Sega GT 2002 is a comprehensive racing simulator and offers players the chance to go from standard vehicles to more advanced models. Realism is always the main appeal of sim games along with the opportunity to drive exotic cars. The game delivers with an extensive list of manufacturers including Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Mercdes-Benz, Honda, Audi, Lotus, Nissan, Peugot, Renault, and Subaru to name a few. Each car has been modeled to not only look but to perform just like it's real-world counterpart using the actual manufacturer specifications. As you can tell, Sega GT offers quite a selection of vehicles, but only a fraction of these are available at the start. You earn more money to buy new cars or can earn them by winning special races. There's a good range from classic cars of the 1970's to today's consumer cars and even exotic concept vehicles. You start with a relatively humble vehicle such as a Toyota Celica, and have to win races in order to get money to upgrade your car to make it more competitive. This is a slow process, and like other titles in this genre, it will take plenty of patience until you're able to drive the cooler vehicles.
Each type of race has it's own unique parameters. For example, some races only allow a certain model of car to race, while others are manufacturer specific. This gives each style and the coolest of these are the Chronicle races featuring classic cars. The action takes place in a set time period, where you face vehicles from that time. What's cool is that the race starts off as a sepia toned monochrome and gradually adds color in the first lap. This is a clever effect and makes Sega GT feel distinct from other titles. This is the mode where the majority of classic cars are won, using a kind of Bingo-esque system where clearing a row of races unlocks a classic car. These different modes of play all offer a unique challenge, and this keeps the replay value quite high. It's much better in small doses, and you can measure your progress in small steps, gradually working your way up the ladder to faster vehicles and additional tracks.
Several modes of play are available in Sega GT 2002. You can start with a quick race where you battle other cars, but can't earn money to upgrade your vehicle. There are dozens of individual races in each of these modes with different styles of racing. It isn't all concrete driving on pavement, because Drag racing and rally racing are included which adds depth. Special vehicles are needed in these modes, which means that the game really offers a lot of depth. Once you get tired of running around in circles in single race modes, you can make your way to the GT Mode. In this mode, you can buy a car and upgrade it with parts and customize its performance and handling parameters. In GT Mode, you can also modify your car with either new or used parts including weight-reduction, transmissions, gears, brakes, tires and other parts. Once you've outgrown them, you can sell underpowered cars. You can enter one of two types of races. Special Races have set parameters, and can get you bonus items and money while Event races require you to race a three-round tournament, placing in the top three in each races unlocks the license test. Sega GT allows for multiplayer racing in a split screen Dual Race mode, but doesn't support online play, sadly enough. There's also a time-attack mode where you try and complete a course to beat the best time. Once you win races, you earn trophies and other items which you can display in your garage. You can also take pictures of your races using the replay feature and hang these up as well. The garage is also where you can put your car up for sale or take it for a test lap.
You'll find that the driving experience is directly proportional to the quality of both your car and the parts you use in it. Driving with an underpowered car is going to mean you are in the rear. In addition, if your car takes damage during a race, that has to be repaired and comes out of your winnings. This can be frustrating, but motivates you to become a better, more careful driver. Controlling the vehicles requires a great deal of skill and an understanding of how each vehicle has been tuned. Going into the shop and purchasing upgraded parts is essential to the game, because without them, you're hopelessly lost. You'll need good tires and suspension and will have to learn to anticipate the turns on each course in order to succeed. It's not always easy and can become annoying when the car is tuned loosely, causing it to veer wildly from side to side. Racing itself is very difficult, since the opposing cars are quite aggressive and there's very little room for error. You are penalized greatly for small mistakes, which makes the game an exacting master, with near-flawless driving needed throughout.
Aesthetically, Sega GT is one of the best looking Xbox titles to date. You can select from one of several viewpoints during the races, and each one looks great. While you can't really concentrate on the graphics during the race, you can soak in the rich detail during the replays, which are available after each race. The car models look superb with shiny paint jobs and solid detail in their polygons giving them a realistic appearance. There's little slow-down to be found, even when many cars are on the track, and the game's smooth appearance lacks jaggies as well. The tracks are nicely designed and feature a good balance of speed tracks and technical courses which should keep you challenged. Both day and night racing is included, with special lighting effects making for a dazzling look throughout. The game's environmental effects such as rain, snow and other weather conditions look realistic and but also play a large role in the cars' traction on that course. Different road surfaces such as mud, wet and clean pavement also affects your performance. Finally, a decent hard-rock score does a good job of adding to the tension of the race, without overpowering the player.
If there's any problem with the game, it's mostly due to the flaws inherent to the racing-simulation genre. It's probably an easy observation to note that Sega GT 2002 gets tedious after racing around the same tracks again and again, slowly building up your money. It's not that the gameplay is boring or not challenging, just a little slow in building up. Another problem is that while car-freaks will love the bevy of customization options, this can become a little confusing if you're not familiar with the ins and outs of automobiles. While the replays look great, the game automatically goes straight into these after each race, which is annoying since there's no way to skip these automatically. This is further undermined by an awkward menu system and a limited number of tracks. Sega GT 2002 might be a bit too much to handle for those looking for quick thrills or arcade-style racing. Still, it's a bit dry no matter how you look at it and that hurts its appeal. However, this game is clearly not aimed at the casual gamer. While it's difficult, the game is solidly entertaining and the realism it achieves is admirable.
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