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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Could SEGA GT Have Contended Better?

John B. Marine | 8:10 AM | | |
A lot of games challenged Gran Turismo's greatness with their own sim racing offerings. One such series had a very decent case to challenge Gran Turismo before Forza Motorsport did, and that was SEGA GT. I purchased the PC version of SEGA GT (which my PC at the time was surprisingly able to meet the minimal requirements of), and it made me think this could be a more-than-decent alternative to Gran Turismo. I also thought this was as close to Gran Turismo on PC at the time.


Before I Begin: My Credentials...

This post is based on my experiences with the PC version of SEGA GT, which is the ONLY SEGA GT experience I have.






Could SEGA GT Have Contended Better?


Allow me to share some thoughts.

SEGA GT
^ from: (PCGamingWiki) - Could SEGA GT been a better Gran Turismo contender? I tend to think so. This blog post will explain my reasoning and what it can take for SEGA GT to be its best ever.

Many people regard SEGA as one of the best gaming companies regarding racing games. They have had a history of quality racing games for decades. It began with OutRun and continued with the likes of the Hang-On series, Virtua Fighter, the Daytona USA series, SEGA Rally Championship series, and SEGA SCUD Race/Super GT, and even Crazy Taxi among others. So SEGA decided to try their hand at more simulation-type racing. This sim-oriented style began with the competitive "Ferrari 355 F1 Challenge." This game with Ferrari Challenge race cars was very realistic and unforgiving in its driving dynamcs. From these experiences, it was up to SEGA and WOW Entertainment to come up with a solid simulation style racing game to take on the great Gran Turismo franchise. Their effort was in the form of SEGA GT.

SEGA GT comes off as a Gran Turismo style game that SEGA Dreamcast owners (at the time) could be proud of- more the same way the later Forza Motorsport was a Gran Turismo XBOX types could be proud of. SEGA GT surely had a lot going for it when the first game in this three-game series was released in 2000. The first SEGA GT was released for Dreamcast and PC. Upon the sunset of the SEGA Dreamcast, the SEGA GT series moved on to the XBOX. The sequel to SEGA GT would come in the form of SEGA GT 2002 on the XBOX... and as an XBOX exclusive. That's right- no PC port of SEGA GT 2002 or even a port of the later SEGA GT Online. So if you wanted to continue playing and supporting this series, you'd better get an XBOX. After SEGA GT Online, the series basically died out. It was a good run while it lasted. To its credit, SEGA GT was never really ground-breaking. It did most of the same things Gran Turismo did, only GT was much better on various fronts.

As someone who likes seeing potential in things and wanting to be sort of solutions-oriented, it made me wonder why SEGA GT probably could have been a stronger contender against Gran Turismo than it eventually was. Even when SEGA no longer was involved in the console wars, SEGA GT could have still been a great game series in this day and age. That is why I created this commentary post regarding SEGA GT and why it could be a great racing series today even years since the last title of SEGA GT.


My Own Story and Thoughts.

Because of its PC port, I was intrigued to buy this game long ago. I wanted to be assured I could have the same love of racing in this game as I have been when I played Gran Turismo 1 and 2. I was right for the most part. I even alternated between playing this game on my old PC as well as my mother's laptop. The first SEGA GT had some very nice graphics. Since the Dreamcast was in the vein of the PS2/Gamecube/XBOX generation, this game obviously has much better graphics and graphic detail than GT1 or GT2. SEGA GT obviously looked much better for its generation compared to GT1 and GT2. However, just because a game is prettier than others doesn't mean it is better.


Now for a look at the positives and negatives of SEGA GT titles.




SEGA GT's Positives and Negatives


So what went right and wrong for SEGA GT? Let me explain...


What Went Right for SEGA GT?

There were some aspects that made SEGA GT stand out over Gran Turismo. The biggest thing going for SEGA GT was its Carrozzeria suite. Carrozzeria allows players to develop their own one-off cars to go racing with. Once a player bought a certain pre-configured car, the player can customize elements such as engine placement, drivetrain, engine type, engine displacement, body style, and color. Only Works cars can not be configured with a body style or any different colors. A lot of these Carrozzeria models were mostly cars that probably didn't make it into the game as proper models but are still distinguishable. For example, one car from Carrozzeria resembles a Lotus Esprit, though Lotus is not in SEGA GT. Carrozzeria did not have the customization like a later game- "Automation: The Car Tycoon Game," but Carrozzeria did give you the chance to build your own dream car in the world of SEGA GT... kind of.

SEGA GT also had drag racing. While Gran Turismo continually teased drag racing and not delivering, SEGA GT actually put in some drag racing. Don't expect a fully authentic experience of drag racing in SEGA GT. It's more like an added bonus. You're not going to get any true drag racing machines or anything, but you will get to try your luck going down the strip in a fine time.

What I felt was helpful in SEGA GT was sponsorship. You could earn extra money for winning pole position for a race and even in winning races. You could win more money with better driving performance- primarily preventing you from feeling you have to grind to win better machines. You still could grind a bit to get better upgrades for your car, but it is not really needed for the most part.

The SEGA GT series had an interesting blend of modern and classic cars. SEGA GT 2002 even had a mode where you started off with classic cars before working your way up to the modern models. The classic cars are nicely modeled and look great. Even the older models in the first SEGA GT were of fine quality.


What Went Wrong for SEGA GT?

What did I think were SEGA GT's biggest faults? I'd say SEGA GT's biggest flaw is that it has a complete lack of character. Basically, it was a racing game in which you can simply enjoy what Gran Turismo has perfected and improved on, only you don't need a PlayStation 1 or even a PlayStation 2 to play. SEGA GT simply did not have as much appeal as Gran Turismo first and foremost.

SEGA GT also suffered from rather boring race tracks. I basically thought SEGA was trying to make a simulation racing title without any compelling race courses. There are no licensed courses that I know of in any SEGA GT game. The first SEGA GT had some uninteresting race tracks besides the Night Section courses. Solid Circuit is maybe the most interesting course besides the Night Section courses in the first SEGA GT. SEGA GT 2002 and SEGA GT Online had longer and more interesting courses. Yet still, not as intriguing. I don't think SEGA GT needs any licensed courses, but many of the courses the series does have could be a lot better. I certainly don't think this game needs tracks like the Nürburgring Nordschleife for its track lineup to be of any interest.

One could also argue that SEGA GT games lacked a compelling lineup of cars. There would be types who complain that SEGA GT had your average set of Japanese cars, quite a few European cars, and not much American cars. People would even complain of SEGA GT not having cars from any of the big three- Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini. One car I loved seeing in the first SEGA GT that Gran Turismo games didn't have was the Renault Alpine A110- one of my personal favorite cars. The first SEGA GT didn't even have things like Racing Modifications. You can't add custom racing parts or anything to cars. The most engaging car in the first SEGA GT's lineup is the Dodge Viper GTS-R Concept Car- which is the cover car for the first SEGA GT.

Especially with the first SEGA GT, the game lacked a great driving model. The cars get up to speed about as quickly as in the Ridge Racer titles. The driving model and collision model were mostly laughable, especially in the first SEGA GT. Don't even get me started trying to win and use the Renault Clio V6 Race Car that you need to have to complete the base set of races in the first SEGA GT.

I don't particularly care for music as a factor of any game's success, but there were not any good songs to listen to. Most songs were just generic rock style songs with a little electronic dance music beats thrown in. No licensed music of any kind is in these games. I don't think any game needs a licensed soundtrack to be great on the music front. SEGA GT 2002 and SEGA GT Online had some very good music compared to the first title.


Now I mentioned where SEGA GT went right and went wrong. What could have made SEGA GT a better contender? Join me in the next section.




How SEGA GT Could Have Been Better


Here is my chance to be a solutions-oriented guy!

I think if SEGA wanted to be a contender against Gran Turismo, they need an infusion of character for their series. You are SEGA- you've made MANY great racing games. Why have such a mediocre or "just okay" racing game to challenge one of the finest racing game franchises ever? It is a fact SEGA GT was not adept at developing a simulation type racer. Despite this, a better product could still be delivered with a solid overall model. Even games like OutRun and Daytona USA have more character than SEGA GT.


Vehicles.

It seems sad that SEGA GT games couldn't utilize their Ferrari license when they developed the "Ferrari F355 Challenge" series. Having some Ferrari models would help. If they could pick up more of the impressive and interesting cars, it would help the vehicle lineup greatly. Then too, having such big-name companies mean nothing if the game itself isn't good. Just ask Squaresoft (now Square Enix) and their "Driving Emotion Type S" game. I would add some more cars from established European and American makes as well as a handful of other machines from some of the existing makes.

A future game called "Automation: The Car Company Tycoon" allowed players to create their own vehicles from the ground up with different options for tuning. If one has "BeamNG.Drive," one can take his/her creations from Automation and put them into BeamNG.drive to drive. SEGA GT should allow for the creation of unique vehicles through Carrozzeria but improve on its old method to more intricate models.


Locations.

Licensed content is not a must, but at least believable and engaging tracks are better than generic and boring courses. I wouldn't skimp out on a variety of different locales ranging from tarmac courses to off-road courses.

Tuning and customization options can be improved upon along with various tuning tweaks.


Racing.

Racing in SEGA GT is fairly uneventful and not as exciting. What has somewhat been the standard these days is having at least 12 cars to a track. Working in 16 is a good number to shoot for as far as cars to a track go. The first SEGA GT had an endurance style race at Night Section B as its long distance race. SEGA GT may want to try to implement a few true long-distance races including making regular sprint races last long enough to warrant pit stops. Really, it is possible to speed up tire wear and fuel consumption to simulate longer than usual races. Just do this for certain races and not all races, especially in longer races with faster cars.

Also, I would do away with rating cars and races based on displacement. You can't always assume high-displacement cars (usually north of 2000cc). For example, a 5th Generation Honda Prelude at around 2100cc should NOT be listed in the same class displacement wise as the Dodge/SRT Viper, Ford Mustangs, and even most classic American muscle cars.

They need to look at a variety of venues ranging from tarmac and non-tarmac courses. If they can strike a chord with finding an even balance of courses, that will help them greatly in providing gamers with many unique locales to race at.


Other Considerations...

There aren't too many more things I can recommend. A more-than-decent soundtrack won't hurt. You don't need top music talent if you are concerned about music in this game. You do, though, want something more memorable in menus and races. Even allow people to come up with their own soundtrack to play if they so choose to play music with their experience.



Could/Should SEGA GT Be Revived?


If SEGA wanted to try simulation racing again and in the vein of Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsport, SEGA has a lot to learn. Gran Turismo has found success of late with GT SPORT and how its races are structured. Forza Motorsport has been somewhat asleep, but Forza Horizon is going very strong. SEGA may also want to look at Project CARS 2 for sim racing insight.

Can SEGA GT survive in today's landscape of sim racing games? I don't really think so. However, if they can come up with something clever to surprise some people, it can go a long way to providing a new generation of SEGA GT to pleasantly surprise gamers. The game should be available across all the current systems in some capacity- Sony PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, XBOX One, PC/Mac... and maybe look to offer something for Android and iOS users if you can.





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