It’s been 20 years since OutRun debuted in arcades and in that time racing games have changed dramatically. Vehicular mayhem and sim racers are the order of the day, and that doesn’t seem to leave much room for a classically-styled arcade racer in today’s market. I hope that Coast 2 Coast kills that narrow-minded mentality once and for all since this is nearly everything an arcade racer should be - perfect in both short bursts and long play sessions, while also being accessible to players of all skill levels.
The inclusion of every track from both arcade versions of OutRun 2 helps showcase the variety of ways you can play, while allowing you to get into numerous grooves during a single play session. If I’m in the mood to recreate some OR 2 memories, I’ll just play on those tracks for a while. Should I feel the need to play the SP tracks, I can just switch over quickly. Having that option adds a sense of freedom, and alternating between the two offers even more fun, since it allows you to see how the track designs have improved from OR 2 to SP while also enjoying the new features of SP with the OR 2 tracks.
No matter which rendition of OR 2 you end up playing, you’ll experience a few gameplay enhancements. The most efficient is slipstreaming, which allows you to speed up a bit just by getting behind another car. It’s a simple technique that is rarely put to good use, and yet it’s done perfectly here. It allows Coast 2 Coast’s speed to stay fast, and reduces the lulls in races that sometimes hampered the drift-heavy OR 2 - essentially keeping the arcade racing feel throughout the entire game. A few new vehicles (including the modern-day vehicular messiah in the Enzo) have been included to round out the slim car lineup. Some might find the dozen or so vehicles limiting, but for an arcade racer, it’s a decent amount.
Beyond visual improvements to the tracks, the overall look of Coast 2 Coast is cleaner than OR 2. Cars have more details, and lighting effects are used more effectively. C2C isn’t a massive graphical increase compared to OR 2, but it still looks fantastic. Quite frankly, OR 2 doesn’t really need massively improved graphics since it still looks impressive today. I do wish they’d added some camera angles that allowed you to view things beside the car and at other angles (ala the PGRs). If I’m going to smash into stuff due to the sheer beauty of the tracks, I’d like to at least do it while viewing them in any manner I so desire. The close-up first person view works, but it still doesn’t allow you to see all of the little details on the tracks. The stunning Vegas-esque city really shines, and it would be even more impressive with more camera options. This is one example of the arcade roots kind of hurting the game, since the only angles offered here are the ones typically found in arcade racers.
Unfortunately, like OR 2 before, the Xbox version of Coast 2 Coast has a limited supply of people waiting to play online. Even other low print run games like Spikeout Battlestreet have more online activity than this, and it’s a shame too, since both OR 2 and Coast 2 Coast have smooth online play. You won’t get the robust online features of a PGR 2, but you will get a fun arcade racing experience. The lack of people online reminds me of playing the original game in a barren arcade with little more than a broken down change machine to keep you company. I advise scheduling regular online games with friends, then you’ll be able to get something out of the Live play on a regular basis, as opposed to relying on the crap shoot of setting up random matches.
The audio is about what you’d expect from an Outrun game - nearly perfect. Both the remixes and original OR songs enhance the action, and accurately reflect the casual vibe given off throughout it. There’s just something about the laid-back music that makes you want to get a strawberry daqqiri and sit on a beach towel, and that kind of effect speaks highly of the music, especially the remix of “Magical Sound Shower”, which makes me want to lounge on the beach every time I hear it. The loud and somewhat violent sound effects balance out the easy going music perfectly. For every beautiful note, you’ll also be treated to a crash-caused sound effect that loudly drives home just how much you screwed up that turn. The use of controller vibration also shows off the crash sound effects, making both the effects and the crashes seem even more violent. Beyond the God-awful character sound bytes, there’s really nothing bad to say about the audio.
The Xbox version of OR 2 was heavy on unlockables, and that tradition continues here. Fortunately, some positive changes have been made in how you unlock things. Before, you’d have to pass sometimes laborious tests to prove your mettle. Now, attrition wins out as you earn things by simply meeting many seemingly simple goals in the Mission mode-replacing Coast 2 Coast mode, netting you much-needed OutRun miles. Their rewards range from remixes of the original Outrun’s soundtrack to reversed tracks, and add more life to the game. It isn’t all great though, as the Super GT and Daytona USA 2 bonus tracks from OR 2 aren‘t included here. Likewise, there are no classic OutRun games to unlock. Compared to those offerings, the ones here seem a tad lean by comparison. It’s a shame this couldn’t end up being the definitive Outrun game, but there’s no harm in owning both this and OR 2.
If you own OR 2, you’ve got plenty of reasons to pick up Coast 2 Coast. It picks up right where that game left off, improving some key areas of gameplay, while adding in more modes and tracks. If you don’t own it, didn’t like it, or simply don’t enjoy arcade racers, you might want to pass. I hope that folks with an open mind give it a try, no matter what their racing preferences are. There’s a lot to enjoy here, and while the thrills may come quickly, they’re also many in number. I do wish that OR 2’s bonus tracks and classic OutRun hadn’t been omitted though. Their absence is rather glaring, and did take away from my enjoyment of C2C. Fortunately, the rest of the experience makes up for these shortcomings.