SEGA GT Online

Review

posted 2/2/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
If you own an Xbox there’s no doubting that you’ve heard of SEGA GT 2002, Sega’s simulation-style platform exclusive racing title. Heeding the complaints that numerous fans had with the Dreamcast and PC versions of the original, the folks at SEGA offered gamers a complete overhaul of their flawed title. Sloppy controls were fixed, mundane graphics were retooled and the horrid interface was sharpened to form a formidable cross platform rival to Sony’s own Gran Turismo. GT 2002 offered a deep gameplay mode and an excellent racing engine to boot. Things only got better for the franchise when it was offered as a pack-in title for a limited amount of time. Now a few years after the release of SEGA GT 2002 Sega has produced a budget-priced title that mimics the complete original title while providing gamers with an online variant. And while the offline gameplay mode remains solid the online mode is flawed and will make gamers think twice about purchasing the title.

In the offline realm very little has changed. There are a few new modes to cut your teeth on which will allow you to unlock some newer vehicles to use in the career mode. It’s pointless to go over the game’s core offline component because it’s essentially SEGA GT 2002 v.1.5. Check out our review for the title for some more information on that aspect.

What’s new to this game is the Xbox Live-powered online mode. As is the case with every other XBL title you can choose to make your own game, participate in an optimatch or just into a game that is tailored to your liking. There are a number of race modes available for you to compete in, the majority of which require the use of teamwork. There’s a team race mode where players form teams and then participate in a relay race of some sorts. When one player finishes a lap the next takes control of the vehicle and so forth, much like a relay race in competition swimming. Another mode feels kind of like rally racing where players are divided up into teams of two. One player drives while the other serves as his navigator, much like in rally racing. The catch here is that the driver’s viewpoint is skewed while the navigator has a clear view of the track. In order to be successful the navigator must use the headset to communicate the upcoming track conditions for the driver. It’s an incredibly neat idea for a racing mode and one that I hope that Microsoft plans to include in the upcoming Rallisport 2.

These modes sound great but a huge number of problems plague the online aspect. Considering that SEGA outsources its online network code to other companies (SNAP) it’s appalling to see that amount of lags that populates each game of SEGA GT ONLINE. It’s not out of the ordinary (in fact it’s downright ordinary) to see vehicles jumping and warping all over the landscape. This makes for very difficult racing, especially when you’re trying to draft an opponent or block an adversary. Another victim of the horrid lag is the XBL speech function. Under most circumstances the voice communication comes out garbled and unintelligible. As you may imagine this makes the navigator mode nearly impossible because you can only hear bits and chunks of words as you collide head on with that divider at 100mph. To ensure that it wasn’t my connection I switched over to a couple of games of Project Gotham 2 in the same time period. I had absolutely no problems playing PGR2 and I actually ended up abandoning Sega GT Online for a period of time to get in some quality racing. There are some problems that plague the interface as well, namely ones where you’ll enter games that are already in session and will be kicked back out to the lobby without any type of warning.
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