Gran Turismo 4

Gran Turismo 4
Game: Gran Turismo 4
Platform: Playstation 2
Studio: Sony
Rating: 9/10

GAME STUDIO DESCRIPTION: Automotive racing is much more than a sport, it’s a lifestyle and it comes to PlayStation®2 as the greatest automotive racing simulation returns in Gran Turismo™4. As the fourth installment of the worldwide blockbuster-selling Gran Turismo series, Gran Turismo 4 is available exclusively for the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system. Developed by Polyphony Digital Inc., the latest version of Gran Turismo 4 further demonstrates its mission to provide the most authentic driving simulation available in the marketplace. The new features will extend above and beyond just pure automotive racing, providing a unique destination for automotive and PlayStation 2 enthusiasts to enjoy car culture in every dimension – extending that goal will be highlighted through new modes such as “GT Director Mode / B-spec” and “GT Photo Mode.” In addition, enhanced popular features will return with “Gran Turismo Mode” and “Gran Turismo Arcade Mode.”

Following in the footsteps of the PlayStation 2 “Greatest Hit,” Gran Turismo™3 A-spec, and a racing franchise that has sold more than 38 million units worldwide, Gran Turismo 4 features authentic racing gameplay that focuses on more than 700 cars(encompassing 80 manufacturers), more than 50 courses and unique race modes. With an all-new physics engine and an all-new artificial intelligence engine, combined with revolutionary technology, Gran Turismo 4 delivers enhanced, if not perfected, game physics, graphics, and feel, acting as a near-realistic automotive driving simulator.

In Gran Turismo 4, the characteristics of the cars are realistically designed and calculated so that they handle to the “real life” physics of that particular vehicle, taking into account weight, speed, friction, wind, and more. Courses include various sites such as Nurburgring Nordschleife, New York City, the Grand Canyon, Tsukuba Circuit, and more. Highly detailed vehicles and environment mapping create broadcast-quality graphics, with light and competitor car reflections on the player’s automobile to leaves on a tree shaking in the wind.

PLAY: 700 cars? Are you serious? Not only are there cars from different eras, but from 80 manufacturers from all over the world. . A Daimler Motor Carriage from 1886 to modern concept cars? Seriously! It’s almost to ridiculous to imagine. When you can’t imagine it and it’s in a game that shows just how much work went into GT4.

Even though you’ll want to have Jay Leno’s garage with every cool car imaginable its not the best strategy—most cars are used to resell to buy up to better cars or to improve your best cars.

Not only are the cars impressive, the tracks are remarkable. There are 50 courses that range from racetracks, dirt tracks, to cities. Once you through in the mix of Mother Nature on certain tracks they take on completely different lives. The Nürburgring Nordschliefe is a beast—close to 13 miles in length! The Yosemite National Park track is as much a masterpiece as it is challenging.

You can play in Gran Turismo Mode (which is basically career mode), arcade mode, two-player, and LAN. The career mode is deep and could take months to work through. You start with 10,000 credits which doesn’t necessarily give you enough to buy a car good enough to win a race. You can race shortly without a license however to move through the game you have to earn your racing license. The tests aren’t unlike those in GT3 in method. The further you get in the game the challenges to earn different licenses get increasingly difficult—difficult being an understatement when trying to get your “super license.”

Certainly winning a race is the easiest way to big money. Many tracks have their own rules regarding cars. Tweaking your car for the race is extremely important and thankfully the garage has been upgraded from GT3. There is a lot of tweaking and upgrades that can be done to a car. You’ll be surprised just how much time you spend messing around with your car for each race. Monster Garage has nothing on GT4.

The races are no easy task. Whether you use a wheel or controller the controls are accurate. GT4 boasts that it’s the real driving simulator and thankfully the controls make you feel like you are in the race. You can feel every corner, bump, dip, and spin-out. The wheel has a better command over the track. The dual-shock controller doesn’t take you out of the race; in fact you might be impressed at the cars’ responsiveness.

There’s many times where you can cheat—sort of. Take the corner and lean into your opponent so they absorb you so that you don’t slide into a wall. Also you can fly off some tracks and avoid a crazy set of curves and get right back on the track. It’s not what was intended but when you have no ramifications why not go for it?

The AI of the opponents is often lacking. Sure it’s not always easy to win however opponents don’t come after you even if pushed into a wall. In some other race games it seems as if the AI will go to great lengths to get you back or bump you out of the way so they can advance in the race, not in GT4. A very interesting thing to note is how the opponents rarely get off their lines as they race through the tracks.

If you grow tired of getting beat in the races you can go with the B-Spec mode and be the manager of a race driver. Your job is to help on pit stops, and do the rest of the jobs of the manager. While it’s not as exciting as racing it is a welcome addition.

GRAPHICS: The car models are strong and look like their real-life counterparts. The tracks are as impressive. Most impressive is the flow of the sim—if you want it to be realistic it has to flow that way and it doesn’t get locked down. The shadows and lighting are realistic and really push the feeling of being a simulation.

It’s almost funny to see the spectators run onto the course and to take pictures when on the dirt tracks. It’s quite impressive graphically and a great way to break up the usual twists and turns that might get monotonous after so many laps.

Replay mode has a real ‘wow’ factor as does the photo feature. The load times are the one aspect that really hurts. Moving from one menu to another, going to a track, etc. can take a lot of time. What is even more annoying is the inability to press a button to pass through the race animations. Sure, its nitpicky, but it’s a feature on all other racing games.

SOUND: The car sounds are well done. Each car sounds unique and it’s absolutely necessary to keep the sense of being in the race. There is nothing better than the growl of a GTO—or the lawn mower sound if you are an import fan. Dig.

The soundtrack is the one area that is lacking. You can pick and choose the songs that you like however if you aren’t a big fan of metal you might avoid the songs altogether.

FRANKLY: One of the biggest let downs is the lack of online game play—the LAN feature doesn’t make up for it—otherwise we’d have given GT4 a 10/10. Don’t let that dissuade you from picking up your copy of GT4. Sure you can rent it, but why pay the rental fee only to find you are out buying it a few days later? Gran Turismo 4 is too deep not to own.

+ Richie Wright

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