Review by King Broccoli
"The cars all look so pretty!"
Before the release of its sequel Gran Turismo was THE definitive racing game, the most comprehensive one that could be found not only on the Playstation but anywhere. It boasted impressive physics, a remarkably long line up of vehicles and an amazing amount of freedom in how about you go playing the game. What looked like just another racer with flashy graphics on the outside was in fact a deep and surprisingly good title.
The graphics of Gran Turismo made everyone sit up and take notice of what the PSX was actually capable of, they showed an amount of realism previously unseen where Playstation games were concerned. The amount of attention to detail was amazing, from the smoke that the cars kick out to the gravel that flies up when they spin off the track, there was very little that was left out of this title.
Every car (and there’s a lot of them) has it’s own design and they represent superbly their real life counterparts, a lot of research must have gone into it because in most cases the designs of the cars are just spot-on. The tracks and their surroundings have been well made, and whilst they don’t share the realism contained by the vehicles they still look pretty damned hot, some of the scenery that you drive through is quite magnificent.
It’s the replays of the races that really excel in the graphical department, the first time you have a look at them a person could be forgiven for thinking that they’re real. If there were commentary during the replay then it would be exactly the same as the stuff that you watch on television. All of the cars look even better during the replay (they all look like they’ve got about ten coats of wax on them) and the high speed races they take part in make for good watching. These have been the only replays that I’ve ever seen that are worth taking up a block or two on a memory card.
Overall, whilst the graphics have been surpassed now by Gran Turismo 2 (but only barely), the visuals offered in this game are some of the finest of the time. The biggest shock is that they only used up 75% of the Playstations capacity.
The sound quality is also pretty damned good, the same detail that was so evident in the graphical areas is once again featured in the audio department. The majority of the car engines each make their respective noises (an incredible task considering the mammoth list), sound realistic and are surprisingly gentle on the ears compared to other racing games.
The music offered in Gran Turismo is good by any standards, it compares even to Pysgnosis’ futuristic racers Wipeout and Rollcage. The songs suit the racing atmosphere quite well (the high speeds just makes them sound so much better for some reason) and they’re tunes that you’re not likely to get sick of in a big hurry. The only thing missing from the audio category are probably sound effects from the collisions, you get a bit of a thump but it’s not really enough to satisfy the more murderous drivers.
Overall, the sound is great! It couples a memorable soundtrack with super-realistic engine noises to come away with two thumbs up. It’s not quite as polished as the graphics are, but still it’s easy on the ears.
The best word that can describe the gameplay is depth. There is just so much on offer in the world of Gran Turismo, the sheer size of it can sometimes overwhelm newcomers to the game. First up there is a choice between the arcade version and the Gran Turismo mode. The arcade mode offers quick start, less realistic races (it’s really only good for short stints at the game and two player races), whilst Gran Turismo mode really contains the “guts” of the game.
When you start Gran Turismo you’ve only got 10,000 bucks to your name and the only races you can enter are the easy, badly paying Spot Races. Whilst there is a huge number of races and tournaments to enter these can only be unlocked by completing the license tests, these tests will probably provide you with some of the most annoying moments in the game.
There are three license tests to take, B, A and IA. Each test has 8 parts that need to be completed, they usually involve strenuous turning, deceleration or tests of speed. Each part has a strict time limit and will be the cause of a lot of frustration on the player’s behalf. Whilst they do help improve your driving skills and prepare you for the harder races, when you start to continually fail tests by 1/1000 of a second you’ll just wish that they didn’t exist. The tests can seriously dent your enjoyment of Gran Turismo.
There are a good number of tracks for the player to tear around, and they’re all of impeccable design. Each of them features a good amount of hairpins and sharp corners and should provide a decent challenge every single race. They have a good range of difficulty, some you can fly around without really thinking and thrash the opposition, and with others it’s possible to find yourself careering of the track and into a wall nearly every turn.
The controls and physics are top-notch, whilst not TOO realistic it’s still a very good simulation of the art of car racing. You must adjust your racing style completely for the different types of cars, learning to take the corners properly will take a lot of practice but mastering this skill is definitely worthwhile.
One of the finest features is that of the customisation on offer. Everything under the bonnet of your car can be tweaked and adjusted to perfection, gear ratios, camber, springs, if it’s in the car then it can be fiddled with. Then there’s the option of going down to the parts shop to buy the best engines, brakes and various other parts. With some simple upgrades you can turn your weak little car into a machine to be feared.
The amount of races on offer in Gran Turismo is superb, there’s the four tournaments of various difficulties which can be entered into, but theirs also a whole multitude of special cups which can be raced in, every specific type of car is featured here. Here’s a selection of the cups America Vs. Japan; England Vs. Japan; England Vs. America; 4WD, FF, FR and MR cups; Normal Car; Tuned Car; Megaspeed and some absolutely huge marathon races for you to compete in. There’s something here to appeal to all tastes.
Overall, the gameplay of Gran Turismo is very close to perfection. The annoyance of obtaining your license does affect your enjoyment, but once this obstacle is out of the way then it’s pure uninhibited pleasure to be had by all.
The lifespan of Gran Turismo is just big, there’s over 200 cars to take out for a test drive, many tracks to try them out on and a whole lot of competitions to win with them. The only way a person can get sick of this game is by playing it 24 hours a day, every day, for 6 months. This is one of those games that has the ability to last the test of time. The depth offered here is just astounding.
Gran Turismos fun factor is not quite up to the level of the other aspects of the game. Being a simulation it focuses more on realism than giving the gamer a good time. That said, there is a lot of fun to be had from this game, but there are still a few irritations contained in the game. The intelligence contained by the computer cars and the realistic controls can make the game a bit harder and therefore less enjoyable.
The challenge in Gran Turismo is somewhere between medium and hard. Without practice winning races can seem an almost impossible task and it’s very easy to lose hope. It just takes a little bit of training and learning how to upgrade your cars and you can be racing competitively with the best of ‘em. The difficulty can be quite overwhelming for the gamers in the lower age bracket and there are probably better games out there for those players.
Overall, Gran Turismo is one of the best and famous Playstation games of all time, and it deserves to be. It’s one of the most detailed and comprehensive racers to ever rear its head and after all this time it’s still up on the best-sellers list. The value for money offered by Gran Turismo is unrivalled, and if you don’t have it by now then you should definitely consider it as your next buy.
- Super impressive audio/video components
- Amazing depth and customisation to be found
- Offers a great challenge to most gamers
NOT SO GOOD POINTS
- Getting those licenses is a pain in the NECK
- Some of the races are ridiculously hard to win
GRAPHICS – 10/10
SOUND – 10/10
GAMEPLAY – 10/10
LIFESPAN – 10/10
FUN FACTOR – 8/10
CHALLENGE – 10/10
OVERALL – 10/10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 06/06/00, Updated 06/06/00
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