Game Review: Outrun Online Arcade
Release: April 15, 2009
Developer: Sumo Digital
Available Platforms: XBLA (Also PSN in Europe only)
Players: 1 (Up to 6 Online)
MSRP: 800 MS Points / £7.99/€9.99 on PS3
ESRB Rating: E
This is an update of the 2006 Xbox release of Outrun 2, (which was itself based on two Outrun Arcade cabinets by Sega). The graphics have been polished up and all the cars are available immediately making it game very accessible.
Taking control of one of a selection of Ferrari’s the player races through various branching zones trying to make checkpoints within the time limit and ending up in one of five finish lines. All the while, the hot babe on your arm rewards you with adoration when you perform well and derision when you fail. You can also do time trials and heart attack mode, in which you’re asked to drive in specific ways (hitting no traffic or staying within colored lines for example). There’s also a basic online mode in which up to six people can head for the finish, either with collision on or off.
The best part of this shallow but shiny racer is the drifting mechanics. Take a corner at speed and it’s fairly easy to swing your car into a long and gratifying drift which not only looks and feels the business, but shaves valuable seconds off your time and saves you having to slow down. With collision off in multplayer and six gorgeous looking Ferrari’s all arcing in unison round a hairpin bend it’s hard to remember a time when racing felt as fun or stylish. The graphics are crisp and colorful taking you through a variety of different backdrops, from Niagra Falls to a Shuttle launch-pad, all beautiful and exhilarating to cruise past. It doesn’t take long to reach one of the branching finish lines but starting again for one more go feels natural and compelling.
The original Xbox version, rated as one of Edge’s top 100 games of all time, was released with additional modes, some of which have been trimmed for this XBLA (and PSN in Europe only) version. The most obvious omission is the original’s extensive series of challenges. This increased the longevity allowing you to daisy-chain unlocks (Cars, tunes and more challenges) in a series of achievements. There’s also, like the original, no local multiplayer mode, which is a shame. However it’s worth remembering that for 800 points rather than the 1200 most classic Xbox games command you’re still getting most of the game for two thirds the cost. I personally enjoyed Outrun Online Arcade so much I picked up Outrun 2 on Xbox for $2.91 (£1.99) in a bargain bin, so if this loss of extra modes has you fuming, you can find it on eBay or elsewhere for a very reasonable price. The XBLA version wins over the old, for me at least, due to the polished graphics, immediate accessibility of all cars and most importantly the chance to play with friends or strangers in a 360 online race. There are general leader-boards available, but Sumo have not yet gathered that most of us only care about our friends fastest times.
In summation for 800 points you get a flashy, slick, hellishly addictive arcade racer. It’s not going to win any awards for depth, complexity or originality, but as someone who rarely gets much out of racers other than the Burnout series it’s got me back into feeling the need for speed, and the drifting is absolutely second to none. It’s closer to Ridge Racer and Daytona than Gran Turismo and Grid, but if that’s what you like then at this price you’d be crazy not to bag this classic.