SEGA GT 2002
Haven’t we been here before? Dozens of licensed performance vehicles, closed tracks, the need to earn money for upgrades. Seems a little familiar if you ask me but you know something? It’s a formula that never does quite get old.
SEGA GT 2002 is a game out of the same mold that begat Gran Turismo and its successors. The ideology behind the game is simple, start out with just enough cash to buy a scrappy vehicle, win your races and to earn more cash, use cash to purchase more vehicles and fabulous upgrades. As you progress, your competitors will become tougher, forcing you to upgrade your vehicle to remain competitive.
The career mode (complete with Gran Turismo-esque navigational music) is the meat and bones of the game. You’ll start out with an inferior vehicle and have to work your way up the rankings by outdoing your competitors. The game has a fairly generous learning curve, you should have no problem taking the first few races with minimal sweating. The game does harder though and that’s when the option of upgrading becomes a necessity. You can even buy used parts in this game but at lowered performance of course. The upgrades in GT 2002 seem to be very minimal, however, featuring only the basic upgrades such as Stock and Racing models for most parts.
Deviating from the norm and perhaps setting a new standard, SEGA GT 2002 has a different way of earning licenses then what we have become accustomed to. You’ll have to win three races first and then you’ll be able to try out for the license. This is an ingenious way of making the gamer earn the license, not to mention far more difficult. I applaud SEGA for doing this.
GT 2002 features some of today’s most popular and desired vehicles. There are some oddities however, some of the vehicle models seem to be incorrectly identified. For instance, the new Acura RSX is identified as the Honda Integra Type R. I realize that the Japanese don’t have an Acura division for their Hondas, but this is an American game. Gran Turismo 3, a game that is nearly a year older than GT 2002 has no problems getting it right, neither should GT2002. The rest of the models seem to be identified correctly and the roster even includes some of the new kids on the block like the 2003 Nissan 350Z.
Each of the vehicles appear to be accurately modeled to their real life counterparts. I’ve driven an RSX and the same gripes I had with it in real life appear in GT 2002. They all have a realistic feel to them and more importantly, are fun to drive. They don’t just play the part, they look the part as well. Each of them are beautifully rendered. You can tell from the replays that a lot of man hours were put into making these vehicles look as realistic as possible. The levels look nice as well, they’re rendered well enough to the point where they look great, but they don’t detract from the on-road action. Races are not only fun to partake in but look great as well. They’re beautiful to watch and if you’re not careful, you just might mistake the replays for the real thing.
Speaking of replays, they look downright amazing. Thanks to the Xbox hard drive you’ll be able to save each and every one of them so that you can show them off to your buddies later on. You’ll want to watch each and every one of them too because after a victory, you’ll have the opportunity to take a snapshot (sponsored by Canon of course, because Canon is the official camera supplier) to place in your garage. As you progress your garage will become filled with snapshots and trophies, an excellent way to show off your winnings.
There are some nice visual tricks littered throughout the game. You can catch the glare off of the back windows or rear view mirrors of the cars ahead of you and you’ll even notice a slight haze in front of you as you gain more and more speed(the same effect used in Jet Set Radio and GunValkyrie). The sun is another impressive element, instead of utilizing the clichéd lens flare effect that everyone was using in the late 90’s, GT 2002 sends a bright light towards you, kind of like what happens when you’re driving in real life. It blocks your view and serves a distraction to your racing.
Like most of the other Xbox racing games, GT 2002 supports user play lists as a substitute for the generic racing music. There’s a problem though, it doesn’t recognize all of the playlists on my hard drive and even worse, I can’t make my own custom play list. It only allows you to select one of the soundtracks on your hard drive. The sound effects make up for this though, they’re all very well done and seem true to their real life counterparts. Couple that with true Dolby Digital support and you have a grease monkey’s dream.
There are a few other modes included; you can participate in a single battle against CPUs or other opponents. The beauty of this mode is that you can use your vehicles that you built up in the career mode. You can finally prove once and for all if your Civic Type R truly is better than your friend’s Nissan Skyline. If you just like to watch then you can set the game to have the CPU race against each other. This is the mode that you’re most likely to see running in the demo machines at EB and Gamestop.
Another great addition is the Chronicle mode in where you take a classic make and race through six stages in succeeding years. For instance, you can choose the Skyline path where you’ll start out in 1970 and move up all the way into the 21st century. It’s a great way to showcase the evolution of today’s most popular vehicles. Another neat trick is how the races will start out with a sepia filter (a soft of colorized black and white) and gradually change into color. Oddly enough the custom soundtracks don’t work in this mode.
Is it a Gran Turismo killer? Not exactly, but it’s a worthy addition to any racing fan’s library. The game is technically sound, visually elegant and best of all, it’s a blast to play. SEGA GT 2002 is one of the Xbox’s true gems and Microsoft was smart enough to secure this product as a pack-in title for their system. Don’t miss out on this game, you’ll most likely regret it.
The Xbox gets its own version of Gran Turismo 3.
Rating: 8.7 Very Good
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.
It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.
It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.
When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."
As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.
When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.
Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile