Ben Gunstone, producer of OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast, tells us he had to make a personal plea to Microsoft to allow him to have more than the usual quota of leaderboards. He wanted, he tells us, "about 240 different ones". That's how big Coast 2 Coast is. Seeing the potential in the game, Microsoft has given him precisely that, a whooping 240 of the blighters.
Having drooled like fanboys over the last instalment, we were mightily impressed at what Coast 2 Coast is doing with the series. It takes OutRun 2 and mashes it up with the arcade game OutRun 2: SP Special Tour, creating a game that can be tackled as a collection of separate titles, or - more impressively - as the best bits of the OutRun games squashed into one race.
Mission modes such as the Heart Attack races, where you have to please your demanding ladyfriend with your driving skills, have blended the best of the previous games. One minute you're on a course from OutRun 2, the next it's seamlessly morphed into one from the arcade version.
It's a similar story with the vehicles. Purists will know that the handling of the cars in the arcade and on Xbox were quite different, but now you can use arcade cars on the Xbox-only tracks and vice versa. Old tracks can be replayed with a stack of new cars, and old cars can be raced on a stack of new tracks. It's pick 'n' mix racing at its finest.
Gunstone also tells us his team has been staggeringly busy creating and modding a whole series of Xbox-exclusive cars. The garage of Ferraris that make up the stock of vehicles in the game each have their own 'modded' version - all of which have been fully approved by Ferrari itself, and all of which can be unlocked by collecting OutRun Miles, a task that Gunstone tells us even the testers are having difficulty completing in less than two days solid. And that's with them working unbroken shifts while chained to their consoles, too.
Much of the new gameplay that sucks up all those delicious gaming hours comes in the form of the 'Flagman's Challenges'. Remember the guy from OutRun 2 who'd wave you off? Well, he's become something of a challenge-setter this time, offering up various races in the classic OutRun 'branch' format. The thing is, each segment of the branch is now made up of anything up to five separate races, as opposed to just the usual one. Sometimes you'll have to complete five races just to be given the option of moving onto another branch of the game.
There'll be a vast combination of potential races to play. It's going to be a monster game, and a huge, huge challenge. "We're not ashamed to admit we're total fanboys", Gunstone says.
Joining the remixed OutRun 2 and OutRun 2: SP are mirrored tracks of every course, multiplayer modes which involve races, time trials, and Heart Attack events, plus, of course, the faithful bogstandard single-player mode. It's little wonder that Gunstone requested 240 Live leaderboards, and we come away with the sense that this isn't just OutRun 2 with added features, this is almost like Sega has hacked its own code and given us every variation of every OutRun track we could think of with every OutRun car we could drive on it. It's safe to say Coast 2 Coast is going to be BIG.