We only officially found out about the existence of Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast a few weeks ago ago, but this didn't stop Sega from letting us play the PSP version of the game when we attended their offices recently. We were expecting bug ridden preview code with only one race type and a limited vehicle selection, and what we got was completely the opposite. Despite the fact that the game still has roughly two months of development time left, the game is shaping up surprisingly well.
Anyone not familiar with the game should note that Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast isn't an entirely new Outrun game, but best described as an expansion pack to Outrun 2. The game features all the modes, cars and tracks found in Outrun 2 for the Xbox, as well as all the features found in Outrun 2 SP, which is the arcade version of Outrun 2. It is as simple as pressing triangle on the PSP to display the race types for either Outrun 2 SP or Outrun 2. Sega haven't just settled with a direct port though and have even included some new features. There will be twelve officially licensed vehicles making the cut, as well as the new Ferrari F430, which is the default car when you go into any of the game modes.
The first thing we did was launch straight into a single player race against the clock. Racing games have generally had a hard time coming to the PSP because the analog nub provides handling that is extremely sensitive. Thankfully, the developers of Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast have done an incredible job with the handling. Controlling the vehicles is extremely simple, we thought that the handling would be the component of the game that was disappointing, but the handling is so tight that it?s easy to pull off the power slides and to control the Ferrari's. As the game moves down the development cycle the handling is likely to be honed even more, so we?re looking forward to that.
The preview build even included wireless multiplayer support, and whilst the game was a bit laggy it was surprisingly easy to get into the game, allowing gamers to select the track and vehicle with relative ease. The only race mode we played was a race against the clock and against your opponent. It wasn't possible to tell where your opponent was because there is no map, but we're hoping this is implemented later on. The PlayStation 2 version of the game has been confirmed to include online multiplayer, and not surprisingly the PSP version also includes an online option. We couldn't actually play the online mode, but we're pleased that the PSP hasn't missed out on what was one of the best features of Outrun 2.
Visually the game looked very similar to the Xbox version, some of the buildings in the background didn't look very detailed and the water effects weren't quite finished but the cars themselves looked great. There is a lot of advertising on billboards along the side of the road from companies like AMD, but generally you're going so fast past these banners that you barely notice the advertising.
The main real difference between this game and Outrun 2 is the coast to coast mode. We actually didn't get an opportunity to try this mode but it allows you to race from the east coast of the United States to the west coast or vice versa (we actually don't think it's going to make that much of a difference). The main real concern we have with Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast is the fact that it isn't that different to Outrun 2 for the Xbox. We'd like to see more vehicles or tracks added, but the game has a lot of development time left, so anything is possible.
Overall, though, we were very impressed with how far along Outrun 2006 actually is. With three months (at least) of development time still to go with the game we can only imagine how polished it is going to look upon its release in March. There have been no official screenshots of the game released yet, so we cannot include the latest images, but as soon as they become available we'll include them, but without images we still cannot deny that Outrun 2006: Coast to Coast is going to have the team behind Burnout just a little worried.