Sega has breathed new life into their 1986 arcade blockbuster, OutRun. With the release of OutRun2 for the Xbox, all of the addictive game play of the original is back, but in a far more modern package and without having to constantly feed tokens into a slot. Graphics and sound capabilities have obviously changed in 18 years, and this is readily apparent in OutRun2. 2D sprites are of course a thing of the past - OutRun2 uses the powerful Xbox console to render great looking 3D cars and environments to race through.
My usual interest in racing games runs towards the more realistic, simulation types. This is obviously not the case with OutRun2, though. While I normally prefer the complexity of a reality-based simulation, I found that the arcade simplicity of OutRun2 kept me engrossed for hours. As is required for an arcade game to be successful, there is very little learning curve initially, but it draws you in by getting progressively more difficult. I spent quite a bit of time early on simply trying to master the patented OutRun four wheel slide. I'm still not convinced it's any faster to turn that way versus controlling your entry speed into the turn, but it sure is a blast! I usually find the console controllers detrimental to having enough control of the car to drive it well, but the easily manageable slide turn negates that disadvantage. I did find, however, that I preferred the chase view over the first person view because it made it much easier to manage the slide through the turns.
The cars available for racing run the gamut of eight Ferrari offerings, from the Dino 246 GTS all the way up to the top-of-the-line Enzo. They're very attractively modeled, and sound fantastic under full throttle. After having tried all of them, I can't honestly say it makes much of a difference which you choose. Differences between them are pretty subtle, and this simply isn't a game in which subtle differences will be all that noticeable. There's no damage modeling in the game, so you won't have to worry about scratching and denting them up.
So, great looking, great sounding, and not overly complex. No weapons, no performance boosts, and only one special move. It seems very simplistic and retro, doesn't it? Well, yes! That's the appeal of it. Anyone can pick up a controller and, if not necessarily master this game, certainly be somewhat competitive very quickly. No worries about tire pressures, shock rates, which combination of button presses to use for exotic moves, or whether there's a short cut coming up. There's none of that - it's the ultimate "arrive and drive." That, my friends, is the appeal of arcade games, and OutRun2 is the epitome of arcade racers. Make it to the checkpoints before time runs out, decide at the end of each segment whether you want to branch to the harder or easier side, and don't look back. If you get a chance in the course of a race to look at some of the scenery, more the better.
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