Released for the Dreamcast in 2000, the original Sega GT was a grand touring game that clearly borrowed Gran Turismo's winning formula, albeit without meeting the same success as Sony's venerable racing franchise. The game had great graphics, a respectable number of licensed cars, as well as a variety of tracks, but some sloppy controls, a poor interface, and an unintuitive car-creation tool kept Sega GT from being more than just a run-of-the-mill driving game. Unphased by the cool reception, developer Wow Entertainment is taking another shot at racing glory with Sega GT 2002 for the Xbox, and the improvements are quite evident. The control is now precise, the interface is slick, and the inclusion of classic cars is a welcomed addition to this sequel. Sega GT 2002's only real issue is a relative lack of racetracks, but the game has enough depth to overcome that problem.
Sega GT 2002 makes some substantial improvements to its predecessor.
Like Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, the basic premise of Sega GT 2002 is to compete in a number of races in order to earn prize money that you can use either to buy faster cars, or parts to improve the performance of your existing cars. In the game's career mode, you'll start out with a small wad of cash that you have to use to buy your first car with. Needless to say, even though Sega GT 2002 has a wide selection of high-performance machines from manufacturers like Honda, Mitsubishi, Mercedes-Benz, and Dodge, initially, you'll only be able to afford an econo-box that has more impressive mileage figures than 0-60 times. Unlike GT3, however, Sega GT 2002 has a very strong emphasis on the financial aspect of its gameplay, which, for one thing, means that you'll be stuck with that econo-box for a while. In fact, you'll spend almost as much time racing as you will balancing your budget. That's because Sega GT 2002 awards you smaller purses than you'll find in comparable games, and it forces you to spend that hard-earned money on repairing any damage that you might have sustained in a race, as well as maintaining parts of your car that are susceptible to wear and tear. What's more, the more expensive your car is, the more expensive the repair bill is going to be. Invariably, you'll find that it's more financially feasible to upgrade your existing car with parts like bigger brakes or a bolt-on turbo than it is to buy a faster car outright. Sega GT 2002 has a wide selection of such parts, including several stages of exhausts, air intakes, intake manifolds, lighter chassis, performance chips, shocks, brakes, tires, turbos, intercoolers, and gearboxes that you can purchase for almost any car.
You'll need to work your way up to some of the better cars.
In that respect, Sega GT 2002 is almost like a role-playing game. The money that you do earn is precious, and so you have to spend it wisely. The process of saving enough money to buy a car that you've had your eye on for a while is a methodical one, since you're always having to shell out money to repair damages or overhaul a part that's worn out. Bumping into a wall or other cars during a race will inflict damage to your car that is automatically repaired at the end of the race, whether you want it repaired it or not, and the more damage you've sustained, the higher the repair bill. This money is automatically deducted from any earnings that you manage to win, and in a particularly brutal race, your prize money can be cut by as much as in half by repair costs. Likewise, your tires, suspension, brakes, and engine block will eventually wear out over time, and in order to stay competitive with your opponents, you'll have to overhaul those components, or in the case of tires, buy new ones altogether.
Because Sega GT 2002 is constantly forcing you to dump money into your car, you'll develop a sense of ownership to it, especially since you won't be able to afford dozens of cars at once like you can in Gran Turismo 3. Instead, you'll find yourself treating each car that comes into your possession--no matter the make or model--with a sense of pride. And when it comes time to part with your pride and joy, you can set your own selling price that you feel is reflective of the hard work and upgrades that you've poured into it. As long as your price is reasonable, you'll eventually be able to find a buyer. You can also choose to sell to a dealer for a faster transaction, though there's no negotiating the price there. Sega GT 2002 has a certain personal touch not found in other racing games, and this personal touch is emphasized in the game's garage mode, which not surprisingly, is an actual garage. You can admire your cars here, sure, but you can also examine all the awards and trophies you've won, take a look at posters of your car that you create using the replay editor, or check on any car that you might have on sale on your driveway. You can even buy trivial items like guitars or potted plants to freshen up the garage's appearance, if you like.
When you're not fiddling around in your garage or balancing your finances, you'll spend most of your time in the game's career mode on the track. Sega GT 2002's career mode is split up into two forms of competition: official races and event races. Official races are grouped in series of three to four races, and while they don't earn you a lot of prize money, successful completion of a group of official races will unlock a license test. Every time you finish a license test, the next group of official events becomes available to you. Event races, on the other hand, are the substance of this game's career mode. This section is composed of 14 individual races, including a quarter-mile drag strip and a rally course, though not all of them are immediately available to you. Compared to official races, the purses in event races are much more lucrative, sometimes awarding you with tens of thousands of dollars or a brand new car if you place first. As you earn more advanced licenses in the official races, more event races will become unlocked, and existing races will yield more money, though they'll also field a tougher group of cars for you to race against.
It's another impressive-looking Xbox racing game!