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Critical Reception: Sega/Sumo Digital's  OutRun Online Arcade

Critical Reception: Sega/Sumo Digital's OutRun Online Arcade

April 22, 2009 | By Danny Cowan

April 22, 2009 | By Danny Cowan
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More: Console/PC, Columns



This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to OutRun Online Arcade, an Xbox Live Arcade racer remake that reviews describe as "a pinnacle of the arcade racing tradition." OutRun currently earns a score of 78 out of 100 at Metacritic.com.

Dale Nardozzi at Team Xbox rates OutRun Online Arcade at 8.6 out of 10, claiming that the update does the classic arcade racing series justice. "Sure, Pole Position and Night Driver were also popular arcade racers," he writes, "but no single coin-op has meant more to the current crop of console driving games than OutRun."

"Online Arcade is classic OutRun action packed with upgrades not only to catch the series up with current times, but also upgrades that add XBLA and online functionality," Nardozzi explains. "For all intents and purposes, OutRun Online Arcade's gameplay is the same as its more recent predecessors: You select a Ferrari and a gearbox configuration, and have a few different modes to choose from."

Nardozzi finds that these modes provide ample gameplay variety. "The longstanding OutRun Mode is where you attempt to beat the timer to checkpoints, despite having a nagging companion along for the ride," he says. "There's also a standard Time Attack mode that makes its way into nearly every modern racer. OutRun also adds endurance versions of OutRun and Time Attack for those who either want to run every course in succession or for some reason want aching thumbs (these are 15-or-so-minute non-stop affairs)."

"When it comes to arcade-style racing, the OutRun series has always been a podium finisher," Nardozzi concludes. "OutRun raises the bar for the series, with better visuals and more functionality than its disc-based predecessors. While OutRun may be more like 'drag' racing than road racing for those who have experienced its cars and roads before, it's easily worth the asking price to new fans of the series and to those who plan on exploring its multiplayer modes."

1UP.com's James Mielke gives OutRun a grade of B+, praising its refined gameplay. "Outrun Online Arcade -- much like its predecessors -- is less of a traditional racing game, and more of a time attack in which your true opponents are the stages themselves," he writes. "The real beauty to Outrun Online Arcade is in mastering your technique. It's this technique that, once learned, will help you shave off seconds in each segment of each of the game's levels, which will help propel you through Outrun's most difficult course paths and on to victory."

Mastering the game's drifting technique is especially crucial. "Once up to speed, the act of throwing your thoroughbred sideways into a chicane is just downright sexy," Mielke says. "Riding out an apex in Outrun is as intuitive as it gets and the courses are expertly designed to allow for both top speed racing and hairpin heroics, using the most streamlined of control configurations."

Mielke finds that OutRun comes up short in terms of content, however. "Outrun Online Arcade lacks certain features (some which appeared in the previous Xbox games), notably a handful of cars, reversed and alternate tracks, and some musical options," he notes. "The online functionality is also a little buggy, with problems joining matches, latency issues, and rare but occasional freezing of races. There have also been reports of issues with the Microsoft racing wheel, primarily in the realm of force feedback."

"While much of this can be addressed in a patch update, the missing content cannot, and if added will most likely appear as DLC," Mielke warns. "Make no mistake, what's offered in Outrun Arcade Online is brilliant, addictive fun, but it could have definitely offered more."

Edge Online's staff awards OutRun Online Arcade a score of 8 out of 10. "A riotous celebration of the unfashionable, OutRun Online Arcade is the antithesis of the modern racing videogame," the review begins. "Traction control, torque split and camber adjustments are alien to this world, in which performance is virtually indistinguishable between supercars.

"Indeed, wherever realism has presented a barrier to high-speed grace, OutRun discards it without a second thought. The result is the driving experience of boyhood dreams: gleaming red Ferraris that drift sideways around cliff-top hairpins at 250kmh while bleach blonde girlfriends fist pump the air in swooning admiration."

Edge finds that this particular version lacks the features found in previous console ports, however. "A remix of the OutRun 2 SP cabinet, which introduced slipstreaming and Americana-dressed courses, OutRun Online Arcade should be definitive," the reviewer notes. "But in terms of value the game lacks the feature set of its forebears. Perhaps in an effort to allow the previous full price releases to retain their sense of worth, we're limited to the game types featured in the arcade version, rather than any of the console-specific bonus modes."

"Nevertheless, such technical blips do little to mark an otherwise blemishless horizon, one as appealing as it ever was," Edge notes in conclusion. "OutRun 2 remains a pinnacle of the arcade racing tradition, a peak that, through both design and circumstance, may never again be topped."


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