|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Big Ant Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 16, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (Multiple Online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
For a $20 game, World of Outlaws features a surprisingly strong presentation. The graphics are up to par for the current generation (though they're far from spectacular; were this a $60 game, we'd complain about the lack of detail and the long loading times). The sounds make you feel almost like you're at the racetrack. As each race wears on, the track takes damage and becomes harder to drive on. Our only real complaint about the presentation involves the cheesy "tear-off" gimmick, which only draws attention to the fact that the glops of mud on your screen aren't that convincing-looking.
There are a few important gameplay problems here, unfortunately. While there's little rubber banding per se, the A.I. cars' speed does seem to vary depending on where you are. If you're significantly behind the closest car, it can take many laps to catch up, but then it might only take one lap to pass a whole cluster of cars.
If you can manage to do so without bumping into any of them, that is. The A.I. cars seem to cluster a little too closely together, even toward the ends of the long races. This problem comes into play as soon as you catch up to the group, and until you master all the intricacies of driving and passing, you'll fall into a pattern: you'll go through a long boring stretch to catch up, briefly attempt to pass, and then make a minor mistake that puts you right back where you started. There's nothing wrong with a realistic racing game being tough this way, but here it feels a bit excessive. A lot of casual players will probably put the game aside in favor of something a little less demanding. We hear Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing comes out soon.
All told, World of Outlaws is a decent buy for fans of unforgiving racing games. It's not as exciting as an arcade racer, but it does a good job of mixing accessibility with realism and challenge. For $20, that's a pretty good deal.
CCC Freelance Writer