Review by falsehead

"Scientific Fact: Red cars go faster than any other kind."

I know nothing about cars. I can’t even drive in real life. Well that’s not entirely true, I can ride motorbikes, but an accident involving me, a motorbike, a giant wheelie and the bonnet of blue Volvo put an end to my biking more or less permanently. When my car savvy pals say “look at my cooool new car! It’s so much better than the last one I had.” I go “erm, that’s nice I like the way the dashboard lights up.” So basically when it comes to cars I am completely ignorant.

So why do I rate Gran Turismo so highly? It’s a driving simulator right? It’s manna from heaven for those who like to fiddle with their overhead camshafts and know the difference between automatic and manual transmission. What on earth could I, a devout pedestrian, hope to get from this, the ultimate car fanatics game?

Well lots as it happens. Gran Turismo is one of those rare games that actually transcends the genre it belongs in and appeals to just about everyone who has even a passing interest in gaming. It’s a game that actually lives up to the hype and will not disappoint, even now, several years after its initial release.

So enough raving, time to talk game play. Gran Turismo offers two modes of play - Arcade and Simulation mode. Arcade mode offers quick fix racing thrills. Here you can choose from an initially limited selection of cars and tracks. Win your races in single player mode and you’ll unlock more tracks and other goodies. There is also a two player, split screen mode here where you and a mate can race up to 30 laps against each other. Finally Arcade mode has a Time Trial section, where you race to get the fastest lap times. So far, so good.

But the real meat of GT is the simulation mode. Here it is your task to start with a small amount of “credits” and buy yourself a cheap car, race and win more cash so you can upgrade your car and finally buy better ones. You have a garage to keep your car in and here you can tweak, poke and tune it up to your hearts content. So armed with your first car, you set off for the races… except you need a racing license before you can race for big money so it’s time to get qualifying.

The initial license exams take you through the basics of driving. Like stopping and starting and turning corners, tricky stuff like that. This will get you your B license. One that’s out the way you can start racing in the actual cup tournaments and aiming for the A license and the super-hard International A certificate. Initially you’ll only be in low ranked races and will have a hard time earning big money prizes, but slowly as the campaign continues, you’ll earn more credits and the big shiny cars that were out of your reach at the beginning suddenly are within your grasp.

As you progress it becomes more and more addictive. Each car actually feels different to drive and you can have literally weeks of fun mastering just a few of the different kinds. The urge to unlock all the cars is very strong as completion of the game with all cups and licenses gives you access to the amazingly cool “Concept Car”. This little beauty goes about 200 mph and is great to show off to your mates in two player mode. That said there is also a lot of fun to be had tanking round courses in some big family salon as there is blasting round in the TVR.

Graphically the game is still one of the loveliest on the PlayStation. Virtually no pop-up, no glitching, the shine on the cars and the detail of the tracks is incredible. Musically it’s awesome to with great UK bands like Ash and the Chemical Brothers providing a suitably adrenaline filled sound track. The game is beautiful in single and multi-player, and utterly stunning in the replays. Oh yes, the replays. Probably the single coolest thing about GT is the ability to replay your triumphal (or not so triumphal) races and save them to your memory card. Yes, you can view from every angle that moment you floored the accelerator to fast and span round in a tight little doughnut circle! Well maybe that’s just me… But anyway, it’s the creamy icing on an already well-stuffed cake of gaming goodness.

Gran Turismo is a must buy classic of PlayStation gaming. Whether you are just casually blasting round in arcade mode or immersed in the huge and deep simulation mode this game will keep you glued to your TV for ages. Graphically I even think it’s superior to its own PlayStation sequel, so of the two versions it’s still the one I would recommend you get of the two. You want to drive? Then get this game. It costs a lot less than a real car and you’re less likely to run over hedgehogs while playing it.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 11/29/01, Updated 11/29/01


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