Arcade Done Right
If you are a fan of automotive games, by now you have certainly heard arguments about whether arcade-style racing or sim-style racing is better. The argument for arcade racers has always been that they keep the fast-paced nature of street racing intact and are more approachable than sim-style racers. On the other hand, sim-style racers are a lot more challenging and offer a deeper, more strategic style of gameplay. Both of these arguments have valid points, and as someone who enjoys both sub-genres, I would be inclined to say that both are right. However, the best automotive games are ones that blend both of these together, like OutRun Online Arcade.
At its heart, OutRun Online Arcade is an arcade-style title. This is most evident with the controls, which are easy to learn and emphasize speed over precision. Add to this quick car recovery times, the absence of crashes, and larger than life acceleration, and it seems like you have a textbook arcade-style racer. But the cool thing about OutRun, and what made it a standout title in my opinion, was the subtle implementation of sim-like mechanics.
For instance, the game’s main mode, OutRun, challenges you to race your way across five stages, staying within a certain time limit. While it is totally possible to get through the first four by flooring the accelerator and trying to evade other cars, you will always come up just a little bit short before getting to that last stage. This is where the sim mechanics come into play. In order to make a complete run within the time limit, you will have to employ advanced driving techniques like drifting and slipstreaming in order to make that final time gate.
Although the precision needed to pull of these moves is nowhere near the intense concentration needed for the PGR series or Forza, the game is challenging enough that it will require more than just steering to win a race. Fast, timed drifts are the most difficult to pull off, and while the driving is not as strategic as some other big titles, getting past your rivals is definitely a challenge here. Although the controls make this title feel approachable, there is enough of a challenge to keep the player interested past the initial time gate.
However, even though the OutRun is the main mode, I have to say that the game’s Heart Attack mode nearly stole the show. In Heart Attack, your main goal is to impress your girlfriend. No, I am not kidding. Unfortunately, though, I get the feeling that your character’s girlfriend is either crazy or just wants to kill you. She will occasionally shout a goal for you to accomplish, like “drift more” or “pass all the cars,” and if you don’t comply… let’s just say the woman will not be too happy.
In addition to regular driving challenges, Heart Attack mode also has some pretty outlandish challenges as well, which in my opinion really make it memorable. Occasionally coins or snowmen will randomly appear and your girlfriend will (of course) want you to knock out these obstacles. These mini-missions are lots of fun, and they really give this game a lot of replay value.
However, there are only a few different stages, and eventually you will probably get bored with the beat the clock OutRun mode and the mini-missions of Heart Attack. Thankfully, you can take your game online. The online modes feature support for up to six racers, and you can choose from short tracks reminiscent of the regular OutRun mode, or advanced endurance tracks. If I had one complaint about OutRun Online Arcade, it would be the lack of local multiplayer, but the online mode is engaging enough to make up for this shortcoming.
You can also customize online matches to include all cars, regular cars, or “tuned” cars. The difference between the tuned and the regular cars is in the performance and difficulty of control. The tuned models are a little bit harder to control handle, but they can reach higher speeds and take corners a little bit slightly better than the regular models. Speaking of cars, OutRun Online has no shortage of vehicles. All of the cars in this game are Ferraris, and the game covers all of the iconic Ferrari models including the old-school Dino 246 and the ultra-rare F50. The cars all have their own handling, although acceleration and drift power do not fluctuate all that much between models.
The visuals in OutRun Online Arcade are very good. The Ferraris all look sleek and detailed, with plenty of features for the auto aficionados who might be playing. But, the most impressive facet of the visuals has to be the different track environments, which range from a San Francisco cityscape to a foggy mountainside. The different environments have their own weather elements as well, which helps create a different atmosphere for each area.
OutRun may be a series that has been around for two decades, but OutRun Online Arcade feels like a modern racing game. The gameplay features some great arcade-style gameplay, and the sim-style elements thrown in make this one of the most complete-feeling racers out there. Though it does not have much in the way of modes, this live arcade title will keep you racing for quite a few hours!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.1 Graphics
Graphics look great, especially track environments. 4.5 Control
Arcade controls are a perfect blend of speed and accuracy. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are only a few music tracks to choose from in the beginning, and sound effects are a little on the sparse side. 3.9 Play Value
The three main modes offer a decent amount of replay value, and when you’re done you can always hop online! 3.9 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.