You may recall Outrun from the arcade days. It's a cross-country racing game that requires that you reach specific checkpoints within a given time limit in order to continue playing. You may also remember Outrun 2, the most recent sequel to the original arcade version. And if you do, that's too bad because Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is basically a re-release of that game. Although it has one new mode and a few new features, it's still the same game at the core. It even uses the exact same tracks.
It's you, your Ferrari, and your gal. Guess which one is expendable? Yes, the car is definitely man's best friend in this game. Your girlfriend will start to whine and bitch if you don't pull off some manly driving stunts for her. She'll even leave you for your racing rival if you don't manage to keep the lead. And if she sounds shallow, that's only because she's taking after the gameplay. Fashioned after an arcade game, Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast fails to bring the game to the next level. As far as I'm concerned the gameplay has run its course, and if you've ever played it, you have already run it courses. I mean the tracks are literally identical. Down to the last mountainous curve. Such lack of new content wouldn't even qualify this game for expansion pack status.
Just looking at the gameplay, regardless of the fact that it's regurgitated, Outrun 2006: Coast 2 Coast is a fun game as long as you take it for what it's worth. Don't expect to squeeze a month or two out of the gameplay; you'll get bored with it long before then. You can play it to death in a weekend or just hack away at it over a couple of weeks. The cars are fun to drive, even if they have very similar handling characteristics. The controls are tight and forgiving, for the most part.
There are 30 levels and a moderate selection of modes. The levels feature a variety of challenging environments from perilous and icy mountainous regions to heat-soaked tropical locales with some city centers thrown in to keep you on your toes. All of the tracks include treacherous curves that separate the straight-aways - and the men from the boys. Reaching top speed in your Ferrari takes only seconds but keeping it up is impossible, thanks to the various turns and the lumbering traffic. Corners can be taken by power-sliding. This is a technique in which you apply the brakes while keeping your petal to the metal. This keeps the revs on your engine up so that when you straighten out and take your foot off the break, you'll shoot back up to top speed like a rocket. The tracks are wide which makes passing traffic a breeze, but you also have to dodge a lot of oncoming traffic as a result. Combine this with a variety of twists and turns all designed to slow you down while trying to make the deadline, and you've got a game that is sure to get your adrenaline pumping.
Modes include Outrun, Time Attack, Heart Attack and the new Coast 2 Coast mode in which you have to perform some extra tricky maneuvers to please the flagman - who basically takes the place of your girlfriend from the Heart Attack mode. They'll both ask you to do things such as maintain your lead in a race against a rival racer, run down ghosts on the road and take corners at high speeds. These extra challenges offer a little more depth to the plain racing experience.
I'm glad that this series doesn't feature power-ups or vehicular combat with weapons. It's very close to that neighborhood since this isn't exactly a sim but the racing is engaging enough to stand on its own though not for very long. Adding superfluous elements to it would only muddle it up. As it is, the only way to increase your speed is to ride in another vehicle's slipstream. In real life this doesn't actually increase your speed, it reduced drag which allows you to maintain a specific speed by using less fuel. There is an element of combat which includes bumping into your competition but you seldom get away unscathed as the AI tend to. When they bump into you and try to force you into a wall or off the side of the road, it will at least slow you down while they zoom past. When you try to give them a taste of their own medicine it almost always backfires on you. It's best to avoid it altogether.
When you complete a level you will receive a score that includes the total number of Outrun miles that you've completed. These are converted to points which you can use to purchase things at the showroom such as different Ferrari models including the Spider and the Superamerica. There are some 150 unlockables in the game but the majority of them are skins, in the form of different paint jobs. Not really much to get excited about.
Outrun 2006 isn't really a very good looking game. For a game with such a unique and exclusive license you would expect the vehicles to look a hell of a lot better. They look great in the showroom but on the track they suffer from the jaggies. The same goes for the environments which are filled with detail but are anything but lush. There are some nice reflections and a good sense of speed. It looks as good as the best 80s arcade games ever did - but is that good enough for you?
OutRun 2006 is a lot of fun, it's just that you have to know exactly what to expect from the series.
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