There've been a whole load of driving games coming out of late, haven't there, Spec-chums? This one's US Gold's offering and, basically, it's an update of the original rolling-road-racing coin-op hit, OutRun. But guess what!? There's no Big Red Testie!! Instead you've got a spanky Ferrari F-40 convertible. (Actually neither car is red on the Speccy, they're both monochrome.) So clamber aboard, my little co-drivers, and let's take a gander at this turbo-charged update. Vroom! Vroom!
Apart from the actual car itself, there are also a lot of other changes here. You get to race across the whole of the US this time, instead of just California, meeting all kinds of weather and road conditions like snowy mountains, sun-baked deserts and just plain rainy cityscapes. Not really the ideal convertible driving conditions, I'm sure you'll agree! The other main differences are the addition of puddles, 'sleeping policemen', those temporary road barriers for you to drive through, and not forgetting, of course, the fashionable turbo! Usage of this 'tool' is limited by the fact that the car engine overheats if used excessively - keep a close eye on that temperature gauge! Oh, and you can bash the other cars on the road too, but make sure you don't knock yourself off!!
If I hadn't played Chase HQ first and seen what can be achieved with a Speccy arcade driving game I might not have been so disappointed with this, but then again maybe it wouldn't have made that much difference. It is fast and it is slick, and some of the graphical bits, like nudging the Porsches (heh heh) and driving through the barriers, are nicely rendered, but on the whole I felt let down. Your main sprite is nice and large, but your viewpoint is more that of the car behind rather than from slightly overhead. This means, in effect, that when something is right in front of you it's sometimes almost completely obscured by your own car sprite! What's more, say your car was a Bburago 1/18 scale Ferrari, well, the other cars would be made by Matchbox! I mean, when you collide with the other cars (hem hem) you seem to be twice their size.
I suspected the accuracy of the collision detection on occasion too, but liked the way the roadside banners flew into the air when you bamboozled them. Crunch into something more substantial and you'll see one of two sequences. Either your car will somersault down the road or it'll perform a 360° spin. Both of these are nice ideas but are executed in a rather jerky fashion, and when you see the car's side-on view both the passengers seem to have disappeared! Further, the only difference I noticed on firing a turbo was that of a tiny puff of smoke appearing at the back of the car. There was very little impression of speed at all.
Reach the checkpoint and you'll have to multiload the next stage. There are 16 (count 'em - 16!) stages, and that means 16 loads! I actually timed myself on completing the first two stages and it took me about one minute and 20 seconds. That's just over a minutes gameplay before each multiload section. Groan! Fail to complete a stage and you've a few credits to try again. Otherwise it's back to the start.
When a game ends you see a colourful map of America showing your route, the start and finish, and just how much ground you've covered. In between all this, the action might be enough to excite road-racing freaks, but, well, I was disappointed. US Gold chose not to release OutRun Europa after it secured the licence to the more up-to-date Turbo. From what we saw of Europa, we thought it might have been a better game. Such is life.
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