Review by Ofisil
"A non-racing fan's opinion"
Gran Turismo is a racing game\racing simulator developed by Polyphony Digital. I'm not a racing game fan... I don't hate them, I'm just not the typical racing guy. I am not obsessed with Gran Turismo nor am I a hater, so if you want a totally unbiased opinion of someone that is not a fan of the genre or the game, here it is...
Replay Value: 8/10
GT is mainly a realistic racing simulator, where you must acquire racing licenses, buy cars with your hard earned money and spent a LOT of time playing with the set up of your car. However there is an Arcade Mode where you just pick a car and start racing but it is so damn boring that I won't even bother telling you about it and seriously, if you want an Arcade Racer you are reading the wrong review. GT is all about the Simulation mode. Now lets break it down: At first you must get racing licenses that will permit you entering the various races available. There are 3 licenses, B, A and IA, (international), and all of them are some sort of mini Time Trials. This part was the most problematic according to most people and the main reason beginners would stop playing the game. Licenses are quite hard to acquire with some of them nearly impossible even for experienced players. If you are patient you'll get them, after all even I managed to get them, but be prepared for a lot of work. With each license acquired you'll unlock events to take part in, but first of all you gotta buy your car, don't ya? There are many brands to choose from, like the Japanese Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, the American Chrysler or Chevrolet or British manufacturers like Aston Martin. There are a lot of cars available, 150 or something if I remember correctly, but GT fans lets be honest... most of them are not good... a smart spender can complete all the events of the game with 4-8 good cars bought. Also the car market is quite unbalanced in my opinion. There are tons of FR and 4WD cars and only a few FF and MR ones not to mention that the game focuses more in the Japanese market, (by the way where are the BMWs and Mercedes???). Beware that GT is a realistic game where physics are at full work here so don't expect to win the game just by accelerating... you'll need to practice a lot, slowly polishing your skills in order to become a better driver. What makes GT great though is the whole car upgrading section. After getting some money from races you get to buy some upgrades for your car like Turbo Kits, tire types, better suspensions, stabilizers, breaks and many more. After buying what you need you can play a lot with the set up of your car like the Gear Box ratios, car height, suspension stiffness and many, many more that change the way your car behaves on the tracks. You gotta know what you're doing though cause different drivers\cars\tracks need different settings and unless you're a mechanic or something you'll spent a lot of time trying to find the best setting for you, another thing that will disappoint beginners or more Arcade oriented players.
Unfortunately there are only a few races you can take part in. 4 GT cups, 3 endurance races, 3 Japan\UK\US Vs Japan\UK\US races, some races where only tuned \normal\light cars can take part and a couple more. I wouldn't mind if the game had less cars and more tracks. The biggest problem though is the fact that the rewards are quite bad or at least unrewarding. Why try beating that quite hard tournament that gives you 30000 credits in 3 5-lap races when you can beat an easier one that gives 20k-25k in just 3 2-lap races, or why bother playing the whole endurance race that takes a whole hour, (30 laps), and gives you 150000 credits when you can just get 20000 each time you race for the pole position, (one lap only). And if that wasn't enough the AI is quite bad and unchallenging. For example the last endurance race which is supposed to be uber hard is quite easy since by the time you get there you will have both the wheels and the skills to leave your opponents 2 laps behind!!! Also after completing the few races of the game there aren't actually many things to do. How many times can you repeat a course or how many cars can you buy\upgrade before getting awfully bored? Well it's all up to you. Generally your opponent in the game will be yourself. The fun of the game is buying cars, upgrading them, playing with their setting and getting more and more better at driving them... so bare with it.
The graphics of GT are good, really good... but believe me not as good as they are supposed to be. The cars look wonderful, with reflective surfaces and great design and the levels while not something special, look quite good and don't have that ugly mist\nothingness on the horizon. Also the replays look fantastic, almost lifelike and that not only because of the graphic quality but because of the realistic movement of the cars. It's true that GT raised the standards for PS graphic quality, proving that good programming can do wonders. There is even a Time Trial Mode you can unlock, where believe it or not graphics look ever better, as if you aren't even playing a PS game.
The sound effects while good and all could be a lot better. Engines sound different from vehicle to vehicle but not so distinctive like in Colin McRae for example. The music was quite a disappointment for me but maybe that's just my taste. GT has a lot of "real" music, like Garbage, Ash and others that sound a bit too cheesy and the rest of the themes, (mainly instrumental ones), are quite repetitive and are not worth mentioning. But as I've said it's all about taste, so I can't help you here. One final note though... for some reason the Japanese main theme of GT, which is one of the best rock tunes I've ever heard is missing from the European version of the game, (and probably from the US too), and all we get is a crappy Manic Street Preachers remix or something!
-Very good realistic racing simulator
-A lot of cars and upgrades that change the driving experience
-Very good graphics, the best of its time
-The License tests difficulty might discourage a lot of people
-Unrewarding races, unbalanced car Market and a bit bad AI
-Worthless Arcade Mode
-Not for people that want an Arcade-type game
Colin McRae (Series)
Gran Turismo (Series)
Undoubtedly GT is a great racing game and probably the best driving sim of its era. However its not perfect, in fact it will disappoint a lot of people, mainly the ones that want a more "plug & play" experience, like Need For Speed 3 or Ridge Racer\Rage Racer. So be careful before buying because GT while a great game is not for everyone.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/12/10
Game Release: Gran Turismo (EU, 05/08/98)
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