There are three basic game types in OutRun2: Arcade, Challenge, and Xbox Live. Under Arcade, there are three modes, one of which is outrun mode, a throwback to the style of the original OutRun. You begin on the Palm Beach track and race down a series of branching pathways to different tracks until you've raced through five stages in all. If you finish a stage before the clock runs down, you'll receive a time bonus to get you through the next. Heart attack mode requires you to still drive down the branching pathway, but you must follow directions from your female passenger as you race. She'll ask you to do various things such as drift, pass traffic, or drive through colored zones on the road in order to earn hearts. You'll be graded not just on your time, but also on how well you follow the special directions. Time attack is a simple beat-the-clock mode.
The mission mode under the Challenge game type is where the meat of the content in OutRun2 lies. There are 101 different missions in mission mode, and they are separated out into 15 stages. These missions range from simple races against CPU-controlled opponents to truly unusual challenges. Cone runner requires you to run over blue-colored cones on a track to earn hearts while avoiding yellow-colored cones. There's a math mode, which is where you'll pass a series of positive and negative numbers--you'll need to add these up in your head as you race and then drive through the correctly numbered gate at the end of each stage. A similar game type has you memorizing a series of fruit icons as you drive, and then passing through labeled fruit gates in the correct order. The Challenge missions are a fun and imaginative change of pace from standard racing, and as you complete the missions you'll unlock special cards, and more importantly, new tracks, cars, and music tracks. You can even unlock the original OutRun game.
Aside from the outrun mission, there's a party mode in which you and three additional friends can take turns partaking in a series of challenge missions. The goal is to outdo one another in each of the special challenges. While the party mode is a nice addition, it's not a great substitute for a split-screen racing mode, which is missing in OutRun2. At least the developers were able to include a system link mode, so it is possible to set up true multiplayer racing offline.
For those who do have Xbox Live, OutRun2 is pretty fun to play online. You can easily set up a race for up to eight players, and the interface even allows you to set aside a certain number of slots for friends. The game creator can also set the route, restrict the race to certain cars, and enable or disable catch-up AI. After each race, all players are dumped back to the same prerace lobby, so you can quickly and easily set up another race with the same players. In-game, the racing is fast-paced, fun, and works well for the most part. You'll experience some noticeable teleporting, particularly when the cars bunch up close to one another. But overall, the effect on the gameplay isn't that severe, and it doesn't detract from what is an enjoyable online racing experience.
Drifting around corners is fun to do, but it isn't always the best strategy.
Aside from racing other players, OutRun2's online mode includes worldwide leaderboards for each of the game tracks, complete with player ghosts. The leaderboards let you easily download a ghost that corresponds to each high score and then you can race against it in order to get your own name and ghost onto the leaderboard. Sega has also thoughtfully included a way to vote on each score. If you play against a ghost that seems to take advantage of a track exploit, it's very easy to report it.
Overall, OutRun2 sets itself apart as an excellent arcade-style racing game. The only major caveat is that the game lacks a split-screen mode for offline racing, so if that's an important feature for you to have, you'll need to look elsewhere. Otherwise, OutRun2's attractive visuals, tight controls, abundance of content, and well-implemented online mode make it easy to recommend to racing fans, and especially to fans of the original OutRun.