SEGA GT Online

SEGA GT Online

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 2/2/2004 for Xbox  
More On: SEGA GT Online
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.
What makes this most frustrating is that the guys at SEGA actually developed a rather deep and engaging online mode. They had a great idea but the execution is just incredibly flawed. In many ways GT Online reminds me of EA’s ill-fated Motor City Online for the PC. Players compete in races, earn cash prizes and then have the opportunity to upgrade their beauties. The problem is that there’s no real incentive to pick on people at your own level so the more advanced players still jump into the beginning races to pick on the newbies. As you may have guessed a Honda Civic is no match against a Nissan Skyline no matter which language you speak.

SEGA GT 2002 was an impressive looking game, but that was two years ago. New games such as Project Gotham 2 and Need for Speed Underground have pioneered new technologies that make SEGA GT Online look obsolete in comparison. Some of the neat haze effects to show the heat rising from the vehicles still looks impressive, but not much else will pop out at the eyes. Some of the tracks are very barren and most of the vehicle models look straight out of 2002. Everything else remains virtually unchanged so don’t expect any sort of graphical revelation.

With the exception of the new indie-heavy soundtrack (which seems to be what’s “in” nowadays) everything is pretty much the same on the audio end of the spectrum. You’ll get 30 or so tracks from some pretty decent Indie labels like Fat Wreck. Nothing that will rival the massive soundtracks of Amped 2 or Project Gotham 2 but at least you have the option to use your own custom soundtracks.

It’s very difficult to determine if SEGA GT Online is right for you. At the moment some very nagging issues plague the online aspect of the game so you might want to wait a bit to see if those get ironed out. Then again, you’re getting a very complete and extensive single-player game for the budget price of $19.99. There’s a lot to love if you missed out on SEGA GT 2002, but if you’re looking to pick this one up solely for the online component you should wait and see if SEGA can improve upon the shoddy network code.
A decent outing, considering that it includes the full SEGA GT 2002 title at an attractive price point. Some of the network really needs to be reworked though so online racers might want to wait it out for while.

Rating: 7 Average

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

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

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