Graphics and GameplayOutrun Arcade Online
might be strongly based on an older version of the game but it still looks terrific. The graphics have been re-worked and of course, it’s now fully HD, but they’re also very stylish too. The stages are well differentiated; in the icy Alaskan level you’ll need to squeeze past big rigs and you’ll get to drive through hearty redwood forests, fields of ripe corn and even Cape Canaveral. Each Ferrari is beautiful, hyper-real and dominating the screen.
Everything’s incredibly fast – it’s one game where driving with a manual gearbox makes almost no difference because once you’re in sixth gear, that’s that. You overtake camper vans at 180mph, geese fly overhead at 300mph and when you drive into one of the night stages, the sun drops out of the sky as if it’s been bingoed by an intergalactic headshot.
The colours are incredibly intense, the sky an impossible blue and the cars are shinier than Steve Jobs’ magic box of next-gen Apple products. It’s looks are so 80s there ought to be a level where you drive across the yacht from Duran Duran’s yacht
and drive past a giant screen showing He-Man, Ulysses 31 and The Mysterious Cities of Gold.
The fonts and lettering are arcade-perfect, too: the display is cluttered, but it means you're constantly aware of time pressures and able to check if your score is ticking upwards as fast as you need it to.
She loves it when you go fast
The core gameplay is terrific: easy to grasp and with enough complexities to sustain your interest. There’s no handbrake and no ‘look behind’ option. Corners aren’t negotiated with calculations involving grip, instead, they’re approached with at maximum speed and with the end of having the car travel around them in a tyre-blazing drift.
The graphics work brilliantly to evoke this, and you can see the wheels slowing and spinning up as you drift round the corner. Get behind traffic and you can slipstream to boost your speed, crash heavily and you’ll pinball around, losing valuable seconds. All of these factor into the number of points you accrue and to get the achievements you’ll need to figure out the optimum way to approach each section.
The only disappointing addition to the game is the online multiplayer and it's nowhere near the exciting addition you might think. For starters, it’s completely unranked - and the fact that two of Outrun Online Arcade
's achievements can only be earned online doesn't really make up for that. Secondly, when you play online the game strips out all the traffic, which means that races are often settled at the very beginning – most drivers are too experienced to make the mistakes required to create varied action.
The game features 15 stages
Developer Yu Suzuki once claimed Outrun
was about driving, not racing, which seems an odd thing given most driving games try and recreate the sensation of driving using forensic levels of detail. He was right though, because Outrun
is all about the optimistic promise of the open road. It’s a world devoid of speed limits, fuel consumption, realistic damage and the knowledge of camber, gear ratios and tyre pressure. It’s a complete fantasy, but its formulation of pitting the freedom of speed in competition with the clock and the scoreboard is, even after twenty years, extremely good fun.
It’s a shame there’s no new content, especially in terms of courses, because if you've played Coast 2 Coast
then you'll be extremely familiar with what Outrun Online Arcade
has to offer. This is especially the case given that the multiplayer mode is so lacklustre. That said, if you haven't played Outrun
for a while and want an immediately accessible arcade game, Outrun Online Arcade
is certainly worth getting. It’s got many positive points - great graphics, satisfying controls and tough achievements - making it good value for 800 points, and one of the brightest download only games to hit XBLA and PSN this year.