Another day, another driving game: that's certainly the way it is in gaming land right now. So come on Sega GT 2002; feeling lucky? Make my day.
You all know the GT drill by now: you're a driving game fan, and what's more you have a real passion for cars. And here's the science bit: you throw in an unfeasible number of cars, an obsessive attention to detail and an ability to tinker like some crazed mechanic. Then, if the developers remember to put in a game and all goes to plan, the gamer can live out the equivalent of automobile porn.
Ok maybe that's a little extreme, but that's certainly what Kazunori Yamauchi had in mind when he produced the mega successful Gran Turismo series. Whether the GT trilogy are your idea of driving nirvana, the series has sold more copies than we've flicked bogies, and is the benchmark to which Sega GT 2002 will inevitably be held up against.
Bland, unremarkable, disappointing
But sadly our initial impressions were not promising. Despite having the power of the Xbox behind it, the graphics engine looks decidedly outdated. The texturing is bland, the scenery unremarkable, and even the cars fail to excite to any degree. GT3 comprehensively kicks Sega GT 2002's arse - still - which will come as a huge disappointment to Xbox owners looking to put one over their PS2 owning chums.
Purporting to be a "blend of deep simulation detail and high-octane arcade action" Sega GT 2002 strikes us immediately as being just plain annoying, and certainly lacking anything approaching fun, rewarding gameplay. The handling is the first thing that had us blowing a gasket. Admittedly the car choices at the early stage of the game are severely limited, but it feels like you're driving through porridge. The Peugeot 206 (which is the best car you can afford for the meagre Ł13,000 you get at the start) may win you a few of the initial races, but it's a chore even doing something as radical as steering. You find yourself constantly weaving to and fro, in a vague attempt to stop the car from hitting the sides, while cornering is a real drag.
Oh the agony
Bizarrely, at the end of every race you get to take pictures of your replay to 'hang in your garage'. How cute. This is a minor novelty to begin with, but becomes another hateful way to prolong the agony. And talking of agony, someone please shoot the people responsible for Sega's soundtracks. This kind of Japanese lift music is just beyond a joke these days, and just makes any right thinking gamer recoil in abject horror. In fact the audio all round is uniformly bad - witness the half arsed 'kerdunk' as you pile into a barrier at high speed. What were they thinking?
While there are undoubtedly rewards for progression (125 cars to choose from - including 'classic' cars, over 15 tracks (woo!), new modes, blah, blah), the motivation to go through the pain and misery to get there is just plain masochistic. No gamer should be expected to endure this kind of suffering in exchange for hard cash, and it's our duty to warn you of such gaming transgressions.
No alarms, no surprises
That Sega GT 2002 doesn't appear to be very exciting won't come as a huge surprise to those in the know. The Dreamcast original suffered a similar fate, and you have to wonder why Microsoft was so keen to ensure this title's exclusivity.
According to the big cheeses; "Sega GT 2002' delivers the most realistic driving experience on Xbox to date". Frankly, we don't believe it for a second. Project Gotham still holds that particular crown by a country mile.