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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

OutRun 2 (XBox)


By Michael Palisano

Sega's sequel to their legendary arcade classic, OutRun 2 takes gamers on an exciting ride through many exciting levels. Like the original OutRun, this is a straightforward arcade racer with easy to learn pick up and play mechanics that let you jump right in the action. Visually, OutRun 2 is thoroughly modern with excellent light-sourcing, smooth controls and silky smooth gameplay featuring intuitive controls and a speedy frame-rate. Far from being a trip down Memory Lane, the game also includes thoroughly modern features such as bonus modes and Xbox Live support. OutRun2 is a worthy sequel to the original that mixes the simplicity of the original game with some excellent modern updates to create a solid game racing fans shouldn't miss.

AM2, Sega's renowned arcade division has taken a trip down memory lane with the excellent OutRun 2 for the Xbox. While the graphics are much slicker, the basic feel and gameplay mechanics of the first game remain intact, though with some welcome changes and additions. These range from seemingly minor to major changes that add to the game's depth. Instead of featuring just a single car, players can now select from up to eight licensed Ferrari vehicles. There are four available initially, with the others unlockable as you progress through. This conversion is excellent and expands on the original release by including several modes of play including standard Arcade Mode and a new Challenge mode. OutRun 2's Arcade mode mirrors the original game in pace and look, with colorful transitions between stages. Your objective here is to clear the stages before the timer runs out, which can be quite challenging depending on the difficulty settings. As in the classic OutRun series, once you near the end of a stage, the road splits into two paths where you can decide which side of the road and stage you'll go to next. OutRun 2 makes the decision a bit easier this time around by including road signs indictating what the stages are. The arcade mode is quite a thrill-ride and it's addictive simplicity makes it a joy to play. The game also includes the usual Time Attack mode and some interesting modes where you can compete against another car head-to-head, or race downloaded ghost racers from Xbox Live. Like the original title, this simple mode is incredibly fun and the pick up and play mechanics means it should hold up well with quite some longevity.

Another big change to the series is the new Heart Attack mode where you compete in a series of mini-games. In this mode, you are trying to 'impress' your lady by performing special moves or tasks such as drifting for an extended period, avoiding contact with other vehicles, maintaining a set speed or driving in certain lanes. As you complete these tasks, your heart meter grows and so does your ranking, but you lose hearts when you fail to reach the requirements. Building on this idea is the Challenge mode, where you can play in more than 100 different mini-games. It's not as easy as it sounds, and some of the mini-games are incredibly challenging and will require multiple attempts to beat. A good hint: you might want to try a different car if you find one of these games frustrating. These mini-games can become quite addictive in their own right and makes this mode an excellent addition to OutRun2. When you reach the higher "A" or "AAA" rankings, you have completed the stage, and then unlock additional items such as new levels, music, vehicles and artwork. Players can also compete against one another using the Party Mode, and also using the Xbox Live feature. These multiplayer modes give OutRun2 an entirely new level of challenge and excitement to the experience, and mastering all these techniques definitely adds to the game's replay value significantly.

While the classic OutRun feel is evident throughout, Sega hasn't let the gameplay atrophy and has instead applied what it has learned in the intervening 15 years. When you play OutRun 2, you'll definitely feel the influence of Sega's other arcade racers such as Daytona USA in the way the cars handle. Playing the game is a pure joy thanks to the slick, intuitive controls that make steering, drifting, and other driving techniques easy to pull off. Controlling the vehicle is a snap and it's a pure joy to play the game once you hit the higher speeds, evading traffic while keeping your eye on the road. The racing isn't realistic, and your car doesn't take damage or degrade when you crash. The drifting is surprisingly simple, yet incredibly fun to perform. OutRun 2's controls definitely have that classic feel very much in evidence, giving it an excellent pick up and play mechanic. However, the fact that there are now 8 cars to choose from means that each one has subtle differences in handling and top-speed that adds to the depth somewhat. However, these new vehicles are very smooth and responsive, making the game a pure experience that doesn't mess too much with the original's classic feel. The game's speediness and superficial controls offer a pleasant mix of classic OutRun, mixed with the frenetic energy of Crazy Taxi, to make one of the more enjoyable arcade racers on the market.

OutRun 2's excellent game's production values make it instantly accessible with bright, crisp graphics that make for an inviting experience. Fans of the original game will be happy to learn that many of classic hallmarks remain such as the famous end screen with the small car driving on the map remain. The small touches, like the color and lighting transitions between stages remain, though now they've been enhanced with modern touches such as lens flare to give them a contemporary feel. OutRun 2's crisp graphics create some very impressive racing environments ranging from snow-capped mountains, to forests, through deserts and even a few classic stage updates. The game also now includes night courses and some real-world locations, such as Paris and Rome, to add to the game's realism. An incredibly smooth frame rate means the action glides by and the realistic renderings give the courses and cars a realistic appearance throughout. In another retro touch, three of the original OutRun music tracks, 'Passing Breeze', 'Magical Sound Machine' and, 'Splash Wave' also make a return appearance, and the slightly updated tracks should make classic gamers happy. There are also several new tracks and some unlockable remixes available as well later on in the game. Overall, OutRun 2's production values are superb with an excellent mix that evokes the classic title's trademark elements while updating them with modern effects.

In the end, it's this combination of old and new that makes OutRun 2 so appealing, especially for gamers old enough to remember the original game. Sega has made enough concessions to new technology that the game feels fresh and modern. The sleek, modern visuals are sharp and crisp and the gameplay screams by at an incredibly smooth frame rate. However, there are many elements, such as the classic music, car handling and some graphical elements that will definitely create some nostalgic twinges. The enhancements, such as the Challenge and Heart Attack modes add to the game's replay value immensely but don't feel out of place in the game. While many developers go too far, or don't go far enough when creating revivals, this sequel effectively balances these two approaches. OutRun 2's pick and play simplicity makes it an ideal title for those looking for a quick adrenaline fix, while the game's extra modes add to it's longevity. This is excellent title strikes just the right balance between old and new. Most importantly, the game is loads of fun from the moment you plug it in but also quite a bit deeper and more challenging than you'd expect. This is an excellent revival and succeeds on all fronts. Sega deserves credit for making OutRun 2 such an excellent example of how to update a classic for modern audiences.

Grade: B+

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