Total addiction!!!

User Rating: 9.4 | OutRun2 XBOX
In the days of NFS:Underground & Burnout 3, (both games that I liked very much), Outrun 2 rides in on a wave of old school freshness. Who doesn't remember playing this game at the arcade, just trying to get to that next stage & see what locale you would end up in next. And of course, impressing your girlfriend along the way. If you played the original, (and I'm assuming everyone on the free planet has), then you will feel right at home with this game. If you think that a straight up checkpoint to checkpoint arcade racer couldn't be fun or have legs on a home console, then stop thinking right now & procure yourself a copy of Outrun 2. Yes, the main mode of the game is the arcade mode. You are getting an arcade perfect mode here. Get in your cool Ferrari & drive very, very fast to get through 5 legs of racing. Arcade mode is set up like a pyramid. After you clear a "section" or leg of the race, you can choose to go right or left on the freeway to take different paths. There are 15 different paths in all, & they vary in difficulty. If you take all lefts, you will be taking the easy route. If you take all rights, then you will be experiencing the hard path. And of course any combination in between. This is a great mode for a quick pick up & play buzz, & a good place to bone up on your Rico Suave driving skills. Also within Arcade mode is Heart attack mode where you try to impress your woman by driving silky smooth. Also a pretty fun mode, (your girlfriend will b-slap you if you don't do well), along with a Time Trial mode where you try to beat a ghost car. The real meat of the offline game seems to be the challenge mode. Noobs may want to head here first whereas this is where you will truly begin to hone those skills that make you the Don Juan DeMarco that you are. There are 101 challenges that you will be graded on. E being the worst, (you're sucking like a gay mosquito), or AAA, (you are too cool for school), with cards being opened up in a gallery upon completion. These cards can be anything from Car cards with stats & new cars, to total piles of crap like a picture of a toddler "driver outfit". Challenges vary from winning the race to completing specific instructions from your girlfriend on the fly, (stay in this lane, don't hit anything else), to the truly mind boggling, (taking pictures while skidding around a corner at 170 mph has to be one of the wilder things I've done in a driving game for a while) . There is just something so incredibly fun about this mode, and it is here where the addiction of this game sets in. If I do this challenge just 500 more times, I know I can get good enough to get that AAA rating!!! Online is very fun as well & much like the offline mode, it is overflowing with options & gaming goodness. Up to 8 people can participate online & from what I have seen so far, it plays as well as the offline mode with no noticable drops in framerate. I won't go into all the online options. If you can do it offline, you can basically do it on. The online options definately offer up some legs to the game as you will want to compete with real idiots once you are done beating the computerized idiots. On to the technical portion of the show! Controls are sublime & oh so buttery that it makes me long for the days of yore when just turning left and right was good enough. Right trigger is gas, left is brake. Black button changes view, (you have 3 options, all very usable), & you can use 2 additional buttons for gear up & down if you choose manual transmission. Simple huh? To powerslide, you let off the gas, tap the break & then get right back on the gas. What's so cool is that you can actually control these powerslides, (even though when you powerslide, you basically throw your car completely sideways), & you can maintain a powerslide for a ridiculous amount of time. Nothing puts a smile on my face like powersliding around a bend & somehow steering through traffic to pass 3 or 4 chumps! Mmmm, that's tasty gaming!!! Graphics are excellent. As much as I liked Burnout 3's 8kazillion particles flying in every direction when you crash, this game is aesthetically better. Are there huge crashes with car parts flying south for the winter? No. Your car does not show any signs of damage at all, (what developers must go through to get the coveted Ferrari license), and your car handling will not degrade in any way. Again, arcade aesthetics here folks. When you crash, your car will flip in the air a couple of times & miraculously land back on the track, facing the direction you want to go in. But what this game does have is photo-realistic environments, incredible weather effects, (the low hanging fog that sits right above the top of your car is inspiring), sun glare that will make you wince, day & night cycles & of course all the G-whiz effects that you would expect to see in racing games, (real time reflections on the cars are probably some of the best I have seen in a racing game), & possibly some normal mapping on the roads. You also have traffic that ranges from light to heavy, with many different vehicle types. And all of this at a rock solid framerate. I have no idea how many frames this game is pulling, but it is fast, & it is consistent. The Ferrari models are drool-worthy, & you have many to choose from. Some of my faves are the Spyder, (of course), & the GTO. I believe there are 14 cars in all in the game, but do not hold me to that. The soundtrack really makes me tingle with old school nostalgia. There are no custom soundtracks here, you get the classic Outrun tunes & some other remixes that are actually pretty decent. Think Ridge Racer 4 meets Sonic the Hedgehog & you are on the right track, (ha, track! Get it?). Is it just me or do some of these songs have really perverted innuendo in their titles??? The cars all sound fairly the same, but it is a nice throaty sound & the directional output is great when you are passing other vehicles. If you were on the fence about buying this game, I would say go for it. With all the modes, addictive gameplay, great graphics & online capability, this game should keep you busy until your next big addiction hits, (November 9th anyone?), and all of this at a $40 pricepoint. Honestly, this could have been a full priced game, but thanks to Sega, (SEGA!), for releasing what is probably one of the better "niche" games I have played. This one probably has sleeper hit written all over it because it has not been hyped through the ozone, but it deserves recognition & acclaim regardless. This game is chocolate covered crack but, uh, like with cars.