Review by Eric43
"Sega has made an excellent racing game."
Sega may be known as one of the most famous corporations in the gaming world, not just for their console work such as Sonic the Hedgehog, but for their contributions to arcade gaming, particularly in the realm of racing games. Built upon the success of acclaimed arcade racers such as Outrun, Virtua Racer, Daytona USA, and Scud Race, Toshihiro Nagoshi used his ingenuity to design this game. Back in 1998, Sega had released a Nascar-esque racer to follow up the success of its predecessor, Daytona USA. Radical changes were taken to ensure a fresh new experience as well as to accommodate for the increase in graphics, but the core gameplay remains the same: pick a car, a track, and a transmission and try to win the race. However, there's no need to be a back-of-the-woods redneck (I can assure you that I am not) to like this game, and I'll explain.
Daytona USA 2 offers just about the slickest graphics there is. The graphics over the years have expanded greatly, and this game, though it is an arcade game, looks like a next-gen console game, save a few "polygonal" objects such as the people in the intro movie. The framerate remains at a steady +60 fps and the courses and vehicles are lush with detail. There is even an intro movie, complete with racing action as well as "tips to win" which present the basics on powersliding and other racing tactics. What readers ought to be aware of is even though there are two versions of this game, Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge and Daytona USA 2: Power Edition, the gameplay remains the same but with some changes between the versions, such as a completely remade Beginner course as well as an additional car resembling the Hornet from Daytona USA 1. Overall, the Power Edition is a bit more "polished," but both versions of the game are very, very good.
The standard fare is to choose one of three courses. There is the Beginner course, an indoor dome complete with loads of vegetation, rock caves, and a waterfall, but in the Power Edition, it is a well-detailed Nascar-esque track meant to closely resemble the Daytona National Speedway. Either track is great, depending on the player's tastes. There is an Advanced course, which takes place in an amusement park, complete with a haunted castle, a space port, a derailed train in the Wild West, a terrifying roller coaster, as well as several tricky turns. Clearly, this course is as exotic as it gets when it comes to race courses. here is the Expert course, which is a very realistic city-based course which takes many sharp turns past skyscrapers, along highways, and through tunnels to complete. An extra bonus is a special Challenge course, which strings all three courses into a single run. Not necessary, but a very unique gimmick. All in all, Sega has given only three courses, but they are, without a doubt, some of the most craftiest courses around.
There are three cars to choose from, including a special Hornet car, which is a higher-polygon version of its Daytona 1 counterpart. The cars range from Easy to Medium to Hard, and each of them boasts its own "fake" advertisements, such as the "Chums Gum/JC Eagle" car, the "Scorpio Batteries" car, or the ever-scary "Phantom Full Force" car, with it's own intimidating looks. Each car handles just about the same, except the more difficult cars trade downforce for raw power, and it can especially be seen in the Phantom car, which blows everyone away at 215 miles per hour. The Hornet car, however, is a Daytona USA fan's dream; it's as good as a 94' Chevy Lumina will ever get. Each car has its own feeling to it, so players may get to like all four of them. There is also the option to choose manual or automatic transmission, with manual requiring the four-gear shifter. Unlike most arcade racers, manual transmission is encouraged due to more refined control over acceleration and handling.
Races are a standard fare of driving through the checkpoints, passing opponent cars, and finishing the race before time runs out. The framerate really accommodates to the perfect sense of speed, but at the same time, offers the perfect sense of control. For instance, cars don't just "blast" off like rocket ships; Sega has provided ample time to react to turns and other obstacles, yet at the same time, the speed doesn't give up at all. Because of this, the gameplay is so fulfilling in the sense that drivers have a unique feel with the car as if they are "enslaving" it, yet at the same time, they are required to provide more than 100% control out of their car to succeed. Daytona USA 2, like its predecessor, allows powerslides (AKA drifting, to put the car nearly sideways to turn sharper) to permit advanced driving techniques. To powerslide, a bit of brake-tapping or, even better, downshifting is in order. Turn in, pull back to avoid spinning out, and counter-steer to straighten out. It's not a ridiculous system, but a very fulfilling one which still requires the player to take very technical driving techniques, such as taking the best path through turns. Unlike Daytona USA, powerslides require the gas to be held down throughout the slide in order to maintain speed, but it is not much of a difference.
The car's visuals in-game are outstanding. There are four camera views, along with several hidden ones, which can portray the car's constant vibration at high speeds, the tire marks and smoke from burning rubber, and the car's shift in weight during turns. However, Nascar races are renowned for their devastating wrecks, and Daytona USA 2 does not disappoint. Dare I say that with the walls, the grass, the opponents, and the possibility of a spinout that there will be vicious wrecks and down-and-dirty collisions. Daytona USA 2 provides a very "violent" damage system which can have cars' hoods and trunks bob up and down in the wind, damaged suspensions resulting in excessive "bouncing," as well as gritty scratches along the sides. Rubbing walls at high speeds can be leave a mark, but it can get much worse. A high-velocity collision with the wall or a "down-and-out opponent" will lead to a nasty crash, resulting in the car going airborne, but like all good arcade games the car will return to earth on four wheels, but not without a speed loss and a damaged fender. The AI may be stupid through the first half of the pack, but they will give players' their money's worth and jostle and fight to win. The only minor problem with this is that the damage models can become a bit too gratuitous, as even in perfect races, the AI can play bumper cars at high speeds, but it's not going to ruin the experience one bit.
Daytona USA 2 caters to more senses than just sight and feeling. The sound is top-notch. As the car is screaming down the track at 200+ mph, the engine sounds are PERFECT. A hollow "vrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaahhhhh" can be heard, and it's sure to give die-hard racing fans a chill down their spine and make hair stand on edge. Sounds of tire-screeching, engine revving up and down, and impacts are given off perfectly. Probably the lower point on the sound is the pit chief, who has the tendency to say some stupid and pointless things such as "Try to go easy on the tires!" and "Guard that rear bumper!," but he fits in very well, accompanied with the sound effects and music. Some of his best lines include telling the players how many laps remain and the ever-useful "Heyheyhey, you're looking good!"
Unlike Daytona USA, which featured goofy tunes such as "Rollllliiinnngg Sttarrrrttt!!," Daytona 2 has gone the route of a rock-extensive beat, featuring a fluent English singer, guitars, and keyboards. It's not the standard "country rock" fare popular with Nascar, but it sure does capture the whole Daytona feel perfectly. The songs on the presentation and menu select are both guitar-heavy tunes which are sure to get racers in the mood, if they aren't already. The in-game music is a mix of rocking-out and dramatic race tunes which are sure to accompany the playing just fine. However, music is music, so one person may love it while another may hate it.
The racing in this game is so fulfilling that people may pick it up over and over again; however, the learning curve is a bit more steep since the clock demands more from the player other than turning left and right. It can be a casual player's nightmare, but it's going to require a few plays from the more intense gamer, and it's sure to be some of the most well-spent money around. There is also the option to race in "Time Lap" mode with no other AI opponents, or the successful multiplayer, carried over from Daytona USA. All of these things, combined with the in-depth tracks, cars, multiplayer, and the possibility of an endurance race mode, can give very long replay value. However, it is an arcade game, and it costs money to play, plus there's only so many courses and cars to choose from. It may last for a long time or for just a little while, but every run ought to be an engaging experience from start to finish. Players should at least give the game a shot. With the ever-dying arcade industry, there ought to be room out there for more than just DDR and Cruisn' World.
Presentation: 10/10 -- Good, very good. The attract screens are great. The interface is very slick and well-made. The arcade cabinet setup is nice.
Gameplay: 10/10 -- Driving is perfect. Fluid steering, acceleration, deceleration, and shifting are attributed to this.
Graphics: 9.5/10 -- Framerate contributes greatly to the whole experience. Courses and cars are very detailed, but a few bits and pieces here and there aren't next-gen enough.
Sound: 9/10 -- Sound effects are right on. Music capures the mood very well. The announcer is a bit annoying at times but he is usually tolerable.
Replay Value: 9.5/10 -- Just playing the game is a whole lot of fun. Each course and each car offers its own layer of diversity, but a few more courses would've been nice. Sega, why haven't you updated this game since 1998?
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 10/02/06, Updated 07/09/09
Game Release: Daytona USA 2 (US, 12/31/98)
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