TGS 2003Sega GT Online Impressions

We try out a demo of the upcoming Xbox Live-enabled racer.

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Sega had a playable demo of Sega GT Online at its booth at Tokyo Game Show 2003. The game is the online-enabled follow-up to last year's Sega GT 2002 for the Xbox. The limited demo let us race against a second player in a two-lap race. We tried our hand at a few races to see how the game is coming together.

The game's basic interface has remained the same and should be familiar to fans of the original Sega GT. The main menu has a new online option that lets you set up a game. Sega GT Online lets you set up and host your own game, just join any current session that's marked "open." Once you've settled on that, you can pick your car and your course. The demo offered three courses to choose from and cars from two manufacturers. The final game will include over 165 cars available for use online and offline.

The actual races seem straightforward and play about as well as the original game did. If you're being outpaced, your opponent will be indicated with a large arrow that helps you keep tabs on their relative position, though these arrows will likely be more useful in races with three or more players. According to the documentation available at the show, Sega GT Online will support a maximum of four players online in a single race. In addition to letting you race, the final game will also let you trade parts, accessories, and even bet your cars' pink slips in online competition.

In terms of graphics, Sega GT Online is shaping up well and looks comparable to last year's game. The cars are modeled with a generous number of polygons and the environments are large and nicely detailed. Special effects such as heat haze and lighting also improve the game's presentation. Based on what we played, Sega GT Online should please fans who were disappointed that last year's game lacked online functionality. Sega GT Online is currently scheduled to ship this October in Japan and this November in the US.

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