The gameplay is unlike most other racers, as you can send your car into an easily controlled slide, or drift, by letting go of the gas, hitting the brake, and slamming on the gas again, or by downshifting in manual transmission. The "feel" of the game strikes me exactly as the original Outrun does. I played the Genesis version a bit last week, and I swear the two games are almost identical, except for the long powerslides in Outrun 2 being more like Daytona than Outrun. Well, on to the modes.

From the main menu you can select from Arcade Mode, Heart Attack Mode, and Time Attack mode. I can only comment on the Arcade mode so far, but the Heart Attack mode describes itself as winning the heart of your passenger by successfully pulling off stunts and fast driving techniques such as the powerslides.

The arcade mode works just like the original Outrun, where each track splits two ways, left is easier, right is harder, and you can make up to four route changes before one of the endings. The other gameplay mode which I suspect will be of most interest to you gamers who started out on Sony consoles is the Mission mode. Mission mode sets you in the same tracks as Arcade mode, but with a twist each time. The ultimate goal of each mission is to score an A or above. Missions I've played so far varied from hitting certain lines in the road games that involved entire sections of the road, or running over cones or a specific color (sometimes requiring a powerslide to hit groups of cones), winning the heart of your passenger with extended powerslides (awesome), meeting top speed requirements for progressively difficult parts of the tracks, and elimination races. Missions, for me, serve only to make certain I know every aspect of the games relatively (to other racers) deep core gameplay so I can practice the Arcade mode more.

I certainly enjoy the game, and it definitely has enough replay value having Xbox Live with eight other racers available. Things I have yet to see in the gameplay that I hope to are slightly more complex physics to make handling the powerslides a bit more intuitive and challenging. Which I hope to unlock in the "advanced player" difficulty vehicles. Since I don't have HDTV, I can't really comment on the graphics completely, but as a game on NTSC, it looks very nice, no pop-up, 60FPS, virtually no slow down, absolutely no pop-in, tons of trackside detail, smoke, tire tracks, lens flare, all of the regular stuff people expect from an Xbox game. It's difficult for me to say whether I think the graphics are advanced for today's racing games, mainly because of the size of the tracks. However, I'd have to say that the on screen detail doesn't really impress me, and neither does the texture resolutions. Those two aspects seem fairly standard for games optimized for the Xbox to me, though if the online screenshots are what the game looks like on HDTV, then I feel very deprived by my NTSC television.

Online play via Xbox Live is excellent I should mention also that there are quite a few unlockables. Examples are, but are not limited to, the original Outrun playable as a new mode, several Super GT/Scud Racer and Daytona 2 tracks(none of which have been seen on a home system before), and at least six unlockable vehicles, including "advanced" difficulty/physics vehicles.

Comparison shots with more popular racers:

Outrun 2 Arcade/Xbox - Burnout 2 PS2 - GT4 PS2 - NFS Underground PS2

Outrun 2

Burnout 2 - PS2

Outrun 2

Facts we know about GT4 - Polyphony admitted that they both lowered the number of cars on track to 6, from the previous game's 8, and that they maxed out the PS2. Note the low texture resolution as well.


Outrun 2

For NFS Underground note the blurry textures underneath that shiny ground surface, and that none of the pics of NFS Underground have more than one other car on screen.

NFS Underground

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