It's hard to believe that Outrun has been around since 1986. It always conjures up memories of my old Amiga back in the early days of gaming.
It was with some hesitation that I jumped into Outrun Online Arcade, due to some negative experiences with old games being rehashed. Something about playing an old game on new equipment, but with the same old tired graphics really doesn’t do it for me. All the more impressed I was when jumping into Outrun to find that the entire game has been given a solid work over, and is certainly worth a look for those familiar with the series, and those who are not.
Outrun is much like the original in many ways. The story line essentially is about you racing to win over the girl sitting next to you in your immaculate Ferrari. Certainly no awards for coming up with a clever story, but this game is a true arcade racer with no qualms about being just that. In Outrun, you have the opportunity to race with one of ten licensed Ferraris.
Each of the cars looks great, though they all seem to handle virtually the same, aside from the fact that a few have five gears where others have six. The difference this has on gameplay though is not discernible.
The idea is that you race from a starting point through a level made up of checkpoints. Before each checkpoint you need to decide whether to turn left or right, which will lead you onto a different environment. These choices will ultimately lead you to a different finish, and you're aiming to find the fastest time to each one of the finishes to upload onto the XBL leader boards. Racing against the clock, you beat each level segment within the allotted time to refill your clock and race to the next checkpoint. The levels are generally filled up with a number of other racers for you to overtake, and also considerable traffic. Overtaking increases your score, and drifting around corners allows you to be faster around the track, therefore gaining more points.
The nice thing about the arcade controls in Outrun is that it is ridiculously easy to put your powerful Ferrari into a drift. Simply tap the brake while turning and your car will start drifting. All you need to do is to hold the accelerator and aim yourself around the corner. By drifting, you keep your speed higher in the game, and therefore are pretty much encouraged to drift your way through the entire level. We’re not sad about that, because it really is easy and fun to do. One of the game modes in fact requires you to do drifts and overtake cars so as to impress your passenger, which is fun, but not particularly challenging.
The new graphics really work well, emphasising the arcade roots where from this game has come. The levels too look vibrant and exciting, and it’s all packaged really well. The game also comes packaged with a number of arcade style music hits which suit the gameplay perfectly. It’s really hard to find something to complain about with Outrun, because it’s so beautiful in its simplicity.
The downside to it really would have to be that unless you take it online you never really have any actual opponents to race against, aside from the odd Ferrari that seems to be racing with you, but you only catch up with these guys as the levels progress, they don’t start on a grid with you.
The addition of an online mode obviously is very valuable for the longevity of a title such as this. The ability to race against anyone online over any of the courses is a great addition, and solves the problem of not feeling as though you are genuinely racing anyone in the single-player. An added catch up option makes sure the races remain close and fun, and therefore much more enjoyable.
Overall Outrun is a solid remake which exceeds our expectations and gives hope for more solid remakes in the future. It has enough replay value through the multiplayer to warrant the purchase, and should not be overlooked by new players as well as old fans. The addition of a solid multiplayer is worth the purchase alone.