The Sega Dreamcast odyssey continues this week as I pluck SEGA GT from the ever dwindling collection of Dreamcast games that I own. I am not the biggest racing sim fan, but I enjoyed the original Gran Turismo at the time and even owned a Forza game on the 360. So I am obviously the target market for this kind of game.
SEGA GT is a racing game, so you know… You drive cars around a track. SEGA GT is as the GT part of the name give away, a rival to the previously mentioned Gran Turismo, so the game isn’t standard arcade racing action with no depth. No, SEGA GT is fucking RPG racing game. You start off in the junkers league, buying up the best worst car your piddly money can afford. You enter races where if one car hits 80mph the planet will erupt into spontaneous earthquakes. You slowly eek out races either winning races because you’re a racing spod who understands cornering, and car mechanics, and boring things such as braking distances, or you razz around a track coming last slowly accumilating enough cash to buy a new set of break pads, or hopefully an engine that isn’t the single biggest contributor to climate change than Donald Trump’s fake tan. You git gud by skill, or git good by eventually buying a better car much like teenage boyracers this game is marketed at in my head.
As you earn more money you supe your car, or buy better cars from an array of real world brands from a list of cars I am reliably informed are real.
Along side this, you compete in licencing races where if you beat the series you’ll earn a licence. The “E” licence is where the plebs be at, driving those junkers around a track hoping to finish before your car implodes, through “B”, “A”, and “SA” ranks where you’ll find the supercars that are so angular it gives Pythagoras an erection.
Suffice to say, it is the kind of game you can spend 20 minutes just going for a spin on arcade mode with limited depth, or you enter career mode and say goodbye to months of your life. Again, I am not the biggest fan of the genre, but I can see the appeal.
The issues of the genre
The main draw of this genre is the career mode, and again, I get it… It just isn’t for me.
I want something that is a mix of arcade and career. I want to start with a Blue and Yellow Subaru Impretza and I want to wank around the Nürburgring (not actually a racable track in GT…). Instead, you have to play the career and slowly unlock things. The issues come from the time this takes. There isn’t many tracks (less than 10) and the licences involves you driving around those same tracks in different cars trying to beat a certain time. It is actually pretty boring trying to drive a max speed of 80mph car around a track as learning frame perfect timing is pretty boring at such low speeds. I would honestly rather they said “here is a Ferrari, beat this track in 32 seconds” but no, it is beat this track in a skip in 2:30 but your top speed is walking pace.
Yeah this makes sense, but the lack of track variety is dull. I was able to enter “A” Licence races and be a split second away from qualifying, but be 10 seconds out in the junkers. But you need the junkers to progress to earn that crust to buy the cars to drive in better races. The slow races don’t really teach you the mechanics of driving, it isn’t a progressive learning curve to teach you the tips and tricks. It amounts to a slightly dull, grind heavy experience where unless you are optimum levelling and buying the right cars, and the right upgrades you get stuck for needlessly long time doing the same 3-4 event series earning a mediocre crumb then you are going to get stuck in needless grind.
Each event is 3-4 races, with 2+ laps per race and a qualifying session. Qualifying on Poll will give you £1000 or more, but don’t bother. Try the first race qualifier and if you’re more than 1 second off the pace don’t bother again. The qualifier times bare no relation to the speed of cars you’ll face. I was often 8 seconds behind in qualifying, but had overtaken most cars by 2nd corner. It also doesn’tbecome more realistic later, when you have that suped-up car, as you’ll suddenly be bumper caring around and still beating the lap times by a good 1 seconds. So unless you’re desperate for the qualify first bonus, just start last and overtake.
One issue more specific to this game is the controls are a little bit sloppy on the Dreamcast pad, other racing games on the console didn’t have this issue, but the Analogue stick feels a little stiff to control, while the D-pad is jittery as fuck requiring 100 presses and counter-presses to get the turn just right. Added on top of this is some poor physics where until you pay for suspension upgrades your car will bounce around like a moon buggy.
The tracks aren’t great, they aren’t modeled on real life tracks (that I am aware of), but that isn’t their big problem. The big problem is the games lighting. Lots of tracks have almost invisible corners that come out of nowhere. The lighting is so dark, and washed out at range that it is next to impossible to see what is coming up. Sure you’ll learn this after playing each track 100 times, but it makes for a frustrating experience. Sure, spinning out on a hair-pin bend makes sense if you misjudge speed, but driving headfirst into a wall because it isn’t clear there is a wall there (not an invisible barrier) is poor design. To counter this you could turn the contrast to 100% but again, that’s poor game design. If you play the track 1000 times (which you will by the time you beating “SA” licence) you’ll be smashing records with your eyes closed. But it is frustrating getting to that point.
There is a tonne of depth to Sega GT. I am just not sure it is worth playing for. You will find thousands of hours of content to get through, but it’s a racing game and if they are really your bag then you’ll probably want to play whichever the latest racing game is. The graphics are alright, it was a Dreamcast after all it still looks decent, but newer racing games with have more shiney realistic cars, better modelling, better tracks, better soundtracks, and better physics. All of which are ultimately why a petrol-head will play this kind of game. It’s like playing last seasons Football Manager. You just wouldn’t in good conscious do it.
Add 10 – 15% to my score if you think playing a clunkier version of your favourite racing games is your idea of the perfect game.
Cons: Controls, moon buggy physics, lack of banging soundtrack.
Back in the Day:
Reviews were favorable for SEGA GT with most scores falling in the mid 70s to mid 80s, with a few outlyers giving it as low as 60s and the occasional 90.
The PC release would score badly getting a measly 20% from PC Gamer.
Also Available on: Windows PC.