OutRun Europa
Copyright/Publisher: US Gold/Sega, Developed By: Probe Software Ltd, Programmed By:
Neil Coxhead, Music By: Jeroen Tel, Graphics By: Mak Computer Grafix & Drew Northcott,
Produced By: Neil Young, Release Year: 1991, Genre: Weird Racing, Number Of Players: 1

Blimey, whose is that car in the car park? Whaddya mean, it's a nicked Porsche? Our reviewer looks into a late arrival from US Gold and ends up having to explain a few expensive write-offs. Fortunately, his review isn't one of them. Rev it up for us, Mister Reviewer.

Surprise! Bet you weren't expecting this one. The thing is, it arrived a bit too late to be mentioned on the cover, but we squeezed it in anyway. Once again your super soaraway CF gets you the exclusives on all the best new games.

You must all have heard of Out Run and if you haven't, all I'll say on the matter is that it was a mega-successful coin-op that converted into an average home computer conversion and went on to sell heaps. This time around, those US Gold folk have merely taken the Out Run name and produced an original game exclusively for the home gaming market.

This seems to have worked better for them, 'cos I can tell you now, this is a bit of a stonker. You play a top secret agant who has been stupid enough to let some rotters run off with a briefcase full of secrets (which is more realistic that it sounds - Ed). Still, he quickly makes up for his gross stupidity by using a bit of initiative. He nicks a motorbike and sets off in pursuit of the thieves.

However, fate decides to belch in his face once more. Now the authorities think he's nicked the secrets and are chasing after him, as well as the thieves' cohorts who are also in pursuit. Worse still, while he was hot-wiring the bike he broke one of his fingernails...

The first section sees you playing the hero as the speeds from London to Dover. Being the first level, it's also the easiest, the bike sticks to the road like glue and there is plenty of bonus boost juice to pick up along the way.

As you speed along there are a number of hazards to watch out for. Bends in the road aren't hazardous when you're alone, but get caught on the outside when an adversary appears and he'll try to ram you off the tarmac. Real problems occur when hills appear on the road.

Unless you centre the joystick before you go over them you tend to perform an all mighty jump which sends you hurtling right or left into the scenery. On early levels you can get back on the road and complete the course, if you're lucky. But as you'd expect, later in the game the time limits get much tighter and one crash will put you out of the running for sure.

Your enemies appear at random and try to run you off the road. There are two ways of getting out of this situation. You can either ram them back - after about six hits they give up and go home - or you can use your boost button to out run them. You're better off trying to ram them though as you need the precious boost to out rin the police.

Yes you hear me - the police. When you hear a siren, it's only a metter of seconds before the squad car eases up alongside you. The easiest way to ditch the beggars is to hit boost. You then accelerate and the peelers fly out of view at a speed approaching that of light. If you don't use boost, they tend to hang around like a fly round mouldy vegetables and it's only a matter of time before you're arrested. Take note.

So are the odds all stacked against you? Not quite. As well as extra boosts, you can pick up boxes of ammo; they're completely useless on this level but you need them for later on.

One more thing to mention is the time limit. This starts off very low but, fortunately, each section is divided into segments. If you finish a segment within the time limit, the timer immediately gets replenished a bit so that you can at least attempt the next segment.

In level two you've stolen a jetski and have to nip across the channel to France. This time other jetskiers try to turn you into flotsam as you cross the channel. If that isn't enough to complain about, helicopters drop depth charges onto you. In this section you don't have boost but you can shoot down the helicopters (told you that ammo would come in useful).

In level three you're back on dry land and you're kleptomania shows no signs of clearing up. This time it's a Porsche you've 'acquired'. This level, a jaunt through France, and the next level, a screech round Barcelona, are very similar to level on in content. The major differences are the time limit is tighter and the car doesn't handle as well as the bike.

In level five your sticky little digits have got hold of a speedboat to take you acrss the Mediterranean to Italy. We're nearing the end now. Once you've got your land legs back you purioin a Ferrari F40 and drive to Switzerland over the Alps to Germany, tap the thieves on the shoulder and utter the words, 'I say old chaps, I do believe you have someting that belongs to me.' They look sad, say, 'Okay, guv'nor. It's a fair cop,' and hand over the briefcase.

The graphics in Out Run Europa are stunning, from the scrolling road to details like the looming white cliffs of Dover taking up much of the left hand side of the screen. The action itself is also fast and frantic. The controls leave you free to concentrate on your driving, and you need to. There's nothing complex about the gameplay, it's just slick.

Going abroad
Commodore Format has some useful advice for those of you about to go abroad.

Do decide where to go.

Take your C64 with you or you'll be bored.

Remember to come back in time to buy the next issue.

Say hello to everyone for us.

Do eat the local food. Otherwise you'll die of hunger.

THE DOWNERS
Some of the levels are a little too similar to each other.

If anything, controls are too simple.

...AND THE UPPERS
The soundtrack is racy and excellent all round.

The sound effects will completely flood your carb.

The graphics are a marvel - from the white cliffs of Dover to shadows cast on cars.

Seven massive levels.

Each vehicle handles differently (a great feature).

Presentation is spot on. Inbetweeny screens keep the plot moving.

Highly responsive controls make you feel in control.

Spiffing sprites seem to have a life of their own.


INTRO SCREEN

POWER RATING 87%

There may be blue birds over here somewhere but there'll be dead spy all over the road unless you cut a few sharp corners.
Having traded bike for jetski (with whom? Ed) it's time for a spurt across the channel ( and a crash course in helicopter dodging).
Not the hanging gardens of Babylon but the vinyards of France. Don't worry about driving on the right and don't stop.
By the time you get to Spain your reputation has gone before you. The Police get on your case very quickly. Not a chance of a siesta, matey. It's full speed all the way.
We're going to cross the Mediterranean by speedboat assuming these boisterous beach bums don't clog the coastal waters (with depth charges!).
Argh, nicked! Those Fiats are flamin' fast. Well, we still have to get to Germany, so in the interests of making this the best review you'll ever read, we'll keep going
No, this isn't acid rain over the Alps, this is Germany at night, mein Freund. I'm out of boost but can you blame me, I've just covered a continent. Let's get serious: taligating a police car like this will get you arrested in no time.

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