April 22, 2001
Daytona USA 2001 (DC) - Review
Few racing games can claim as much respect and admiration as Daytona USA in the arcades. Sure, the physics engine isn't even close to those in games such as Gran Tursimo 3 on PS2 or Colin McRae Rally 2.0 on the PSOne, but it desn't need to be. This is an arcade racing game, with the emphasis on a quick adrenaline rush. Sadly, there has never been a good home conversion of Sega's premiere racer. Both the Sega Saturn and PC conversions lacked the excitement of the arcade game. Now however, the Dreamcast has provided Sega with a machine capable of reproducing not only the arcade thrills but also the spectacular graphics and enormous sense of speed.
|Ahh... classic Daytona.|
Sega have been very generous with the new additions to this game. While the 3 tracks from the original arcade game have been accurately reproduced, Sega have also added 5 new tracks (2 are from the Saturn game, but will be new to most people) including Desert City, National Park Speedway, Circuit Pixie, Rin Rin Rink and Mermaid Lake. Each of these 8 tracks can also be raced in reverse, mirrored or mirror-reversed making 32 different tracks to race on in total. The game begins with 4 standard cars, including the ever-popular Hornet, but it's possible to unlock six hidden cars as well as the horse from the arcade game.
|Skids and slides are very common.|
While Daytona USA 2001 is full of options some people may not be overly happy with the handling of the cars. If you just boot up the game without changing any of the settings you car will horribly oversteer. Push the analogue control left and you car goes into a sharp skid to the left and will put you into the wall. It's almost uncontrollable, but fortunately the game has an option to reduce the severity of the turning. Races can have up to 40 cars on track which makes some of the smaller tracks more like a freeway then a racetrack. Crashes are frequent, and the damage to cars ultimately affects your handling and top speed for the duration of the race, unless of course you call into the pits which wastes a lot of time.
There has been one very major omission for the PAL version of Daytona USA 2001 that is almost unforgivable. One of the biggest drawcards for this game in America and Japan is the online gameplay for up to 4 people simultaneously. Unfortunately for reasons unknown, but most likely the cutbacks to the European network programming team at Sega, this option has been dropped for the PAL version. Dreams of playing Daytona with your mates through the Internet have now been quashed. I guess that one consolation for those of us in Australia is that the game may have struggled quite severely with the lag with the servers hosted in Europe.
|When you see this, you're in trouble.|
Graphically, Daytona USA 2001 is quite pleasing, although at the same time the game is also a little disappointing. While the game maintains a solid frame rate in single player mode, in the 2-player split screen mode there is some very obvious slowdown, especially when the two player controlled cars collide. It's only small, but is noticeable. For some reason while racing I also had the feeling that the game isn't arcade perfect. Sure it looks good, but perhaps Daytona just starting to show its age. One neat addition is the inclusion of sparks if you hit the walls and the added detail to a couple of the tracks. Also interesting to note is the rather drastic reduction in detail when playing the 2 player mode. On Rin Rin Rink for example an entire waterfall is removed and replaced with just a dirt river bed. Still, with 10 cars on the circuit and a 2-player split screen to control the Dreamcast does an amicable job.
It's nice to see that Sega have put a bit of work into the sound in this game. The music, while not great is quite suitable for the game while the special effects are suitably impressive. Ambient sounds are few and far between, but when your travelling at 300+ km/hour you'd be hard pressed to hear anything anyway.
|Gorgeous skies are common.|
Daytona USA 2001 is the complete package. Plenty of tracks, plenty of options, plenty of cars and plenty of excitement. Why then does the game only get 90% instead of a higher mark? Well, there are a couple of small annoyances. The first is the removal of online gameplay, that's criminal. The graphics needed a little more work in places with a few spots of annoying slowdown while the detail, especially in 2 player mode, is lacking. Still if you like Daytona in the arcades you would be stupid not to pick up this game, it's as good as you are likely to ever see in the home.