Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - IGN (2024)

Twenty years ago, Yu Suzuki launched OutRun, a high speed road race across the country. With your Ferrari and your girlfriend by your side, you set out to scorch the asphalt, choosing your path and passing checkpoints to keep the ride going. Now, two decades later, SEGA's popular racing game returns in OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast with new modes, redesigned levels and additional cars. However, take that with a grain of salt; if you've played (or own) 2004's OutRun 2, you're basically getting a rehash of that title with a couple of extra features added on.
How much of a rehash? Well, instead of there being new stages or goals that you can drive through, the game pulls its stages from OutRun 2 or the expanded arcade game of OutRun 2SP, which is essentially included as an additional map pack. While that allows for thirty total racing levels (sixty if you play each level in reverse), you're still racing through the Alpine, Industrial Complex and Cape Way, among other maps that you played two years ago. There aren't really any improvements visually or trackwise, so if you've got these levels memorized, it makes it much easier to finish your stages. Simply put, if you're a veteran of the OutRun games, particularly the previous title, you're not experiencing anything different. This brings up another issue from the previous OutRun 2 review, which is that the gameplay is incredibly shallow. I'm not expecting Gran Turismo here -- in fact, I know that the arcade nature of the game is relatively brief and satisfying, and the game maps do a fairly adequate job of that by providing old stages. But you could conceivably rent the game, unlock everything there is to do in the game in a weekend and never play it again.

Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - IGN (1)
While these are some of the largest strikes against the game, it isn't completely bad, since just about every single feature from OutRun 2 has been included in the game. While you'll be able to take on up to five additional players in multiplayer matches, these matches are pretty straightforward and not too exciting. What is particularly interesting is that the PSP version supports both Ad Hoc and Infrastructure play. However, multiplayer games do use the same maps as the single player mode, which is the primary thrust of OutRun 2006. Players have the option to select between OutRun mode, crossing through multiple goals to reach the finish line, or Time Attack mode where you race against ghost cars to set time records. Heart Attack mode returns as well, tasking you with keeping your girlfriend happy by fulfilling her requests. Some of these include drifting around corners or passing other cars on the road. In fact, you can drift on roads a touch easier in OutRun 2006 and seemingly for much longer, even passing cars while almost fully horizontal. And yes, before you ask, slipstreaming is still included as the only means to receive a speed boost in the game.

Building upon these features, OutRun 2006 includes Coast 2 Coast mode, a feature that gives you a new set of challenges and tasks. The first one is set out by the Flagman, the game character that waves you across the starting line. His challenges essentially test your driving skills, ranging from how well you can drift around a track to keeping a lead from a rival (and thereby, keeping your girlfriend in your car). You can decide which way you want to advance in these "missions," and as long as you achieve an average rank of an A, you can move on to the next stage.

Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - IGN (2)
The other challenges are set up by three different "girlfriends" that have you performing different objectives on the various stages of the Outrun race levels. Akin to the Heart Attack mode, these tests (particularly the special requests that are given based on your driving performance) are usually a bit more extreme than the previous game. For instance, you'll be tasked with avoiding alien abductions, dribbling a beach ball or hitting ghosts in the road. You'll have the option to drive from start to finish or replay a specific level over and over, completing all of the objectives on that stage.

The game tracks just how far your car goes, giving you a certain amount of "OutRun Miles" whenever you complete a race stage, a heart attack challenge or a girlfriend challenge. In fact, just about every single level that you'll drive through, whether successful or not, will provide you with these bonus points, which you can then trade in for bonus items in the showroom. This includes beautiful cars such as the F430, 250 GTO, F355 Spider and SuperAmerica. You'll also find reversed stages, background music and new car colors. There are more than 150 unlockable items, but when you realize that a majority of those are car colors, the shallowness of the game is reinforced. It isn't any better if you happen to own the PSP version, because you have to buy the PS2 version if you're interested in unlocking every feature in your game. A number of the items are exclusive to the portable version and can only be released by syncing up both titles via USB connection.

One other large issue you'll find is the somewhat inconsistent collisions in the game that are skewed towards the computer's favor all the time instead of an even playing field. Particularly an issue when you're going up against a race full of rivals, the computer A.I. has an incredibly nasty way of rubbing your rear wheels or bumping your vehicle into a wall or other obstacle, costing valuable time and speed. However, attempting to do this to an opponent will often have one of two consequences: either it's completely ineffectual on their performance while dropping yours significantly, or it propels the computer driven car forward, aiding them substantially. It's extremely infuriating and will occur regardless of the racing level you happen to be on. Considering that you'll be driving a ton to gather enough points to unlock these additional items, you'll be guaranteed to experience these frustrations.

Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - IGN (3)
Visually, if you were to compare the images from OutRun 2 and OutRun 2006, you probably wouldn't find much of a difference. In fact, you wouldn't at all, since the game is built from the same game engine and repurposes the same visuals from 2004's title. While this makes producing a follow-up a relatively simple process, it is somewhat disappointing that a number of the visual issues weren't cleaned up along the way. For instance, while the reflective surfaces and environmental effects like lens flare are visually engaging, there is still a ton of aliasing issues on every car that are extremely distracting.

Some environments demonstrate the same aliasing issues as well, which can pull your attention from the driving onscreen. Also, while you can switch between multiple camera angles that capture a sense of high speeds down various streets, you'll also notice strange pops back to center, often when a collision occurs that sharply forces your perspective back to "normal." This is particularly true if you're in the midst of a long drift and you incidentally tap a fellow driver or a wall. Finally, the same lame animations for your girlfriend exist in OutRun 2006, including the arm pump when she's excited and the hissy fit that she throws when you fail a stage. Please, SEGA, come up with something new. Sound, however, is potentially one of the stronger features of the game. Apart from the standard sound effects that you've seen in just about every title in the franchise, OutRun 2006 features a ton of original, remixed and hard to find songs from the game's history.

Verdict

OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is much like the double dip debate that DVD owners have been engaged in for the past few years. It's a good game that holds onto the initial flavor of the arcade franchise, and it incorporates a few new twists on the game formula. At the same time, it's the same graphical engine, the same levels and practically the same idea just two years later with limited replayability once beaten. OutRun fans and those interested in nostalgia will definitely want to pick this one up, but other racing fans may want to rent it.

Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast - IGN (2024)
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