Gamestyle Archive: now we’re into Xbox territory and we’re kicking off with an import review from Alex who joined us from Gamehub when they decided to thrown in with Gamestyle and take on the world. This NTSC review dates from 2002.
Sega’s last attempt to knock Gran Turismo off the top of the realistic sim-based racers was an ambitious but ultimately flawed title on the Dreamcast a few years back. Despite superiour graphics and a much better structured game progression people just couldn’t deal with the atrocious handling and sluggish first few hours.
Fast forward to 2002 and it’s looking likely that Sega’s brand new racer will suffer the same fate, but this time it really does deserve to do a whole lot better. Up against the likes of Project Gotham and Rallisport, regardless of Sega GT actually being a better game than both of them, it’s unlikely to fly off the shelves mainly due to the reputation of the original Dreamcast version. As with the original, Sega GT 2002’s main career mode features 2 distinct series of races – the Official races (which make up the majority of the game, split into several tiers of 3 races each, with license tests between each level) and Event races featuring such treats as drag racing, circuit battles and races divided up into cars from the last 3 decades, all good stuff and there’s plenty to do.
Again, the path through the game is far more structured (without necessarily being more linear) than the likes of GT3 – you certainly won’t be driving the top-end cars within a few hours in this game – you really do need to be both careful with your cash and more importantly – a good driver. Cash won from races and events can be spent in the much improved garage area – this is (at last) a fully 3 dimensional portrayal of your garage, complete with your current car selection and any medals and prizes you might have won on the walls and the desks. Another neat feature is the ability to purchase items that don’t actually affect your cars – plants, badges, guitars and amplifiers are the first few goods you’ll be able to dot around your own garage and these are in addition to the free photographs you’re able to take of replays after each race that also get pinned up on the wall.
Parts for your car can be bought brand new or for the budget concious there’s also a second hand section where mufflers and tyres can be bought cheaper, although be aware that they won’t last quite as long as the new kit would. And that’s another area where Sega GT excels – damage. Not only can you damage your car (not visibly, sadly) during the races, which then has to be repaired out of your winnings, but you also need to watch out for expensive bolt-ons actually breaking and wearing out. You might well have a highly specification turbo kit installed but if it blows on the final lap and the engine overheats you’ll be in trouble. Far from being frustrating, this just adds another dimension to the garage section of the game which offers you the chance to keep on top of the repairs as and when you need to. The engine parts do make a considerable difference to how the car handles (and sounds) – buy nothing but horsepower and you’ll find the car a nightmare to drive, but play safe with some decent tyres and suspension and a little engine tuning will pay dividends in the long run, and for the record, this version handles much, much better than the Dreamcast version.
Elsewhere there’s a superb Chronicle mode which gives you classic cars and classic challenges to overcome (complete with the colours drained from the display) from the yesteryears era of racing with points win in each stage allowing you to improves parts of the car you selected. The quick battle and time attack do exactly what they say they do and thankfully multiplayer is equally smooth as the single player mode with no noticable lack of graphical detail. It’s far to say that in game, Sega GT looks absolutely wonderful with some superb, incredibly solid car models and excellent environment mapping and whilst the courses themselves aren’t exactly expertly designed in terms of actually being all that fun to race on they are graphically rich and chock full of trackside details and high polygon features – lighting is also top notch and the heat blur from the engines is convincing too and unique to this game.
Sadly it all looks a little bit low resolution and slightly blurry (much like Wreckless) but it moves at a constant 60 frames a second without ever dropping a single frame, even when all 6 cars are on screen and with the game running in anamorphic 16:9 mode. Sega GT’s standout feature however is the sound – whilst the in game and menu music is the usual MIDI-jazz nonsense we always tend to get in these games (you can use your own soundtracks, thankfully) the actual engine sounds are second to none, surpassing even those found in GT3 on the Playstation 2. The sounds are realistic, meaty and clearly definable from one car to the next, and in 5.1 Dolby Digital surround sound the experience is delightfully encompassing and most definately draws you further into the game.
The sheer number of little touches in the game only serve to highlight the amount of time and effort that went into creating the game, and whilst the loading times can get in the way a little bit (even between menu screens) we have no reservation in recommending Sega GT to anyone who has the ability to play US imports on their Xbox – it’s a superb, long lasting game and one that petrol-heads will no doubt enjoy from start to finish. This review formerly appeared on Gamehub.
Gamestyle Score: 8/10