The Sega GT "franchise" started out on the Dreamcast in 2000, as Sega's
kind of answer to Sony's Gran Turismo series. While the options in Sega GT seemed
like a carbon copy of Gran Turismo (such as the parts, event setup and tuning),
the gameplay itself was bad. If you had a car that had too much power, or even
had a moderate amount of tuning, the handling went to hell. It seemed like the only
driveable cars were the slow hatchbacks, anything unmodified (and even some of those
had bad handling manners) or the Audi TT (I remember that was one of the only cars
I had fully modified and still driveable). The bad handling really destroyed what
could have been decent competition for Sony's series.
Knowing Sega GT's short yet tarnished history, I felt there was a need to approach
Sega GT 2002 with some caution. Would this game play as bad as Sega GT on Dreamcast?
Can it stand up to Sony and Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo 3, which raised the
bar even further in simulation racing games? Is it even worth your or my time? The
short answers are "yes", "no", and "yes, but". Want to know more on these answers?
First and formost, I must applaud WOW Entertainment and Sega for really overhaulling
the handling/controls for Sega GT 2002. To put it short, it's not a problem anymore.
No more uneccesary spin-outs or swaggering, which was a constant pain endured in
Sega GT for Dreamcast. This time, the control is responsive, tight and pretty
easy to get the hang of. Perhaps a little too easy. I'm not sure about what other
people think, but I found it a bit odd that almost every car in Sega GT 2002 has
excellent handling characteristics. With the exception of some of the heavier cars
such as the Skyline, or the cars with a boatload of power (such as the Viper),
almost every car has no problem turning on a dime. Now, you may wonder why I'm
complaining about this, it's not really a complaint, but more of a realization.
When you look at Gran Turismo 3, there are differences in many cars in how they
corner based upon weight, powerm drivetrain, etc. But in Sega GT 2002, almost all
the cars seem to corner as well as each other. But, for some, this can be a very good
thing. Sega GT 2002 makes it easier for novices to get into the genre with a slightly
more forgiving engine than Gran Turismo 3. Although the handling mechanics are
a little too perfect for each car, it's a hell of a lot better than the original
Sega GT, by a mile.
Now, for the next issue, does Sega GT 2002 have enough in terms of options, modes,
courses, events, etc., to compete with Gran Turismo 3? Sadly, this answer is no,
like I've mentioned earlier. While Sega GT 2002 adresses the problems with the
handling of the first game, the developers seemed to have forgotten a part of what
keeps people attached to GT3. There are racing events, but not enough variety in
them. The main championship mode are just single races on a course, and really
don't narrow itself down to a class of cars. There is an Event mode, but there
are so few events to take part in, and only a few restrict to a certain car
class. On top of that, there are not that many courses in the game. I think there's
only 7 main courses, with some variations thrown into each (some changes are pretty
drastic). Overall, you may be able to race on about 15 or so courses, which
doesn't really compare to the amount of courses in GT3. Outside of the main Sega GT
mode, you can take part in the Chronicle mode, which you can race one of seven or so
classic cars in different time eras. It's an interesting mode, but nothing changes
for each car. You'll go through the exact same races with each car. You have a quick
race mode and a battle mode, which is what you expect to see in a racer, and a time
trial mode. The time trial mode in Sega GT 2002 has to be the worst time trial since
F-Zero on the Super NES. Here, you can pick from one of four courses to race on.
But why four? I know there are more than four courses in this game! Why am I restricted
to just four! As for tuning options, they are there, like GT3, but not as many. Plus,
some parts have to be unlocked, and then purchased. Great idea, Sega.
So, what about SGT 2002's visuals? Do they compete on the same level as GT3,
or at least other Xbox racers? Kind of. I'm at odds on wether this is representative
on how an Xbox game should look. The cars look great, which is good, because you
should expect that much in a game like this. The framerate is smooth and the
pace of the game feels pretty fast. As for the texturing, that's where I start to
question things. In some courses and areas, the textring does make the game look
pretty realistic. But there are some textures that seem to off in terms of color
or even resolution. As for the lighting, that really does prove that this is an
Xbox game. SGT 2002 does feature some great lighting and shadows, which is what
the Xbox is known for. Out of all the graphical elements in the game, the thing
I really don't like is the heat distortion effect in the first-person view. I
think it kind of ruins the look of the game.
The sound is also a bit of a mixed bag. While the engine sounds are decent enough,
the tire screeching is way too high-pitched. Almost like the tire screeching sound was
bumped an octave and blended with nails-on-the-chalkboard noises. The original music
is blah. Some of the rock songs just sound nasty, and tend to be a bit drown out
by the engine sounds. But, you do have the option to use custom soundtracks, and that
really makes a difference during races.
So the final question here is wether or not Sega GT 2002 is worth your time.
It can be for those who don't have a PS2 and a copy of Gran Turismo 3, or those
looking for an alternative to Sony's dominating series. Sega GT 2002 does some different
things in it's game than GT3, such as parts damage, the option to buy used parts,
a camera mode during replays and money subtracted from poor performance (such as
touching walls or cars) after races. But, it lacks the options, modes and even car variety that GT3 has
to offer. When compared to other Xbox racers, it does okay for itself. It's not as tough as RalliSport
Challenge or Project Gotham Racing, and does fill in an absent niche in the system.
But it's far from perfect, which means it's far from GT3.