Review by Eric43

Reviewed: 01/16/07 | Updated: 07/09/09

Sega proves they still have their racing mojo with this game

Sega was on a roll in the 80’s-90’s with their famous arcade racers—Outrun, Daytona USA 1/2, Scud Race, Virtua Racing, Sega Rally Championship, etc. Then it seemed Sega gave up, especially when the Dreamcast flopped. Daytona USA for the Dreamcast was their last ditch attempt at a solid racer, but that hardly got any media attention. Sega was done for. YEAH RIGHT! Some genius at Sega AM2 decided to release a full-fledged 3-D sequel to the twenty-year-old Outrun game, complete with a sense of speed and radical drifts, and it looks beautiful. An arcade game and Xbox port is released in ’04, then Sega AM2 puts more icing on the cake by releasing Outrun 2006, with more levels, cars, and music tracks. Nice job, Sega.

Outrun 2006 is an arcade racer which recreates the same old Outrun formula: there’s a guy and a girl riding in a Ferrari, passing by traffic and getting through stages as fast as possible. The course is split up into fifteen tracks, each one considerably different from the others. Think about the course as a cone with one track on the left, connecting to two, then three, four, and five. You start at that single track on the left, then when you get to the end of that track, you can choose to turn left or right onto the corresponding track. Turning right will lead to a more difficult course, so you can choose to challenge yourself or take the easy way out every session. This means that each race (road trip) is up to the user’s choice. It’s a stroke of genius idea that I’ve yet to see emulated in any other racing game to date.

In Outrun, there was the cherry red Testarossa and that’s it. However, Outrun 2006 has a bucketload of licenced Ferraris; fifteen in all! There’s the classic Testarossa as well as the F40, F50, F355 Spider, 360 Spider, 512BB, and the world famous Enzo. Each car comes in a small variety of colors and has a difficulty label slapped on it—Easy, Medium, or Hard. Obviously the more difficult cars travel six miles per hour faster than the easy ones, but they are more difficult to handle. New to Outrun 2006 are the tuned Ferraris; every car has an alternative version with some racing logos and spoilers slapped on it, and they go much faster too, yet they are more difficult to steer. If you thought you were good at Outrun 2, you’re going to find more to handle this time around.

There’s two full-fledged courses, the classic Outrun 2 course and the new Special Tours course. That’s thirty stages and each one lasts about forty seconds total, minus the intersection. The original course is decked with European flair, and you’ll fly by beaches, coniferous forests, deserts, old castles, ghost forests, the Eiffel Tower, and the Roman Colosseum. The SP course takes place specifically North America, and you’ll encounter scenery from San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, Kennedy Space Center, the Grand Canyon, as well as some forests, jungles, and ancient Aztec/Incan ruins. Sega AM2 delivered enough variety to please the fans. The only flaw is that the Scud Race/Daytona USA 2 bonus courses from the original Outrun 2 were ditched this time around.

Alright, the features are all good, so how’s the driving? It’s solid. At the starting line, when you see the same old Fat Flagman from the original, you know it’s going to be a great experience. The controls are pretty simple and driving is a blast. The sense of speed reflects Sega’s ability to keep the action intense without compensating control over the vehicle. However, like in all good Sega racers, there is the option to drift (in other words, rotate the car sideways to corner at higher speed). Drifting slows down the car a little, so it’s usually a better idea to corner normally whenever you can. However, you’re going to be drifting a lot anyway, so this will become a staple tactic in bypassing tricky turns.

To drift, tap the brake or down-upshift on the stick. Unlike other Sega racers, drifting is much simpler because it’s impossible to spin out. However, the game utilizes some sort of “rail drifting” instead of a free-drifting system. When the car drifts, it feels like it’s following a set line. This isn’t a bad thing, but it makes some turns in this game too simple. Without regard to speed, you can just gun the car into the turn and you’ll make it through most of the time, assuming you use proper cornering techniques. The real bete noire in the game are consecutive sharp turns, and they will appear on the more tricky stages of the game. To take on these portions, the car has to drift, straighten out, then drift again. This requires some practice and timing on your part. To summarize, the drifting in this game is not the same as it was in games like Daytona USA/Scud Race, but whether or not that’s a better thing is up to you to decide.

You can play Arcade mode in which you choose a course and carve your path to the exit, dodging the traffic all the way. There will also be other rival Ferraris to catch up to. Slipstreaming is a viable option in this game, and it will give you a big boost to your speed. However, the traffic tends to be a pain unless you are drifting, in which the car takes no speed loss from plowing into the back of a bus or a minivan. That really stinks. However, you can race in Time Trial mode, thereby removing the traffic and the randomness in the game. There’s another mode called Heart Attack mode. Here, you’re getting scored on doing tasks that your girlfriend gives you in the middle of the race. These are as basic as running into cones or passing traffic. Your scores in all modes are saved to a local leaderboard. On the Xbox version, you can submit your times and replay ghosts to an Xbox Live Leaderboard.

You can also do some missions by talking to some people. The flagman will offer a bunch of racing-based missions, in which you must beat the AI opponents. It’s like battling the traffic, except the traffic is much faster than usual. However, the other portion of the missions are extensions of the Heart Attack mode, except each stage is split up into multiple objectives. Clarrisa, a blonde girl in shorts who asks you to do ridiculous stunts such as drive through cone gates or plow other cars off the road; Jessica, a rich lady who requests speed-related tricks, such driving on a color strip or keeping your speed high; and Holly, a Halle Berry look-alike who offers thinking tasks such as adding up numbers or memorizing a sequence of fruits while driving. It’s a good concept, but those that don’t like doing tasks and would rather, ya know, just race probably won’t care for it.

Even though the game has plenty of features, you’re not handed everything right away. Every time you do something in the game, particularly the missions, you’re given Outrun Miles. This is the game’s currency that is used to unlock more stuff. It’s a good idea, but you have to play this game too much to unlock everything. However, there’s a cheat that will hand you everything right away, so if you want to use the cheat, then be my guest.

There’s no multiplayer besides lan and online play. If you can round enough buddies who enjoy this game, then you can have fun racing each other. No other detail can be said.

This game looks as flashy as it plays and the graphics are well-done. The Ferraris look great and are fluidly animated on the road. Each stage looks great and is littered with all sorts of detail and color, even if you are driving too fast to stop and take a look. The draw distance is excellent, especially once you go over a big hill and take a look at the scenery below. Sega AM2 once described this as a “grand journey” rather than a race, and for a game with expensive sports cars and exotic locations, this game fits the bill. A nice touch is when go through an intersection, the sky will change to meet the next setting. As the sky goes from day to night in an instant, the car lights will turn on. However, I’d like if Sega would ditch the sprite galleries at the finish line, plus revamp the polygon count of the traffic. Hey, the PS2 can’t handle all of that detail, so if we have to live with it, then we can survive.

The sound is also outstanding. The engines and tire squealing are here, and it’s not at all disappointing. Your girlfriend passengers give off little quips here and there, and they sound fine. Sound effects from the classic Outrun, such as “Get ready!” and “Checkpoint!” are still around. However, the music seals the package. All of the classic tunes from Outrun, Splash Wave, Magical Sound Shower, and Passing Breeze, are here in both original and remixed forms. New to Outrun 2006 are other tunes from Turbo Outrun as well as some original guitar and vocal tracks that fit in well fine. If you’ve never heard it before, it’s a mix of upbeat guitar riffs with a bit of salsa and dance tunes. Not to mention the classic wave sounds are back and are present in the menus. The sound fits perfectly.

Outrun 2006 is an underrated racing game, boasting original driving that Sega has excelled in for years. If you’re an arcade racing fan, or you just like Ferraris, pick up this game. It’s available for the PS2, Xbox, and PC, so you have the liberty to choose which platform you most prefer. Hopefully, if you haven't been a big fan of Sega racing games, this will encourage you to think otherwise.

Presentation: 8/10—Same old Sega racing goodness, boosted with licenced Ferrari power.
Gameplay: 9/10—Charming arcade racing on thirty well-detailed stages in Europe and North America.
Graphics: 8/10—Good looking cars, colorful detail, dumb cardboard galleries!
Sound: 9/10—Good sound effects and classic Outrun soundtrack.
Replay Value: 8/10—Thirty tracks, a handful of Ferraris, online play, and a unique Heart Attack mode. You'll be playing for a while.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Product Release: OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast (US, 04/25/06)

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