Thursday, September 6, 2007

Outrun 2

Developer: Sega AM2
Publisher: Sega
Release Date: June 25, 2004
Systems: Xbox (reviewed), Arcade
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In honor of my broken Xbox 360, all this week I'll be going through some old original Xbox games I have lying around.

In a nutshell: The sequel 17 years in the making.

0:01 "Recreating these maneuvers in real life may be potentially dangerous," reads the disclaimer. Someone's a little lawsuit-shy.
0:02 I love the soothing ocean wave sounds on the menu screen. Since the game started in the arcade, let's start with the Arcade mode.
0:03 The mode choices let you "enjoy driving with your lady by your side" or "impress your lady and capture her heart." Also, time trial. Whoo!
0:07 First race is over. I veered left to stay on the easy path and got through three timed sections. I like the subtle rumble that really makes you feel every curve and the insane, easy-to-control power slides. I don't like the persistent engine whine, but it can be turned down in the options.
0:13 Just got done trying heart attack mode, which rewards me for doing things I should do anyway, like passing cars, drifting and avoiding crashes. A nice twist on the basic game, but a bit repetitive.
0:15 You gotta love that beautiful scenery. It's not exactly photo-realistic, but it really gives a sense of place.
0:17 Things I don't like so far: The large speed penalty for bumping other cars; the long, boring straightaways between racing sections, the way there only seem to be a few types of basic turns.
0:24 ARGH! I come within 50 feet of the final goal on the easy path! I even pass the congratulations banner that sits right before the finish. Extremely frustrating. Repeated play definitely helps smooth out those tough turns, though.
0:30 Going down the hard paths is a little harder, but only because they throw more hairpins at your earlier. It's the same set pieces over and over again. Not bad, necessarily, just very old school.
0:31 On to Challenge mode. First I have to drift an insane amount on the first course. Nice way to mix it up, but why is the course empty. It feels remarkably sterile compared to the traffic-filled Arcade mode.
0:33 I like the Zone Runner mode, but I'd like a little more warning as to which zone I'm supposed to drive in before I get there.
0:39 Gotta love Convoy mode, which asks you to maneuver through trucks and buses without crashing. Anyone who's ever been between big rigs on the highway will be able to relate. There's some graphical slowdown here, though.
0:40 Maybe I'm just a wuss, but my hand is cramping from holding down the R trigger to accelerate nearly constantly. Damn you, resistant springs!
0:43 Cone Runner mode is excellent -- like an obstacle course on top of the regular course. It's also good education for how to take turns properly.
0:48 Another boring, empty six car race rounds out the first challenge stage. I don't like having to beat all six challenges to unlock more. Seems too easy to get stuck later, which is never fun.
0:51 Math Mayhem is ridiculous... you have to do simple addition and subtraction as you drive. Major props for having the guts to include it, but I don't see it having lasting value.
0:52 So the music has been mostly catchy, forgettable '80s cheese pop. Lots of wailing guitar, synthesizer, saxophone, etc.. But I have to point out some of the ridiculous lyrics in the song Life Was a Bore: "Driving shows me wonders never seen before. ... city lights and starry skies, sandy beach and forest, I can't wait for more. ... It's destiny that we met, it's a thrill we've been looking for, no one else can lighten up my heart this way." It's all sung so earnestly it's hilarious.
0:59 I continue to be impressed with the variety of challenges available. Max Speed mode is genuinely challenging while Heart Courier is suitably wacky. Adds a lot of potential for replay, given the simplistic course design.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Great controls and lots of variety make up for some very basic course design.

This review based on a used retail copy.

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