by Joseph Barron
reviewed on X360
Drift into a sunny arcade classic
OutRun has long been one of SEGA’s classic arcade racers alongside an impressive collection like Super Hang On, Crazy Taxi, Daytona and SEGA Rally. What makes it stand out from the rest of this mammoth portfolio is its complete polish and precision. This is one series that SEGA clearly still cares about deeply.
The latest title in the series is Outrun Online Arcade, an Xbox Live Arcade and PSN game which takes its content from the PS2 and PSP game, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast. The main gameplay mode is the quintessential OutRun Mode, in which you race to the goal, choosing your route through the various stages via forks in the road as you go. You don’t race for the top position; rather it is about racking up points by being as stylish as possible, drifting and slipstreaming your way through, so long as you keep hitting the checkpoints to extend your time. It really is a fantastically pure arcade experience, made all the more enjoyable by near perfect controls. Once you have learnt how to drift (brake into a corner to step out the rear, then power around the bend) you will be looking flashy in no time.
Mad, but it knows it
Alongside this familiar style of gameplay you will also find the completely bonkers Heart Attack Mode, which returns from previous OutRuns. Here your girlfriend (who always sits in your passenger seat) will shout out objectives for you to complete as you race through the stages. These start off normal enough (pass cars, drift more) but eventually go completely insane, asking you to ‘hit the ghosts’ or ‘collect the stars’. This objective based driving can be a huge amount of fun, so long as you don’t take the game seriously and start questioning what you are actually doing! Luckily OutRun knows that it is completely absurd and you will never be under the illusion that it takes itself seriously.
The last single-player mode is a relatively tame Time Attack Mode which removes traffic and objectives, but you can have tuned versions of the cars if you wish. If you are after more of a challenge you can go for 15 Course Continuous Time Attack, which removes the option to drive your own route though the zones and forces you to play them all in one go. You can also play OutRun Mode this way if you wish.
Online play can come across as a bit limited as it only offers unranked matches and there are no leaderboards for competitive racing online. On the other hand it is still great fun to race against other real players and keeping these races casual helps to maintain the OutRun spirit of pure fun. The only tiny issue with the online is that you have to do some menu-digging to get to the specific leaderboard you are looking for. The game displays local leaderboards at the end of single-player events, when it would be much more interesting to see your friends’ scores instead.
Superb value for money
The overall amount of content is pretty good considering that this is an 800 Points XBLA game and larger games on the service are going for 1200 Points these days. You get 10 Ferraris right off the bat and all of the courses from OutRun 2006. Unfortunately the unlockable OutRun 2 SP courses haven’t made it into this version and neither have the extra Ferraris. However, this certainly takes nothing away from the outstanding value for money.
Graphically this is definitely one of the best games on XBLA and PSN. The visuals from Coast 2 Coast have been beefed-up to make sure that they manage the transition from PS2 to the modern HD systems. The cars in particular look fantastic and the gorgeous course designs remain intact, complete with rolling hills, blue skies and shimmering lakes. Unfortunately, there is some frame rate slowdown when the screen gets a bit busier in Heart Attack mode, but this doesn’t detract from the experience too much.
Magical Sound Shower
Of course, you can’t talk about OutRun without mentioning the truly legendary soundtrack. All the music you know and love has made the jump to the new version, so you can look forward to motoring along to old favourites like Magical Sound Shower, Splash Wave and Risky Ride. It is a bit of a shame that the original 16-bit versions of these songs weren’t included (they were unlockable in OutRun 2006) but the modern versions still provide that same brilliant nostalgia.
Outrun Online Arcade is a triumph that shows just how great XBLA and the PSN can be if the downloadable medium is used in the right way. Series fans may be a little disappointed that the majority of the content has been used in previous iterations of the franchise, but the fact remains that speeding along in your red Testarossa with a hot blonde by your side will never ever get old.
No Pros and Cons at this time