SEGA GT Online Xbox
Developed by WOW Entertainment
Released - February 6th 2004
Price : £29.99
The Xbox has always been well blessed when it comes to racing games. One of the best racing titles to date on the Xbox is SEGA GT 2002. The game offered a similar experience to Gran Turismo as you bought a car and worked your way through the various licences as challenges. As the game progressed you would have to upgrade your car (with the various performance enhancing parts on offer), or buy new cars, in an effort to get the fastest thing on four wheels. Of course the only element missing from SEGA GT 2002 was an online mode, simply because at the time of its release the Xbox Live service wasn't up and running. With Xbox Live having proved very popular though it made a lot of sense to release SEGA GT Online.
In case you're wandering, SEGA GT Online isn't really a sequel as such. A more accurate description would be to think of the game as SEGA GT 2002 gold edition with Xbox Live support. SEGA GT Online offers all that SEGA GT 2002 had plus some exciting extras. There are now well over 150 cars in the game thanks to the addition of forty more. SEGA GT Online includes SEGA GT 2002, Quick Battle, Chronicle Mode, Time Attack, Replay Studio, Gathering Mode and of course the online mode. Best of all though is that SEGA GT Online lets you import your saved game from SEGA GT 2002 so don't have to begin at the bottom if you don't want to. If you want a driving game to last you for many months to come this certainly fits the bill.
The SEGA GT 2002 mode is the heart of the game and it's where you will progress through the ranks and earn your licenses. You begin with a small amount of money so you'll have to pick an affordable car from the car shop. Personally I recommend one of the Toyota models but in all you have a choice of around half a dozen cars that fall within your price range. If you've got any money left you could buy some performance enhancing parts to increase the efficiency of your car. To earn more money (points) to buy parts you'll have to compete in races. You have a choice of official races (comprised of different stages with a license test at the end of each stage) and event races. You have to finish third or higher to complete a race. Event races offer all kinds of different races such as one type races (where each car is identical), drag races, and winding races that are one against races that take part on horrendously difficult roads. SEGA GT 2002 mode is where you'll spend the bulk of your time as the cars you acquire here can be taken online.
Other modes in the game are equally enjoyable. Quick Battle is for those one-off races for 1,2,3, and 4 players. Chronicle mode is where you choose a car and take part in a series of races. These races begin in the seventies (the same era as your car you choose) and each of the six races is in a different era. There are six races in all and you'll need to finish third or higher to clear the race. At the end of the race, assuming you've cleared it, you'll be given points to upgrade your vehicle so that you can compete with the more modern cars in the next race. Chronicle mode is a tough challenge because you can't save it so if you fail on one race you'll have to begin again. Time Attack is exactly as you would expect and is simply a race against the clock although it's a useful way of simply practicing a track of your choice. Gathering Mode is full of challenges and if they are successfully completed you'll unlock extra cars to buy in SEGA GT 2002 mode.
Of course if you own SEGA GT 2002 what you really want to know about is the online mode. If you're accustomed to other Xbox Live games you'll be familiar with the Quick Match (drops you into any available race) and Optimatch (which allows you to find an available race depending on the criteria you set). You can also create your own races, view the ranking tables and enter competitions. Trading cars and parts is also an option which should appeal to a lot of gamers out there. You can even take part in 12 player races, which is both technically impressive and great fun. It's fair to say that the online options have been a great addition to the game.
Graphically it's a bit of a mixed bag. The cars themselves look great, however there isn't any damage modelling and your cars will have that showroom look throughout the entire race no matter how many bumps and scrapes you have during a race. The look of the scenery and spectators is quite basic and isn't up to either the quality of the cars or Xbox games in general. In the games defence though the framerate simply flies along with no dips at all even in the online races.
There is little to comment on really when talking about how deaf gamer friendly SEGA GT Online is. The single player side of the game is absolutely fine, as all the information is in text with no speech at all. As you would expect a driving game causes few problems for deaf gamers. Online though, all communication is via voice, which is unfortunate. However this isn't the fault of the game or SEGA themselves. Currently the Xbox Live setup doesn't allow for the use of keyboards and it's assumed that you are able to voice communicate, an assumption which is not always correct. Still there are no problems actually competing in the races.
SEGA GT Online is a great addition to any Xbox Live gamer's collection. Whilst some may argue that it could have been a completely new game rather than an expanded SEGA GT 2002, it must be remembered that the game will only cost £29.99 (some places on the Internet are only charging £24.99) and for that you get the whole of SEGA GT 2002, which is still sold for £19.99 and a nice collection of extras with the ability to race online. If you don't have or intend to have Xbox Live then purchasing SEGA GT Online is only advisable if you don't already own SEGA GT 2002. The online races make it a complete package and any Xbox Live racing fan really ought to have SEGA GT Online in their collection.
Game Rating: 8.7/10
SEGA GT Online will be a must own title for all those who either missed out on SEGA GT 2002 or who enjoy racing on Xbox Live.
No problems for deaf gamers with SEGA GT Online. The Xbox Live service really needs to have a text chat option though.