I told you. I told you it’d come back. I told you I’d shoot but you wouldn’t believe me. And clearly I couldn’t have picked a better day than this holy day of Sunday to bring back YOUR FAVORITE COLUMN EVER, MEGADRIVING! And by favorite ever, I mean “he still writes this crap?”. And by picked, I mean forced into it since I missed last Thursday and I won’t be near a computer at all this upcoming Thursday. But I digress.
So, if you participate in the forums (AND YOU BETTER. GO THERE NOW.) or read the “Games of the Week” articles, you know my little obsession with a series called Gran Turismo. Truth be told, I’d rank it as my third favorite gaming franchise of all time, just behind Sonic and my lifeblood (and Alex Barbatsis’ favorite game ever), Tekken. So when I got my beloved Dreamcast and learned there was a Gran Turismo-esque game for it, I absolutely HAD to play it. So does the GT stand for Grand Tour in this case? Or is it rather Generic-ripoff Trash? Hit the jump to find out. (And yes, that totally counts because I used a hyphen to make it one word. I’m awesome.)
So, obviously, the premise is to be the Dreamcast’s version of Sony’s killer app. And boy, did they ever try to be as Gran Turismo-y as possible. Sure, having the same cars and track archetypes (small track set in a field; technical cornering track set in a nighttime city) is to be expected, and I’d been more shocked if those HADN’T made it in. But Sega even tried to emulate the presentation and such of GT, right down to pretty much having the same menu themes (black with red line patterns) as Gran Turismo 2. Add in the fusion jazz soundtrack, and you’ve got pretty much a better looking GT2 on arguably a better console, in theory.
And it was certainly better looking. Despite what the screenshots here show, you could actually make an argument for this being one of the best looking realistic titles the DC had to offer. Reflections on the cars looked much more realistic than GT2’s “EVERYTHING HAS A REFLECTIVE GLARE” system, with fabric bits of the car looking appropriately… fabricky? Yeah, let’s roll with that. It’s really rather amazing that the cars still look so good today, in my eyes, trumping some PS2 games even. And I will admit, that some of the tracks look pretty nice as well, although their layout design… Eh, let’s save that for the gameplay bit.
But sadly, that’s where the quality comparisons to Gran Turismo end.
That aforementioned fusion techno jazz soundtrack? Not good at all. The lone piece of music that plays on the city night stages? Hope you like women doing a flat “whoaaaaaaaaaaa” until they hit puberty and do their best wolf impersonation. And this is repeated every minute, it seems. The other tracks aren’t exactly stellar either, but that’s the one that’s gonna haunt my damn dreams every time I think about this game. The cars sound ok, but there isn’t exactly a lot of diversity between makes and models. And when your main competition can boast authentic sounds from nearly every car in the game, and you can’t? That’s a problem.
But not as big a problem as the gameplay. To be blunt, it’s a damn mess. When a 4WD car controls just as loosely as a FR car, in a simulation genre game, that’s bad. When your Grip setting in arcade mode is just a mildly, MILDLY, tamer version of the Drift setting (which is COMPLETELY uncontrollable, at least in my hands, no matter what car I try), that’s bad. When your tracks have more blind corners than Stevie Wonder could shake his blind-man cane at, that’s bad. When the brakes are so unreliable you’re forced to ride the walls just to remotely be slow enough to take a corner? You know where this is going. And even that’s unreliable, considering you get freighttrain’d by the rest of the field once you take a corner. And steering is a mess no matter if you use button or stick, or what car/settings you choose. Wanna try to correct your direction on the straights? Prepare to veer straight into the wall. Trying all you can to be able to take that sharp-ass corner? Hello understeer! It’s just a frustrating mess that can’t even begin to compare to its Playstation rival.
I dunno, maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I just cannot recommend this game at all. It takes more than impressive graphics to get me to love a game, and this game didn’t have that “more”.
Others must’ve seen this as well, as the game didn’t exactly fly of the shelves at all. A sequel was made for the XBox in 2002, shockingly dubbed Sega GT 2002, which I haven’t played for obvious reasons, but it failed to garner numbers as well, even ending up being packaged with Jet Set Radio Future (now THAT’S a game I wanna play sometime) just to get it off the shelves and Sega warehouses somehow.
Just such a damn shame. If they’d gotten the gameplay right, this is a series that could’ve been up there with GT and Forza these days, but it wasn’t to be.
So, yeah. You know the drill. Comments, requests, hateful messages that would make an outlaw biker cry, and the like, can be left here, or in the forum thread. I’ll see you guys in about two weeks, after I’ve properly experienced the power and glory that is Gran Turismo 5. Thanks for reading.