January 14, 2001
Yet another racing game on the Dreamcast. After only one year of release the system already has well over 20 racing titles, some good, some bad. Sega GT was supposedly Sega's answer to Gran Turismo on the Playstation, and soon Playstation 2. Is Sega's title really as good as Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo, or is it just another game to be lost in the increasingly crowded racing genre.
The first thing you will notice about Sega GT is the very cool intro with some great visuals and music. The main menu gives you a wealth of options that include championship, single race, dual race (2 player mode), VMU Game etc, etc. By far the majority of your time will be taken up in the Championship mode. This is where you earn your licenses so you can purchase more powerful cars. In Sega GT you are given $10000 cash to purchase a car and then, as you win races and earn money, you can upgrade the car or purchase used or totally new ones. The number of cars on offer is quite astounding, with that Aussie favorite the Gemini even making an appearance.
The tracks in Sega GT are quite varied with oval tracks, country side tracks, city road tracks and even drag strips making an appearance. Yes, you can enter drag races if your car is souped up enough. I can tell you now that it will be some time before you beat the best times in those races. As you progress through the championship more cars are unlocked which can then be used in the Single Race or Dual Racing modes. Sega have even included a VMU mini-game which also unlocks secrets and new cars in the main game.
Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Sega GT is the control of the cars. For some reason they are very awkward to control, especially after hitting a barrier where the car will swing violently to the other side of the road usually smashing into the other barrier. The cars also seem a little sluggish to respond to the controls and by the time they have responded you have usually over steered and end up heading straight into the nearest wall. It's an annoyance that unfortunately distracts from the gameplay.
Sega GT is quite a gorgeous game to look at. The backgrounds are highly detailed with plenty of billboards, crowds and building while the frame rate is rock steady. The cars are modeled fairly accurately (As far as I can tell) while the spot effects such as smoke and skid marks are realistic, if a little sparse at times. Obviously the developers have put a lot of effort into the graphics but it is a shame then that the cars suffer no physical damage, even when colliding head first into a brick wall. Another annoyance is that the cars are almost totally devoid of any logos or advertising. Sure they look clean, but how many real-life racing cars these days have almost no advertising or logos on them? Almost none.
Sound in racing games can be critical to the sense of reality. A racing game can be ruined if the Ferrari sounds like the lawn mower down the road. Unfortunately Sega GT seems to suffer from this problem. Because you start out with such low powered cars the game sounds very weak, and as a result is a bit of a turn-off. Moving up to more powerful cars sees things improve, but even these cars sound a little on the weak side. The music in Sega GT is adequate while the sound effects such as squealing tires and crashes are fairly good.
Don't be mistaken, Sega GT has some good points. The graphics are more then adequate while it will take you ages to unlock all the cars and secrets. Unfortunately, controlling the cars is not as easy as it should be and is no where near the fluidity of Le Mans 24 Hours or Metropolis: Street Racer. This game is probably best left on the shelves, unless you are a huge racing nut and have the previously mentioned games.