If you were hoping that this would be a brand new installment to the Sega GT franchise on the Xbox, your dreams have been crushed. Sega GT Online is really not a sequel to Sega GT 2002, but rather just an updated version of the said game. Perhaps I'm throwing the term "updated" loosely here, because there's a lot of old Sega GT 2002 still in here, at least 75% or so leftover. The main simulation mode is still called Sega GT 2002 mode. So what is "new" in this installment if Sega GT?
The most notable addition is online play through Xbox LIVE. If you wanted to play Sega GT 2002 online in the past, and you still want to do so now, have at it. Of course from what I hear, not many people are bothering to play this one online because it's difficult to set things up, and no one really cares about Sega GT anymore. Sure, finally giving people online play should be a step in the right direction, but when you give it to gamers a year and a half later, it's really "too little, too late".
So is there any saving grace to this game other than online play? Well, there are a couple of new things from the old Sega GT. One, there are a couple of new courses and "weather effects", although I have yet to see any real weather changes in the game, there are some night races. There are some new cars (50 or so) added to the roster, including updated versions of the Impreza (yay!), the RX8, as well as new additions that were not in 2002. There's a challenge mode where you can unlock cars which isn't too bad, but it's very short and a little easy. The chronicle mode still remains, and it really hasn't changed much.
The visuals and sound are pretty much the same as Sega GT 2002, which is disappointing, because you would have thought with the year and a half gap between games, something would have changed. The only thing new in terms of sound is a licensed soundtrack. Of course, you always have to switch it on from the crappy original Sega GT music to hear it, and the licensed soundtrack really doesn't make things any better, since it's all independent artists, and you probably won't give a crap anyway. At least you still have custom soundtrack support, and they fixed the bug that would only allow you to listen to a limited number of your songs in the soundtrack.
If you want to know a little more about Sega GT Online's gameplay, read the review I wrote for Sega GT 2002, since it's exactally the same thing. And that's the thing about Sega GT Online, it's basically the same thing I've played before, with some updates. If you haven't played or owned Sega GT 2002 before, go ahead and pick this one up. The game is still pretty fun to play, and at least here you have an updated car roster and online play. If you already own Sega GT 2002, it's all a matter of what you want. If you want online play, have at it. If you don't see any new material as added value, then skip this one. I do like this one a little more than the original, since there are some updates and fixes, but I wish the overall package was upgraded.