Where's that little old lady from Pasadena now?
Before beginning this review, I would just like to give a shout out to all five people in the U.S. who do not own a Playstation. These brave souls have stood the test of time, waiting patiently for Sega to release a quality racing title that would combat the likes of Sony's vaunted Gran Turismo series. They have endured several ho-hum racers as well as a boatload of guano-filled sorry excuses for kart games to tide over their racing hunger. With my utmost sympathy and respect, I salute these brave souls.
Today, their time has come. With a next generation console in hand, Sega's best chance at racing greatness is here. Enter Sega GT.
Sega GT is Sega's answer to a racing fan's dream. Chock full of modes and options, this title has got the power behind it to impress hardcore racers. The question is: does it have the punch to knock off Gran Turismo, or is it just a knock off? Let's see...
Sega GT is a racing simulation game to the max. With fairly accurate physics and a realistic style of control, you won't be pulling any of those 90-degree turns at 200 mph. GT's simulation style of control makes it much more difficult to pick up and play than an arcade racer like SF Rush 2049. Racers need to take time in getting to know the tracks and cars in order to perform well.
This ordeal can be really frustrating at first, especially for those who don't usually play driving simulations, but with some time and patience, you'll have all you need to get on the road to success. The emphasis on realism means slow going at first, and those with little patience will have a hard time getting into it.
Sega GT is generally a solid display of graphical power, but it does not completely show off all the Dreamcast has to offer. Clouds drifting in the sky and the fancy shmancy cars look great, but it is disappointing to see anti-aliasing problems occurring in parts of the backgrounds and roads. This "pay-channel that you don't have" look is tough on the eyes and looks way out of place when the rest of the world is as clean as a whistle.
Sega GT shines in its depth. This game is simply loaded with all kinds of championships and cars to toy with. The first thing you'll need to do is get a driver's license, so a quick trip to Sega's DMV is in order. Four different car classes equal four different licenses to pick up. At least you don't have to stand in those long lines.
After you've passed those pesky driving tests and gotten yourself a license, it's time to go shopping. With over 130 officially licensed cars to choose from, you'll have a blast picking out your new ride. You can even head out to the used lot if your wallet is a little on the light side. You start small with a measly $10,000, but with super cars like the Viper and NSX sitting in the showroom, there's plenty of incentive to do well.
If none of the standard cars suit you, then head off to the Carrozzeria, where you can build a car to please the inner speed demon. Again, only the lowest class of cars is available to start, but pass the factory license trials and you'll gain access to put together some of the fastest cars ever to appear on the Dreamcast. You can customize your car further by adding more performance parts later on.
When your ride is complete, you'll find plenty of races to join in. You can race in a championship series to compete for cash and a new premium car or even just head out to the drag strip for some good ol' heart pumping, speed racing, tire-screeching mano a mano competition.
On a sad note, Sega GT has some disappointing track design. Simply put, they are short, unimaginative and boring. Many of the tracks can be finished in about a minute (depending on your car, of course), and with most races running at a mere three laps, your race will be over before you know it. Getting to know how your own car handles provides more of a task than the actual track, leaving an empty hole in your gut that screams for a bigger and better challenge.
Another problem is the game's clunky menu system. To get to where you want to be, you'll have to wade through a seemingly endless number of windows that ask you to choose something or other. It's great to have all kinds of options, but it shouldn't take a week to start a race or tune up your car.
Fortunately, Sega countered these little mishaps with some little goodies. One particularly cool aspect of Sega GT is the corporate sponsorship of the championships. Take the tournament title and you'll earn more than just cash and a car; you'll grab a corporate sponsor who will reward you further with outstanding performances. The money is good, but McDonald's still hasn't gotten me my own happy meal... yet.
Another little bonus lies in Pocket GT, the travel version of Sega GT. If you've got 128 blocks of space set aside on a VMU, just download this little baby and earn your cash on the road.
Those of you with Dreamcasts hooked to the Internet also get a special bonus. Though net play isn't available (aw...), you can upload / download Ghost Car data, view rankings, and enter the Network Cup. Still, not too shabby.
While Sega GT is definitely not the groundbreaker that Gran Turismo was, it is indeed a solid racing title with plenty of replay value to keep the engine warm. Dreamcast race junkies, this one's for you.