Outrun 2: Coast to Coast Review (PS2)
When people discuss their favourite arcade racers from days past you would expect to hear about the likes of Ridge Racer, Daytona and Sega Rally. But none of these are remembered with half as much fondness as Outrun. Upon it’s release in 1986, it was head and shoulders above the rest of the Arcade field, with sumptuous graphics, tremendous music and a bright red sit-down cabinet that looked like a Ferrari Testarossa. After ports to just about every available format were released Sega produced a number of inferior sequels that never quite matched the charm of the original. So when Outrun 2 was announced for the arcade and Xbox fans were understandably nervous about whether this official sequel would meet their high expectations, but thankfully Sega and British Dev-co Sumo digital (who ported the game to Xbox) produced a fantastic 3D update that pleased fans and critics alike.
Unfortunately, the game never managed to turn critical acclaim into big bucks and it failed to make a major impact at retail. One reason could have been due to it’s Xbox exclusivity; in Japan no-one bothered buying Xbox games, in America and Europe gamers already had the visually superior PGR series. So it’s no small surprise to see that Sega have seen sense to expand the potential market with PS2 and PSP versions (Although sadly lacking a ‘Cube edition). It’s the Playstation 2 version we’ve had the pleasure of reviewing here and it has to be said, this port is a minor miracle.
Technically, the PS2 should find it very hard to run anything as smooth as the Arcade and Xbox versions, but we’ve got to hand it to Sumo, they have done a terrific job replicating it on inferior hardware. It still runs at a silky smooth 60 fps with no noticeable drop in draw distance or texture quality so the development team deserves a big pat on the back for squeezing as much juice out of the PS2’s aging architecture as they have. Of course, Outrun has always been a beautiful game, maybe not in the same way as Project Gotham but it’s use of gorgeous scenery to create a more relaxed atmosphere means it gets my vote as the best looking racer to date.
The game itself is still as fun to play as it ever was and has kept the same fork-ridden formula as it’s predecessors. You know the score: race against the clock till you get to the next checkpoint whereby you can choose which track to tackle next. It’s a method that ensures plenty of replay value but beware, Outrun 2006’s Arcade roots are very apparent. There are some extremely tight races between checkpoints, some infuriatingly difficult, and these inevitable difficulty spikes aren’t quite as welcome or needed in the home versions.
Still, the main game still plays like a dream and powersliding your way to victory has never felt sweeter especially on the long, sweeping corners of the first track. In fact, while the powersliding technique still takes a while to master fully, it has been tweaked slightly to make it easier for novice drivers to pull it off with some panache. And it’s now harder to crash your car than ever before, possibly to make it more accessible, meaning you should see a lot more of the tracks earlier on than in the Arcade edition.
There are still things that are In need of further tweaking however, particularly since we have recently been blessed with other great racing titles like Burnout and PGR. While Outrun wouldn’t benefit much from realistic graphics it might be time to update the crash system. It’s not only absurd to see your car fly up in the air as it does (with a flight path that makes Gone in 60 seconds’ finale look realistic) but it is annoyingly slow and means any top speed crash is instantly fatal as you’ll never recover enough time to make it past the next checkpoint. Aside from that, Outrun 2: Coast to Coast is pretty much perfect and absolutely packed with content.
Sumo have also seen fit to give us not one but three editions on one disc, featuring tracks from Outrun 2, Outrun 2 SP and Coast to Coast so there really is enough to keep the most ardent gamer happy. There are also some great extra modes to take your mind off all out racing, if you so wish. The best of these is the unfortunately named Heart Attack mode, which makes a return from Outrun 2. In it your blonde passenger gives sets you a task to complete before you reach each checkpoint, as you accomplish this task you build up her heart meter which adds to your time at the checkpoint. The tasks are nicely varied (and slightly masochistic) such as don’t crash, hit a large beach ball along the road and hit as many cars as you can. There are also Stunt modes, Time Attack options and a more than competent Online mode.
As expected, Outrun 2: Coast to Coast is an absolute joy to play and is a great alternative to the likes of realistic racers such as TOCA, PGR and Gran Turismo. This is definitely a title every PS2 owner should think about buying and is one of the most fun titles so far this year