Review by Dexterbrain

"About as original as my one line review introductions!"

If there is one arcade racing game that can boast a following that matches (or can even beat) Sega Rally Championship, it would have to be Daytona USA. Whereas SRC offered a realistic arcade experience, Daytona USA had the speed and accessibility. Yes, the SRC fans would cry that SRC was the realistic experience that required hard study for someone to really be good (and that Daytona USA didn't), but that was what made Daytona USA so great. The simple beginner track allowed endless super close finishes with multi players, and the infinite crashes that were so easily forgiven in the name of fun made this a classic. And the claims that a halfwit could be great at Daytona USA in one or two races? Try racing the Expert track and say that!

However, that was many a year ago. Hell, I was still in primary school when I first played Daytona USA and SRC! This is a new age of gaming and obviously Sega realises this and decided to give the old girl a makeover, thus Daytona USA 2 was born. And like any makeover of Sega's, it doesn't fail to impress. Graphically I say that this is typical of Sega i.e. of outstanding quality. Although the graphics are not of picture quality the graphics in D2 really makes Daytona fans feel right at home. The textures are sublime and extremely detailed, but it retains the sheer size that made Daytona USA unique. For example Virtua Racing has its suspension bridge for eye candy, Sega Rally 2 has some nice houses along the road, D2 has a HUGE swinging pirate ship going right over you at the start of the Advanced course. Everything in Daytona USA was blown completely out of proportion to silly levels, and thankfully D2 keeps this tradition. The cars also look the part and are outlandishly painted and designed. There is nothing here that would make your jaw drop, but you will be impressed by how the graphic designers kept the quality of the graphics so high whilst still keeping the graphical feel of the first game.

These graphics make for lavish tracks, of which there are four. You have the Beginner course (with a few corner changes and more realistic scenery), the Advanced course (in a theme park setting, a relatively short track with sweeping bends and no corners requiring too much concentration), the Expert track (set in and around a city, a very long track where knowledge of the corners is essential if you want to survive the many testing corners) and finally the 'special' track (where all three tracks are linked to create a super long, one lap race). Each track has its highlights graphically, whether it be the inside of a make believe castle in the Advanced course, the stadia splendour in the Beginner course or the long drawing distance all the way to the bottom of the many hills in the Expert course.

You now have a choice of four cars, which will come as a pleasant surprise to many people sick and tired of seeing the same Hornet logo at the back of the car EVERY race in Daytona USA. The four cars are classed: Easy (good grip, bad top speed), Normal (all rounder), Hard (bad grip, good top speed) and Special (the Hornet car). Well, this game was never going to win any prizes for originality! But hey, the cars do their job well, and look good too, and I'm not going to complain if I have a choice here. The naming of the cars and tracks also conforms to another age-old rule of arcade games – keep it simple. If things are simple, there is less to confuse the gamer, so they like the game more on the first go, thus more money rolls into the machine.

Anyway, lets talk gameplay. After all, this isn't meant to be art and just looked at, it needs playing! First go (on the Beginner course, naturally) was not disappointing but certainly not heart stopping. It remains faithful to the original – too faithful. Apart from the redesigned corners, narrower track and new looks, the gameplay was straight out of the first game, just barging your way to the front in any fashion. Even the extremely loud engine noise and music is synonymous with the first game (although this is a very good thing, I mean on a console version of Daytona the engine sounds more like a lawnmower than a 700 BHP stock car like in the arcade). I would have liked to have seen new gameplay elements set, say for example a mandatory pit stop, which certainly isn't a hard thing for new players to do (and the pit stops could all take the exact same time to give best overall times credit rather than a 'but my pit stop was terrible' scenario). This element alone would have given countless new race tactics, say as a way to avoid traffic coming along or trying for an early pit stop in the hope of using other cars to 'slingshot of (or draft). The hardcore players would have a new tactic at their disposal. This option could also be turned off if you didn't want it on (remember choice is good). But that is just an example, and there is no use in beating around the bush over what could have been. So in goes another pound coin and the chance to try the Advanced track.

I select the Advanced course and this time the differences aesthetically between the last game's Advanced track and this game's is vast . The great graphics were beautifully realised here in what is the most impressive track graphically. The track was good to race on, many fast straights and bends with about three places where a little thoughtful braking and power sliding is required, and even they are pretty easy stuff. I enjoyed this course a whole lot more because I was actually crashing (although I wasn't to happy about that at the time!) The reason I enjoyed crashing afterwards? Because it needed practise. This wasn't a pick up and play track, it was one that even to the hardcore fraternity would require a little knowledge to race well. It was at this point that another major point came to me that didn't on the Beginner track – the handing had changed Well the handing had changed very little but still the small refinements made to the power sliding and cornering were noticeable. Power sliding is now a much easier process and certainly a lot less mechanical feeling than its older counterpart, with more amount of control being applicable to the slide using the accelerator, and the classic tight handling being tuned even better. However using the old 'Shift from Gear 4 to Gear 2 to slide' tactic that was so beloved in Daytona USA in this game will leave you sliding 360 degrees in this game unless clever control is used of the steering wheel. The developers obviously wanted the game players to be able to use the brake a lot more to get into power slides, and with good reason. I still remember that some players (including myself) could, if tested, complete the Expert course on Daytona USA without a brake, but huge use of the gearshift, and although you wouldn't get record lap times with it the idea that someone could essentially become good at the game without even knowing how to use such an important part of any game as the brake properly was quite alarming. So this is one tweak I certainly welcome.

Being ever more impressed, I breathe in and challenge the Expert course. You think D1's Expert course was hard, well at least that didn't have a 280 degree corner to power slide round! The first thing that strikes you are the buildings that literally surround you coupled with an incredible draw distance. This really was something. The second thing that strikes you is after one straight race you know that this is a course that will really test a gamer, as I found out when I saw the variety of corners. It makes the D1 Expert course look tame in comparison in places The track does look good too, and racing it is a pleasurable challenge. A just under two minute lap, with the race going on for four laps this isn't only the best track, it is the best value for money. I was in absolute heaven, D1 only had two laps on the Expert course, and here is D2's Expert course with 4 laps! I had a smile stretching from both ears. One more track to try, the Special course. The Special course just puts all of these experiences together and therefore demands good knowledge of all these courses, however this is a one lap experience and certainly doesn't represent the value for money the Expert course has. But still, a good multiplayer challenge I'm sure this will be, testing knowledge and nerve on all three tracks.

So the tweaked handling, a choice of cars, good tracks and (apart from the lax time limits given to every course) makes this game a winner. Being impressed with the game overall, and giving a glowing report, why than have I given this game an eight rather than a nine or even ten? The answer is really simple. The game isn't Daytona 2, it's more of a Daytona 1.1 in that it is an improved version but is far from a huge step from the original. No one, especially me, would have wanted the Daytona series to dramatically change in terms of its gameplay in terms of handling, and admittedly the developers had a really tough challenge if they were to try to make this game different from D1 but similar enough not to lose the original fans. But there is absolutely no evidence here whatsoever that there was even a half attempt to try to innovate the game with new game modes or added tactical gameplay elements.. This is a classic makeover – different looking on the outside, but the same on the inside. The bottom line is that this game has excelled graphically, but the game is still exactly the same at heart. And with so many years gone by, and with the competition from all the arcades and consoles that Daytona 2 has to compete with, it really has to do better than this. Don't totally ditch the game, but you won't get a lot of originality for your money.

Final score – 8/10.
The game is very good, but if you are after new thrills try something else, because this is the classic early 90's gameplay in 00's graphics.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 01/03/03, Updated 01/03/03

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