Format: PC, Xbox, PS2 (reviewed)

No cops, no guns, no super high-definition realistic crashes, just good old fashioned retro racing fun in a pretty new world. Outrun 2006 does what Outrun 2 couldn’t; makes me feel 10 again.

Playing coast to coast transports me back to a time when I would be running to the arcade, with a pocket full of 20 cent coins, kitted out in luminous shorts and my favourite teenage mutant ninja turtle t-shirt (Donatello if you must know). Patiently waiting my turn in front of the oversized semi-car replica covered in pictures of 80’s cool. Sitting in that plastic bucket seat, gripping the wheel still slick with the sweat of the last 50 kids who slung in their hard earned pocket money for the thrill of racing a convertible, with your pretty blonde pixelated girlfriend next to you and the radio blasting out the latest hits in full 16 bit midi sound; and for all its cheesiness there were few things that could beat it.

Unlike the original, there are a few more options available in this latest version; essentially it breaks down into three categories: time trial, race your rivals and Heart Attack. The first two should be self explanatory and Heart Attack involves impressing the girlfriend by completely various driving challenges within a certain stretch of the track whilst driving along with your girlfriend, these include the expected type of challenges like passing or hitting as many cars as possible or not crashing and drifting as much possible, to controlling a large beach ball, trying to hit ghosts and avoiding UFO’s.

Aside from these new additions, much of the game is very basic and straightforward, you drive as fast a possible, negotiating cars and corners. The developers have also added some new radio channels, some new tracks and some new cars as well a system for unlocking this content called ‘Outrun Miles’. Essentially the more you race and the better you perform the more miles you earn and you can spend the miles on unlocking the bonus content. Also should you own Outrun 2006 for the PSP, you can hook it up to your PS2 via a USB cable to unlock some more special bonus content.

As mentioned, the graphics have been updated since Outrun and Outrun 2, but most importantly it still retains a very retro feel to the game. The cars look particularly shiny, and the environments are remarkably varied, with impressive waterfalls and jungles and desolate wastelands alongside chic coastal towns.

Similarly the sound has been updated to rich surround sound, there is some great retro sound from a variety of radio stations, including some of the originals and a few updated tunes. Apart from that the audio is very simple, consisting of the usual car type noises with the occasional pipe in from the girlfriend (which can get a bit repetitive and annoying).

Players are given a difficulty setting and can also choose manual or automatic transmission to customise their playing experience to what suits them best. For all its entertainment value Outrun can get quite repetitive if played for long stretches at a time, but in short bursts or playing with friends Outrun’s simple gameplay makes it suitable for gamers of any level.

There are also some online options, although given the rather small PS2 online community you probably wont be using it much except possibly to submit your highest scores and attempt to beat the best times set by others. That said if you can find friends or other people online you have the option of setting up a variety of racing challenges to pit your skills against theirs, but if you’re keen on playing online you’d be better off getting the Xbox version that has a much larger online community.

Outrun 2006 – Coast to Coast is a great game to keep at hand and bring it out from time to time when you feel like letting your hair down, either on your own or with a group of friends.

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Multiplayer: 5