Drifting. If there's one thing that OutRun 2 has got, it's drifting. While arcade-style car-'em-ups like the Ridge Racer series have always placed a premium on oversteering, nothing even begins to compare to the hugely exaggerated degree of powersliding available in the Xbox version of OutRun 2: you can barely turn a corner without finding yourself locked into a 15-second drift.
It's a feature that was readily apparent in the coin-op version - which hit arcades earlier this year - but, based on the recent version of the Xbox game we played, it's been ramped up even more for console play. Richard Burns Rally it ain't.
This, of course, is entirely a good thing. The original OutRun hit arcades in 1986 and immediately set the template for accessible checkpoint-based racers. To say that the home version of its sequel - an Xbox exclusive that is due to be released in October - is long-awaited would be something of an understatement.
But while the coin-op version of OutRun 2 appears to have been ported almost pixel-perfectly from AM2's arcade original by Sumo Digital, the UK-based coders behind the Xbox version, it hardly constitutes enough content to warrant spending 40 quid on it. Which is where Sumo have come up with a slew of new modes and features to ensure that the Xbox version of OutRun is much more than just 15 minutes of throwaway, retro-fuelled fun.
Central to this is the Sumo-created Mission mode, which is split into six specific areas, which are then further divided into over 100 tasks, each represented by a 'card'. It's an extension of the coin-op's Heart Attack mode (also featured in the Xbox version), in which you had to perform set tasks - such as drifting for a certain length of time - during the course of a normal race.
The Mission mode eschews the race aspect altogether and just focuses on the challenges themselves - more of which are unlocked as you progress. There's still some work to be done in terms of balancing the feature at present - some aspects of it are ridiculously tough in the build we played - but it should provide a satisfactory and compelling addition to the single-player experience. But it's the Xbox Live multiplayer, which supports up to eight racers, that we're really keen to see and we're convinced that it's this feature that will really keep players coming back.
Extra modes aside, Sega have confirmed that they're "looking into including additional cars" in the home conversion and there's also the likelihood of additional unlockable tracks (we're expecting an announcement on this in a few weeks' time). It may have a tricky time convincing people that it's a more worthwhile investment than, say, the superb-looking Burnout 3 (which, unlike OutRun 2, will also be available for PS2) but there's definitely a lot more to this than just retro-chic appeal.
To find out more on the development of the Xbox version, we cornered Sumo Digital creative director Darren Mills for an exclusive chat about getting commissioned by Sega, coming up with new modes - and matchbox-sized Ferraris. Click through to the next page for more.