OutRun2SP: Brand New Version Hands-On!

We take Sega's brand new version of OutRun2 for a spin in Japan. This is OutRun2SP: Special Tours!

With the release of the arcade-perfect OutRun2 in Europe now past us, Sega has taken steps to ensure the game's forebear is not forgotten. Today, Sega introduced OutRun2SP: Special Tours into Japanese arcades. Kikizo was on its way out of Japan after the Tokyo Game Show when we discovered this newest version of the racer nestled on the second floor of the Club Sega arcade in Akihabara.

At 200 a pop (as opposed to the 100 most arcade games go for), gamers will be expecting some substantial improvements over the already excellent original. And that's exactly what Sega has in store for us. Right off the bat, ten cars are available for use. In addition to the four included in OutRun2, Ferrari fans can now take in the scenic vistas of OutRun2 SP in six new chariots. And you can choose the car's colour as well, simply by tapping the gear lever. The in-game car models remain the same, which is to say they're detailed, refined, and stunning to behold.

The full car list is: F40, F50, 250 GTO, 512 BB, Enzo, 360 Spider, Testarossa, 288 GTO, Dino 246 GTS, 365 GTS/4 Daytona.

The Enzo Ferrari is still the fastest of the pack, but a subtle yet important gameplay addition negates its raison d'etre: Slipstreaming! By pulling in behind a car in front of you, you can enter into its slipstream and get a speed boost. And this isn't some intangible increase, mind you. Tuck in behind a car and you'll see a very noticeable gain in speed. For example, The 250 GTO, which has a top speed of 289 km/h, storms up behind leading traffic at 312 km/h. This new element alone means that you'll be watching traffic up ahead with newfound zeal.

And that's not all. Sega has taken criticism of slowdown caused by collisions into consideration and tempered the effects of hitting in-game objects. In OutRun2, slamming into a car while in a drift results in the car popping off the ground and significant deceleration. Now, a gentler pop and a slight speed reduction is your only punishment. Same goes for the shoulders, which don't slow you down as much in OutRun2SP. These additions make for a much more fun ride.

There is one major drawback - the game is now a touch too easy. While we're happy to admit possessing absolute ninja driving skills, we were able to complete almost every path through the game first time through. That's largely irrelevant, though, because the all-new courses are some of the most gorgeous AM2 has ever conceived. [It might have been set to easy though! Especially if on test. - Adam]

Each of the fifteen segments is brand new, and they're teeming with life. Take the closing, pre-goal segments. Instead of the emotionally bankrupt look of its predecessor lined with spartan walls, OutRun2SP has all manner of flying objects littering the skies. From birds and hot-air balloons to the After Burner fighter jet and (what looks like) the Panzer Dragoon Orta flying dragon, the tracks will keep your eye-balls in ecstasy all the way through.

The tracks themselves are a significant improvement over the previous fifteen, and most of them contain dynamic elements that steal your concentration. Levels are based on obvious locations, like Niagara Falls, Las Vegas and San Francisco, but it's the awe-inspiring Cape Canaveral that forms the closing stage of route D that tops all. The night-time course is bedecked with twinkling stars and a gorgeous full moon, all while a meteor shower lights up the sky. Course design seems to favour drifting. While you can still make it through at least the first level without swinging the back out once, further down the path you'll be expected to have mastered the OutRun standard, and repeated hard-S curves will push your skills to the limit.

Technically, the visuals are equivalent to OutRun2, but considering that the previous game pushed the Xbox-based Chihiro arcade machine hard, this is not a bad thing. This visual splendour is accompanied by essentially the same soundtrack.

There are no new modes, leaving you with the same OutRun, Heart Attack and Time Attack game types. Sega has continued with online ranking. After completing the game, you're awarded a password that can be input at Sega's website dedicated to tracking the top cats on each course. It's a minor tchotchke, but it makes you concentrate that tiny bit more on each second of your path through the game.

The sheer thrill of burning through each stage is still there, only it has been amplified by the fantastic tracks and visuals. Slipstreaming is perfectly executed, and combined with the reduction in obstacle interference, driving through each level is heart-wrenchingly fun. We dare you not to grow a wicked grin on your face as you drive ever deeper into the gussied-up stages. OutRun2 was fantastic, and we're enthralled by the Xbox conversion, but the series has just crowned a new champion.

It is also worth mentioning that the Xbox version of OutRun2, which hit European stores on Friday, will offer downloadable content at some stage soon... could these awesome new SP tracks be part of the mix...?

OutRun2 is dead. Long live OutRun2.

Check here if you missed our huge OutRun2 review with exclusive media. We'll have more media from the new OutRun2SP very soon.

Alex Wollenschlaeger
Editor, Kikizo Games

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