Now available for just twenty bucks, OutRun2 is a great value for fans of old-school arcade racing.

User Rating: 8.2 | OutRun2 XBOX
In 1986, Sega released the original OutRun, which became an arcade racing classic. The gameplay was straightforward and fun--your only objective was to get to the next checkpoint before time ran out--and the game presented itself with tremendous visual and sonic style. It put you behind the wheel of a Ferrari-esque convertible and had you drive through environments that were, for the most part, bright and colorful riffs on various beautiful California landscapes. It was all so impressive for its time that you could practically feel the wind in your hair. Almost twenty years later, Sega has released OutRun2, which updates the original game's simplicity in a few relatively minor but interesting ways and does an outstanding job of capturing the visual and sonic sensibilities of the earlier game. Fans of the original, or old-school arcade racing in general, will find a lot to like in OutRun2, especially considering it's now available at a budget price. OutRun2 has a bunch of licensed Ferraris you can drive, though not all are available at the start. There are some differences between the cars in terms of top speed, acceleration and handling, but none of them behave remotely like their real-world counterparts. This is an arcade racer through and through, with a heavy emphasis on drifting around tight corners and no realistic wrecks. Hitting a wall at high speed won't result in any sort of damage to your car. You'll just flip wildly through the air and then land back on the road, though this does cost you a few seconds, and in OutRun2, every second counts. The objective is straightforward but that doesn't mean the game is easy. There's a considerable amount of skill involved in getting through each course with the best possible time, and true mastery of the game is actually quite difficult. There's an arcade mode here that plays out very much like the classic game. You start on a beach course and have to make your way through five courses in all, choosing between forks in the road at the end of each one and ending up at one of five possible destinations. The environments are gorgeous and, as in the original OutRun, they place style ahead of realism. Your trip might take you through snowy mountains, deserts filled with Egyptian pyramids, and even the French capital. In the standard arcade mode, your male driver is accompanied by a silent female passenger, just like in the original game. And, because nothing beats driving around with a nagging passenger, OutRun2 also offers a Heart Attack mode, in which your companion is far more vocal. She constantly makes demands on you like "Drift more!" and "Don't hit anything!" Successfully doing what she says wins her affection, and these challenges provide an enjoyable additional layer of complication to the game. There's also the OutRun Mission mode which features 101missions (though not nearly so many mission types), ranging from the traditional to the very bizarre, and from the easy to the extremely hard. One mission type has you trying to knock over blue cones while avoiding yellow ones. Another requires you to add and subtract numbers and then drive through the gate with the correct answer, while yet another has you remembering a sequence of fruit. Completing these missions unlocks additional cars, songs, and tracks. Some of them are enjoyable, while others can be an exercise in frustration. In general, though, it's a nice alternative set of content to the arcade and Heart Attack modes. The original OutRun was noteworthy for its audio style as well as its visual style, giving you a choice of three summery tunes. Splash Wave, Passing Breeze and Magical Sound Shower make a comeback here (several comebacks, actually, if you count all the unnecessary remixes), and they sound as great as ever, providing very fitting accompaniment to the game's lush graphical presentation. There are some additional tunes as well, though unfortunately most of them just don't jive with the game's style very well. The game sounds fine otherwise, though. The effects of engines revving, tires skidding and so forth suit the onscreen action quite nicely. At its heart, OutRun2 isn't much more than a great-looking update of the classic game. The gameplay incorporates the drift racing techniques that are so common in more recent arcade racers, and the Mission and Heart Attack modes add some variation to the basic game, but anyone who comes to it looking for something deeper or more realistic will be disappointed. OutRun2's fidelity to the spirit of the original isn't a bad thing, though. On the contrary, it's quite impressive to see just how well the makers of OutRun2 have captured the sunny, idealistic feeling of the earlier game. Now available for just twenty bucks, OutRun2 is a great value for fans of old-school arcade racing.