Review by james2

Reviewed: 09/01/06

It's retro comebacks at its finest.

It’s about time games companies started re-developing older franchises, keeping the elements that made them so cool whilst adding in features unavailable at the time. SEGA brought back its Outrun series on the Xbox about 18 months ago and made quite a success of it. And now it’s back for another outing.

Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast uses the same formula of “easy to pickup, hard to master” as its predecessors, with only an accelerator, brakes and steering to worry about. Cars can take a few hefty bumps and scrapes without losing any major speed, but thanks to the new drafting feature, or “slipstreaming” as we’re told to call it, you’ll be climbing back up the pecking order sooner than you think.

Being an arcade racer, things are often over-exaggerated, one of them being the aforementioned slipstreaming. There’s quite a big gap that can open up between racers and yet you’ll still be able to speed up behind them without using any extra power. Power sliding is another feature that you’ll soon get used to, although be careful to not being totally reliant on it as some corners still need to be taken with the tried and tested brake wide, accelerate through manoeuvre. The basic premise is that gamers should get used to the tracks, because after a while you’ll need to know almost exactly what’s coming and how to take it if you’re going to be on that podium spraying expensive champagne over everyone. Luckily, the simplicity of power sliding (tap brake then back onto the power) means you’ll be picking it up in no time at all.

A wealth of options for the lone player awaits, ranging from the classic checkpoint races to a new Crazy Taxi-style game in which a girl calls out different challenges for you to do, such as overtake as many cars in a given time limit or dodge UFO’s as you race down a freeway. The Coast to Coast mode is the real meat however, in which you race opposition over the 30 different circuits and participate in drafting and drifting challenges. The original Outrun game is also available for those feeling nostalgic. As with every racer, there’s only so many times you can slide round a corner before you get that “seen it all before” feeling, but luckily Outrun is quite addictive, so even when you’ve obviously seen everything on offer, there’s a strange urge to just complete one more race.

If you’re insane enough to buy both the PS2 and PSP versions, you’ll gain access to the connectivity mode where you copy over your profile to the PSP when away from your console, rack up the miles, then copy it back to the PS2 to carry on where you left off on the handheld. Great in theory, but when both games are virtually the same, only the most hardcore of games (or those with huge bank balances) will be testing this one out. There’s no multiplayer to be had on one console, but there is a great online mode available for up to six players to thrash around circuits, or if you’re particularly posh there’s always the seemingly redundant system link. Online is a bit sparse, perhaps I’m the only one who relishes Outrun these days, but creating a game gives you plenty of options, such as restricting the rest of the party to certain cars and classes.

There’s not much of a reason to buy this game if you own the previous installment, but for some fast and frantic fun, both off and online, you could do much worse then Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast. It’s retro comebacks at its finest.

Rating: 8

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