OutRun 2 Review - The Next Level

Game Profile

System:
Xbox
Release date:
October 25, 2004
Publisher:
Microsoft
Developer:
AM2/Sumo Digital
Players:
1 - 8
Genre:
Racing
ESRB:
E

OutRun 2

The rebirth of old-school arcade racing.
 


Review by Ken Horowitz (Email)
November 1st 2004

I’ve read other reviews that trash the sound and I honestly have to say I don’t agree with that assertion at all. The musical selection is quite large and fits the game to a tee. Offering updated versions of famous OutRun tunes including Magical Sound Shower, Splash Wave, and Passing Breeze; the sequel features remixed versions of each song as well as a few new musical selections. As an added bonus, you can even unlock the original 1986 versions of the classics! Personally, I have mixed emotions about the new tunes that feature vocal tracks and can’t help but think they’d be more at home in a game like Daytona USA or some a title developed by Sonic Team. The sound effects are standard fare and you can lower them in the options menu if you don’t want your humming engine to wake the neighbors.

While all this is well and good for an arcade game, most gamers today require depth in a console racer and AM2 was gracious enough to add extra modes and a host of unlockables to keep you strapped in your Ferrari for quite some time. Complementing the standard race, players can also choose from time attack and heart attack modes, where you'll ultimately need to impress your lady friend with your driving skills. Although these modes start out being fun for awhile, it's unlikely that you'll be coming back for seconds. Luckily, there’s so much more to the game than what was originally presented in the arcade edition. Without a doubt, OutRun 2’s chewy center can be found in the challenge mode. With 101 different objectives to conquer, it's very likely that you'll spend hours will be spent aplenty in this extensive mode. At first, I thought that it would become an old hat, but I was actually quite surprised at the overall depth and the wholly enjoyable experience. There’s much more here than just the old “beat the clock” or “win the race” options you’re used to. This is an AM2 game, after all, so some sort of wackiness had to be included. In place of typical trials, you’ll find yourself drifting and taking pictures of huge hearts, cutting lasers strung between cars, collecting and depositing hearts on the road; even having to complete multiple courses without getting hit to preserve your hearts. The challenges are insanely fun and the cards you unlock for completing each one with an A or AA rating go towards unlocking more sweet stuff that include new cars, music, mirrored tracks, and even courses from Skud Racer and Daytona 2. Earning a triple A rating also gives you a rare chase card. All your goodies can be viewed in the gallery and can be sorted by stage or card series.

Party Mode is a variation of the aforementioned model, offering a five-challenge tournament which can be enjoyed with up to three other players. Mix the modes around to make things interesting or set a handicap to give less skillful players a fair chance. I’m sure many a gamer’s head will hang in shame when their lady friends school them in the fine art of drifting.

If you’re looking for a challenge right out of the box, OutRun 2 has you covered here too. Play against seven of your friends on Xbox Live in single stage, routes, or a full five stage course race. Anyone Live user can testify how the inclusion of online multiplayer enriches the game, and racers will especially benefit from it. Online sessions are very smooth and the lag is hardly noticeable. While most gamers will probably want to dive right into online competition, you would do well to unlock some stuff first. Alternatively, players without an active Live account can also enjoy the competitive experience by taking advantage of the game's system link feature.

I mentioned earlier that OutRun 2 may be limited in its appeal. Sadly, this is probably true for many younger gamers who have never played the original release. With today's racing installments offering a n extensive selection of courses and deep car customization, AM2’s sequel may seem a bit thin. But players with that mindset need to realize that OutRun 2 is not intended to compete with games like Need for Speed or Midnight Club and shouldn’t be compared to them. A more comparable title would perhaps be Burnout 3: Point of Impact.

Overall, there's a lot of wholesome game content available and OutRun 2 is especially deep for an arcade racer. Whether you're extensively unlocking content or simply bringing a friend to shame online, OutRun 2 offers plenty of replay value and solid gameplay elements. And when you think about it, that’s exactly what made all those great classic, old-school games so enjoyable and compelling to play.

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