A technical feat, as well as a perfectly fine game.

User Rating: 9 | Le Mans 24 Hours DC
The Dreamcast is a console that garnered so little attention. The Americans weren't happy with the Saturn being a flop and those who bought it didn't like that Sega was announcing a new console so soon. The Japanese didn't see a good reason for it yet, given that the Saturn was successful in Japan and actually competed rather vigorously with the PlayStation. As a result, most people ignored the new console and it was then pretty well smothered by the PlayStation 2's announcement. As a result, the thing couldn't prove itself to the people and Sega had to kill it off less than 2 years after its release. It's games like Test Drive Le Mans, though, that show what this pint-sized console was truly capable of.

So why not get the technical stuff done first? Test Drive Le Mans strategically renders its graphics to avoid frame rate issues (of which there are very few, remarkably), and it's very believable when you're driving at 89 miles per hour down through Le Mans. The scenery closest to the player are realistic static meshes, while further back, if you look pretty hard, you can see the wall texture made to look like trees. That way, it looks like far more than what it is, and it successfully assists the console in keeping up the pace. It works very well though, and I hadn't noticed for a long time.

The car detail is astonishing, as in Gran Turismo's tier. They look very smooth and realistic, and this was even more impressive to me than the scenery trick. Then there's the lighting. All the cars must be waxed before the race because the way light reflects off your car looks like something you'd be seeing in a much newer racing game. The shadows are even affected by the time in Le Mans races. As the clock winds down, the shadows will very slowly begin to shift as if the sun were actually shining on it. Basically, it's a Dreamcast Gran Turismo in graphics, though in gameplay plays much more arcade-style.

The sound is also realistic. Your car will be making lots of noise, though these are high-speed cars. The music isn't supposed to get you going, more just give you something to listen to in the background. Thankfully, it isn't distracting at all and it will usually play in your sub-conscious as you drive.

That's not to say that this is some Need for Speed though. This is arcade-style based on realistic physics and realistic handling. Some tracks will be much more straight as opposed to having all the curves of Need for Speed. You won't be powersliding around sharp turns or anything either, though you have to take it like an actual car. And that's not to say it's some boring game. It definitely doesn't intend to reach your adrenaline like most racers, though if you can stand that fact, then you should do fine.

The other cars will move if you're about to pass them and will try not to come in too much contact with others most times. They are challenging though, if you crank the difficulty up, and not too bad for beginners. Beginners will even get auto-brake, which I'm sure isn't a bad thing for those who are learning racing games. If you're more experienced, then you probably won't care for it, though you probably won't be playing the beginner's difficulty either.

A definitive Dreamcast game, not only providing technical prowess, though some very good gameplay to go with it. It didn't stick with me as long as other arcade-style racers have, though I kept with it longer than I even thought I would.