enjoyed this all time classic on the arcade machines my first experience of the game was when a friend paid a visit and loaded the game up on my Sinclair Spectrum 48K. Of course there was a world of difference between the visuals on the Spectrum when compared to the arcade machine but the wonderful game play was still there and very enjoyable and addictive it was too. The original game has made reappearances in all kinds of places since such as in Shenmue II and it's still an enjoyable game to play. Finally though we have a sequel, OutRun 2, and despite the enormous gap between the games, it still retains the old addictive magic that keeps you playing for hours.
Before we go any further a brief explanation about the OutRun games is in order (for the few out there who might not have played the game). Essentially you have to go from the start point and travel through a total of five stages to reach the finish line. What I like about the OutRun games is that you always get to pick your route. At the end of each stage you'll have a choice to either take the road to the left or to the right. If you go to the right you choose the more difficult journey whilst going to the left picks a slightly easier route. Of course if you go left at the end of every stage you're in for an easier time of it whilst veterans who always go to the right will have a more difficult challenge. You can mix it up though and go left at the end of one stage and then go right at the end of another. There are five final checkpoints but there are many more paths to arrive at those final checkpoints. To add tension to the game you only have a certain amount of time to make it to the checkpoint at the end of the stage. If you run out of time it's game over. This is a simplified description of what the game's about but there's nothing difficult about the OutRun games except for having to beat the time limits.
Whilst most would probably have been happy with simply a modern version of OutRun, OutRun 2 offers a lot more than that. The game includes a perfect arcade conversion of the game which is superb but in all honesty it's probably not going go have the longevity of other driving games. After all it's one thing playing on an arcade machine for small durations but when you can just sit in front of the TV and have go after go it's not going to be too long before you finally crack the game. To beef up the game and to add a certain amount of longevity to it several new modes have been added. To begin with the Arcade mode has two additional modes, Heart Attack and Time Trial. In Heart Attack mode you have to try and satisfy your female companion's requests (passing as many cars as possible and doing as many drifts as possible etc.) as well as making it to the end of the checkpoint with time to spare. Time Trial sees you trying to beat a ghost rival as you race between the checkpoints.
The OutRun Challenge is where you'll spend most of your time in the single player part of the game. You can have OutRun Races against 7 AI opponents if you want to. Also under OutRun Races you'll find Time Trial challenges where you have to beat the ghost driver. There are also Party Missions for 1-4 players where you'll take turns to achieve the best score performing various challenges. The biggest addition though is the OutRun Mission mode that contains 101 missions that are split into groups to form stages. Each mission has various challenges for you to pass. These challenges range from knocking cones over to driving in the right coloured zone and driving through a convoy of buses. There is even one challenge where you drive through numbers (some have a mathematical symbol by them such as a - or a +) the idea is that the numbers form a sum and that you have to work it out as you drive along. At the end of a stage you'll be given a choice of answers and you have to drive through the correct one. In order to pass a mission you'll need to score an A, AA or AAA. The one addition that will please most gamers is the full support for Xbox Live which allows you to race and have Trials online amongst other things and it all works very nicely.
The handling of the cars is all important and the developers have done a superb job as the handling feels arcade perfect and is instantly enjoyable. The control scheme will be familiar to anyone who has played a racing game on the Xbox with the left analogue stick controlling the steering and the right and left triggers being used for the accelerate and braking functions. Mastering the drifts is all important but because the handling is spot on it's not a difficult task and the game is all the more addictive for it. There are 8 different Ferrari models in the game. These models range from the Dino 246 GTS to the Enzo Ferrari. You can also choose which colour you'd like the car to be in (not an exciting inclusion I know but many complain when it's not there). Each car is rated as suitable for either a novice, intermediate or professional driver and they have three characteristics that are Acceleration, Handling and Speed which will help you decide which model you prefer.
Graphically the game is arcade perfect, it's as simple as that. The game doesn't have the visual quality of games such as Project Gotham Racing 2 but when it's identical to the arcade game it was based on you can't really fault it. The frame rate is absolutely superb and there is no slowdown at all. As you drive through the different stages you'll encounter all kinds of weather and the weather effects are very good indeed. You really feel like you are racing through different territories rather than simply driving down a winding road where the scenery is insignificant. The car models look good and Ferrari enthusiasts will be delighted that the models included are visually accurate representations of the real things. There are three camera angles in OutRun 2. You can use the classic behind and slightly elevated viewpoint or you can have a kind of in-car view or if you want you can have the bumper/fender view where you can't see your car at all. Whilst I prefer the classic view it's great to see that you can change to another camera angle if you wish.
Thankfully there are no problems for deaf gamers. Of course there could have been a problem with some of the game modes, especially the ones where orders are given as you drive along such as the Heart Attack mode or the OutRun Missions. Thankfully though the instructions appear in text in a speech bubble that appears over your female companion's head. As a result of this, the game is absolutely fine for deaf gamers. All other information in the game is shown in text too, which is excellent. When your time limit has reached the final ten seconds there is a beeping sound which is supposed to attract your attention to the fact that you're running out of time but as the time countdown is always in the centre of the top part of the screen, and therefore is always visible, there's no problems.
It's been a very long wait for a sequel to one of the great game classics but OutRun 2 is a sequel that definitely does not disappoint. The only complaint that might be raised against the game is that of longevity. If you're an OutRun expert then even the additional modes that have been included are not going to keep you as busy as many other driving games on the Xbox would (such as PGR 2 or Burnout 3). That said though any fan of OutRun is going to want this sequel and they will be very impressed with it as it's an immaculate arcade conversion with some well thought out extras. Even if you've never played the original OutRun, it's definitely worth picking up because it's so addictive and you find yourself having 'just one more go' again and again.
Game Rating: 8.8/10
An excellent arcade conversion that has had some entertaining extra modes added to provide an extra challenge. You can even play online too.
Thankfully there are no problems for deaf gamers.