Review by markoos

Reviewed: 12/08/02 | Updated: 12/08/02

Time has not been kind

Back in 1994, Daytona USA was THE best racer around. A quick peep around any Arcade would reveal rows of linked up Daytona machines, which were almost invariably occupied. One of the first ever ''fully textured'' 3D racing games (ie - not Virtua Racing), it featured amazing graphics and an unforgettable soundtrack (#Daytona! Let's go aaawwaaay!#). The game was subsequently converted to both the Saturn and PC, but the results were a little disappointing - especially compared with the graphical loveliness of the Playstation's Ridge Racer and the PC's Screamer.

Later came the Saturn Daytona CCE which added much needed extra tracks and graphical improvements - yet somehow the magic was gone. Shortly after came Daytona Deluxe for the PC, which was essentially CCE with a new PC exclusive circuit. The final nail in the coffin of the series was the horribly mis-conceived Arcade Daytona 2 which saw the originals elegance replaced with pointless futurism and gimmicky circuits. It may have been a good game in its own right, but it certainly wasn't Daytona.

And so 7 years after the original Arcade title, comes the Dreamcast version. Featuring the original 3 circuits, the 2 new ones from CCE and 3 brand new ones (but sadly missing Silver Speedway from PC Daytona Deluxe), Daytona USA 2001 attempts to resurrect the true spirit of the original. Have they succeeded? Well yes and no. Firstly, while for the first time ever, the notoriously pop-up-full series is now completely clipping free, the palette of colours is all messed-up - it just looks too bright and gaudy! This isn't Mario Kart! The sound is faithful to the original, yet sadly serves to remind you that the music wasn't good at all, but was in fact utterly utterly awful. In fact this seems to be a recurring theme - whilst it is faithful to the original, the fact is that the original hasn't aged very well at all.

They have tried to add some depth though. For instance, there's now a Championship mode which was sorely lacking from EVERY other Daytona game ever. Sadly it's left somewhat redundant by the fact that it's virtually impossible to progress anywhere thanks to an unforgiving difficulty level. The split screen multi-player mode is pretty fun mind you, remaining just as smooth as the 1-player game throughout. All in all, it has to be said that the new features are generally rather disappointing. Out of the 3 new circuits, 2 are just repetitive ovals and only the great Rin Rin Rink is really worthwhile.

So then - whilst in 1994 Daytona was the king, things have sadly moved on. This renders Daytona USA 2001, on one hand an interesting blast from past, but on the other, a dated and rather average racing experience. In the days of Gran Turismo, Wipeout Fusion and Project Gotham, 8 tracks, a handful of cars and very little replayability simply don't cut it anymore. It's a shame, but at this stage they really ought to put the series to rest.

GRAPHICS - 7/10 - The best looking Daytona ever and very smooth, but spoilt by a gaudy palette which gives the game an almost cartoony appearance.

SOUND - 5/10 - Oh dear! The tunes which seemed so cool all those years ago, really do sound bloody awful now! The sound of 40 cars bombing around the 777 Speedway still never fails to impress though.

GAMEPLAY - 6/10 - The enormous amount of on-screen racers makes for some excitement, but all in all the Daytona experience falls flat in comparison to the high octane/painfully realistic racers of this age. The end result is largely dull and uninspired.

LIFESPAN - 5/10 - Out of the eight circuits, 3 are bland ovals and there's only about 5 selectable vehicles. With the championship mode being unfairly difficult, only the multi-player mode is likely to draw players back.

OVERALL - 6/10 - Not especially awful, but nevertheless Daytona these days can only disappoint you. As an oddity from a past age it works, but the lack of depth and dated gameplay can't rise it higher than this. Oh how the mighty have fallen

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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