OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast Review

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Graphics: 8.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 9.0
Multiplayer : 7.0
Overall : 9
Review by Stevie Smith
The vast majority of today’s racing games are crammed with peripheral extras and enhancing details that exist to complement and extend the central racing experience. These include: in-depth storylines, FMV sequences, live-action segues, vehicle modification, extreme realism, and intricate crash physics. And, as a result, fans of videogame racing have never been so spoilt for choice when it comes to which game best fulfils all the aforementioned elements. Project Gotham Racing 3? Need for Speed: Most Wanted? Burnout: Revenge? To be honest, any and all would suffice where layered content is concerned. So, at this point in the review, players seeking absolute realism, convoluted plot, and endless tweaking would be best advised to look elsewhere for their driving kicks. And why? Because OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast offers up nothing more than a single focal point of arcade racing gameplay that’s polished and honed to perfection. All other considerations are devoid of merit.

Historically, OutRun has always been an arcade game, its roots are firmly planted in coin-op soil, and as a console driving game it just wouldn’t be OutRun if the cars could be internally modified, or a fancy narrative separated the thrilling races. And so, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is everything arcade devotees would expect: racing against the clock, against A.I. bullet-fast opposition, and against your own style execution while drifting effortlessly around seemingly never-ending bends.

The game’s main attraction is, obviously, the Coast 2 Coast mode, which unfolds in a similar fashion to the arcade original. Players begin with a choice between two of Ferrari’s more humble offerings in terms of speed, performance, etc. (there are 13 gorgeous Ferraris to unlock), and then race various versions and sections of one overall track—yes, one track. Coast 2 Coast mode boasts 15 new tracks, but essentially it is, in fact, different chopped directional variations across one massive track, which eventually winds through cityscapes, beachfronts, industrial complexes, highways, country roads, etc. It’s formidable in its larger states, but initial races only cover smaller sections—growing evermore expansive as the player steadily moves through its stages. Moreover, as a singular location, racing across one track oddly never becomes dull or repetitive, though you’d imagine that it would. It’s a testament to OutRun 2006’s gameplay and the variety of its track interpretations that this never happens. In order to progress through Coast 2 Coast, players will be tasked with beating opponents in certain races, while others test drift ability; then there are those where drifting must be performed to impress the player’s (in-game and in-car) girlfriend—who shows her glee by enthusiastically waving her arms in the air as though riding a fairground roller coaster. Strong performances in each racing style (ranked AAA, AA, A, B, C, etc,) glean OutRun Miles for the player, which can be traded to unlock the remaining Ferraris—there are some seriously beautiful cars to be had—plus background music remixes, extra track stages, and even paint jobs for those not wishing to race in traditional Ferrari red.

There’s plenty of white-knuckle speed to be experienced in Coast 2 Coast, but more than anything, it’s all about the thrill of drifting. A simple tap of the ‘Square’ button and a lean of the ‘Left Analogue Stick’, and speed swiftly becomes smooth, screeching drifting as the Ferrari slides elegantly through apex after apex, the back end stepping out so far it looks as though the car may flip. Priceless, and with no gear ratios to adjust, or tires to select for maintaining peak performance from race to race, does unsullied arcade fun get any better? Hardly.

Beyond Coast 2 Coast mode, players can also tackle and unlock individual track sections while completing ‘Traffic Requests’ ordered by the aforementioned Ferrari-bound girlfriend in ‘Heart Attack’ mode. Her requests range from the conventional: “Hit Cars!”, “Don’t Crash!”, and “Drift More!”. To the truly bizarre: “Avoid the UFOs!” “Catch the Ghosts!”, and “Dribble the Beach Ball!”. In a game oozing oily realism like a cracked sump, this kind of extra gameplay would be uncomfortably out of place, but in OutRun 2006, it’s easily acceptable and thoroughly enjoyable. Indeed, drifting in and out of abduction beams projected down from hovering UFOs is fantastic, as is driving through archways, collecting coins, or cutting umbilical cords between cars (seriously). Then there’s the added attraction of OutRun 2 SP, which is also bundled in its entirety, with OutRun 2006 and plays equally as well in all of its longevity-busting game modes.

Aesthetically, OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast exhibits all the trademark SEGA gloss that gamers have come to expect. Furthermore, the sense of playing a genuine arcade racer is always instilled during moments such as when a jet fighter screams overhead before peeling elegantly into the distance, or a hang glider whistles in low then skims away off screen. The graphics, both car models and environments, are beautifully rendered to fit with the distinct arcade motif, and each passing stage of the track progresses seamlessly in terms of differing design between checkpoints. The only slight point of visual negativity exists in the game’s draw rate, which is rather noticeable—especially as approaching skyscrapers or mountains suddenly grow vertically from nothing. Game music is, predictably, lifted from the arcade iterations of OutRun, and can be selected before racing via the in-car stereo. There is a good spread of bouncy and relaxed tunes to choose from, plus ‘Remix’ versions of each song are available for purchase in the Ferrari Showroom. Game sound is solid throughout, though not as powerful as some racing fans may like—this is particularly true of engine noise—and, though sound levels can be adjusted, the game still plays better with music at the forefront of the aural experience.

Ultimately, the “But we love realism!” fan base will likely scoff at Coast 2 Coast. It has laughable collision detection, typically displayed as opponents bounce off each other and carry on without losing much speed. There’s a lack of crash damage; plowing into walls, fences, other vehicles, etc, never even scratches that expensive Ferrari bodywork. There’s an overly simplistic control system: ‘X’ to accelerate, ‘Square’ to break and drift, ‘Left Analogue Stick’ for direction. And all the available Ferraris handle almost identically; true enough, though, they do have slightly different performance output…and look super! Realism fans would be absolutely correct in their scathing view of a seemingly shallow racing experience—but they’d be missing the point and preaching loudly to a deaf congregation while Burnout: Revenge was batting its eyelids at them from across the room. Coast 2 Coast’s single-minded arcade nature IS its strength and its history defines it instantly. The game industry is overrun by realism, and not just in the racing genre; it seems as though there’s little room for fun anymore. However, the sight of Coast 2 Coast drifting splendidly into the distance marks a long overdue re-emergence. Ultimately, anyone buying OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast for racing realism and modification mayhem is wasting their hard-earned money, and frankly knows very little about videogames.