Thursday, April 23, 2009

OutRun Impressions

I know, I know... it's been like a month. I figured I'd better write something.

Well, one of the new Xbox Live Arcade games that's been getting a lot of hype lately is OutRun. OutRun is the latest version of Yu Suzuki's venerable OutRun franchise, which started as an arcade game all the way back in 1986. OutRun made an appearance, either as a port or as part of a collection, on just about every Sega System, as well as a number of non-Sega systems, before finally getting a real sequel in the form of OutRun 2, on the original Xbox. I figured I'd write about the Trial Version, since I spent all my Microsoft Points on Rock Band songs.

So what exactly is this XBLA OutRun game? Well, from what I've read, it's sort of a stripped down version of OutRun 2006: Coast to Coast, which itself was something of an enhanced version of OutRun 2. But most importantly, it's an arcade game. And no, I don't mean it's an Xbox Live Arcade game, but an arcade arcade game. See, for the younger readers, we used to have these places called arcades, where we'd go and put tokens or quarters into these tall cabinets with screens, joysticks, and buttons, or even sometimes specialized controls like guns, steering wheels, or flight sticks. Arcade games weren't like you're modern save point-filled, cut scene-riddled, single-life multi-hour epics... they were simple games with simple objectives, often simply a high score. You'd play them for several minutes, usually until you ran out of quarters.

As such, OutRun isn't exactly in the same field as games like Need For Speed or Gran Turismo. You're not modding your car, you're not competing in a racing season, and you're not trying to work you way up in a street racing gang to find out what happened to your little brother. You're just driving your Ferrari with a blonde chick who encourages you to ignore traffic laws.

In some ways that might seem a little disappointing. Indeed, the game feels a little shallow. The demo mode mainly has you driving as far as you can before the timer runs out. If it were the actual game, making it to certain checkpoints would extend the timer, but gist would be the same. The full version also has a Heart Attack mode, in which you try to excite the blonde in your car by completing certain objectives.

Still, taken for what it is, it's easy to fall in love with the game. The courses are beautiful, and the music and presentation is classic Sega arcade, from back when they were at the top of their game. Again, the younger crowd might not remember when Sega meant anything, but for older fans, few games in modern history say "Sega" quite like OutRun. I especially love the way the blonde starts bitch-slapping you when the timer runs out.

For a meager $10, I'm inclined to say that OutRun is probably worth a purchase, especially if you can talk friends into buying it and playing online with you. But one thing I do want to caution you all on is the graphics. In an era of HD games like Project Gotham 4, where screenshots of the game and photos of cars take a bit of effort to distinguish, OutRun comes to the table with Dreamcast graphics. For some, that might add to the Sega nostalgia. And maybe old-fashioned graphics are the price you gotta pay to make a game a smaller XBLA game versus a full-sized disc-based game. But considering that the last few racing games I've played were PGR4, Burnout Paradise, and Need for Speed Undercover, the downgrade to OutRun's graphics was a bit of a shock.


Mike said...

Now that OutRun is back, bring on Daytona!

science412 said...

With OutRun, Rez, Virtual On, etc., if Daytona does come out for Live Arcade, I'm officialy turning my 360 into a Dreamcast 2.

science412 said...

... And don't get me started if they released some form of Shenmue.