Luxury or Lemon?
It seems like a long time since we last took a lap around the track, but Sega and Wow Entertainment are back for another speed exhibition with Sega GT 2002. Plenty of classic cars combined with a sweet exterior and great handling make for a well-built hunk of metal, but it's too bad that this ride is more show than go.
When it comes to modes, Sega GT 2002 is about as thrilling as a Honda Civic - you've seen it before and you'll see it again. Four choices are available, including Quick Battle, Time Attack, Chronicle and Sega GT 2002 mode. Quick Battle is a single race with a two-player option and Time Attack is just a race for the fastest lap time.
Chronicle mode allows players to race classic cars from the 70's and 80's. Exterminate the competition here, and you'll unlock even more cars for use in Quick Battle mode. It's a nice addition, but certainly not one to write home about.
The real bells and whistles come with Sega GT 2002 mode, the Career mode where you'll spend the most time racing for cash and upgrading your car. Like any other sim racer, you start out with a small nest egg of simoleans, just enough to buy the oldest, slowest car on the lot. After you've selected your ride, it's off to the races and a few more choices. Enter an Official Race and you'll need to complete several challenges before taking the license test. These races won't yield much cash, but gaining a new license will bump you up to a higher level of competition with a chance to earn more money. Event Races, on the other hand, present players with fifteen different "tournaments" and the chance for fabulous cash and prizes. It is here where you'll spend the majority of your time and earn the bulk of your cash.
Despite not having any actual damage modeling, Sega GT 2002 still carries a damage meter. Drive like a maniac and you'll end up paying for repairs with any prize money you may have won. Fortunately you can't be wiped out, but frequent repairs will definitely wear your parts out that much faster. Surprisingly, this feature isn't as bad as it sounds. Damage costs are relative to the car you drive and hits from the occasionally aggressive AI don't count against you. Even better is the bonus cash you'll get from a perfect drive.
And when it comes to a perfect drive, Sega GT does not disappoint. The handling of the cars is quite accurate and you'll definitely feel the difference when modifications are done. Even the wear and tear is noticeable as you'll start slipping and sliding around on bald tires and bad suspension.
Although there are fifteen different tournaments to chose from in the Event Races, there are actually only a few tracks to race on. There's the token oval track, a drag strip and one rally course to augment a small selection of other tracks which can be generalized as city and country tracks. The scenery isn't much to behold and though you'll know every track like the back of your hand, they'll still feel a little too similar to each other.
At least you won't get the same feeling from the cars. While Sega GT's fleet isn't as large as the one found in Gran Turismo 3, it still offers a wide selection of automobiles from the finest manufacturers around the world. The aforementioned "classic" cars share the showroom with the newer RSX's and IS300's. From Stingrays to Chargers, Chevelles to Mustangs, both old- and new-school fans will dig the rides.
The cars in the game are excellently rendered, featuring nice reflections and realistic textures. The game really gives you a sense of speed, and although the animations are limited and the backgrounds aren't thrilling, it gets the job done.
Though the stock audio portion of the game is merely satisfactory, you can add your own music tracks thanks to the Xbox hard drive.
Sega GT 2002's biggest problem is one of flow. You don't really feel like there is any progression except when getting a new license. Compete in one tournament one day and do it all over the very next day. You could even just drag race your way through the majority of the game if you wanted to and still grab enough cash for new cars. It's always just race after race after race with same amount of cash and the same prizes without any incentive outside of buying a new car or tuning the existing one. Frankly, it gets dull.
But overall, Sega GT 2002 is still a fair deal for the sticker price. A shiny exterior and great handling say a lot for this ride. Now we just have to find a nice road to drive it on...