Review by Off_da_border
"Gran Turismo 4, as seen two years past its release."
The respected Driving Simulator, or so it is called. Since the release of GT1, when people asked me whether Gran Turismo is worth buying or not, I hesitate in my reply. Complex games cannot be fully judged until they are finished and all its aspects have been tested, and this is indeed an extremely long and complex game.
Indeed something to admire. At least that would be your first impression once you see the vehicles showcased in beauty against the uncolorful, grey backgrounds which really help display their charm. Or perhaps when you have a lap at Sears Point and admire how beautifully nature can be rendered on a gaming console. The grassy plains are breathtaking, the desert Laguna Seca raceway looks amazing and makes you live the atmosphere of the track. But that's for the real life tracks.
Coming to the GT-exclusive created tracks, they don't nearly pack as much realism and atmosphere as the real life circuits. The audience decks look as if they're photoshopped on the track. But not only the audience decks look fake, the pit lane, the start/stop lights, all look fake. It is mostly not easily noticed though unless you brake and stare at the track features. Thus, they aren't that big of a deal.
One other thing involving BOTH real and created tracks, the audience are 2D. Don't rub your eyes, I know it's quite silly to have 2D audience in such a good looking game, but you should be looking at the track, not the audience.
As for photo mode, the cars have the photoshopped on syndrome too. When placing them on a PC, some of the photos in photo mode would look quite ridiculous, as if you copied and pasted the car into a picture of the location. Some, on the other hand, look great and realistic to some extent, and you could really enjoy looking at them every now and then.
Aside from the intro song, the sound isn't impressive. Don't get me wrong, the engine sounds are close to real as it can get, but its the soundtrack. Most of the songs aren't that great, and honestly by the time you unlock (and finish) the endurance races (especially the 24 hour ones XD ), you would have memorized most of the songs in the soundtrack. If it's the numbers you're worried about, there are a pretty good chunk of songs in the game. It's all about opinions though, and you could always just mute the songs and listen to whatever you like.
Another thing is the drifting sounds (in normal tracks, not rally ones). The sound of the tyre burnouts are ridiculous. They are extremely high pitch regardless of speed, and if you pay attention, it is just basically the same sound with the same pitch and frequency being repeated in all drifting situations and with all cars and tracks. That's another of the reasons why I decreased the sound score.
For some reason people think GT is a force to be reckoned with in terms of features, but no. Let's start with what the game has.
This game has Realistic driving of hundreds of cars from all classes and categories to choose from (hell, the Daimler Motor Carriage is in there! WTF?), and a great array of excellent real life and made up tracks and test courses (Nurburgring, Sarthe, Laguna Seca, and Suzuka as examples for real life raceways, New York, Cote d'Azur, and Tokyo R246 for city based tracks, Apricot Hill, Deep Forest, and High Speed Ring for old GT tracks, and finally Grand Canyon, Chamonix, and Cathedral Rocks for drift tracks-note that all these are just examples) to test them on.
You can even use the extreme performance customization mode to modify every detail you can ever imagine in these cars (from toe and camber angles, to downforce, to suspension stiffness, to LSD, to downforce-you know what I mean). Now that you're ready, you can race them in normal 3-lap races and up to the 24-hours REAL TIME endurance races, or enter the massive Photo mode where you could take pictures of your favourite car at a location from around the world.
Or if you're not in the mood, you can get the old traditional licenses :), or you can decide to make the game race its own races. Kinda confusing, eh? Welcome to B-spec mode. If you suck at GT, this is your saviour. You get to be the manager, and you hire a driver to get into your cars and race them in the races. The more your driver sits in front of the wheel, the more experience he gains, and the easier it is for him to win races. But that does not mean you're going to turn off the TV and BAM! you won the race. You'll have to command your driver when to overtake, when to speed up, when to slow down, when to pit stop, etc. Think of it as an extremely simplified way of controlling his pace around the track.
There's also the boring driving missions, 34 tasks where you have to fulfill a certain objective under certain conditions.
Now let's see what the game doesn't have: Damage, realistic drifting in normal raceways and tracks, Lamborghinis and Ferraris (yeah, they're not that important, but just for the sake of completion), and some real Manual shifting. I mean, you could just rev the engine at 8000 rpm all the way through Nurburgring and the engine performance wouldn't be affected. In real life, the engine would blow if you do this. There's also the missing visual customization.
But why a 9, you'd ask? Why not a 9.5, especially considering that the cons are a counted few? That's because (guess what?) DAMAGE is a real thing. If they slap on the case "THE REAL DRIVING SIMULATOR" they need to live up to their words and make everything as real as possible, or at least the basic aspects of it. If this is a real driving simulator, they need to focus a bit more on these aspects rather than the "get through the apex at perfect speed or you're screwed" concept. Another thing is that most of the cars are USELESS. Who on earth will want to drive a Midget II car? Or perhaps an old Civic that you can't even visually customize? I could buy these cars in REAL LIFE and drive them around rather than do it in a driving simulator.
Last, but not least, there are like 1000 different types of Skylines! AND 350zs! AND Supras! AND the kitchen sink! (whoops) WTF? They could throw away some of these and get some Lamborghinis and Ferraris. This is ridiculous.
The game is... quite dull. You've got to get Golds on the license tests, which is alone another story (but can really help you master the game, and is quite fun for some time). You'll always want to do a race or buy a car, granted, but you just won't pass the 75% mark, unless you have nothing better to do or love this game too much. The game has tons of races (most are pointless) and once you finish the Extreme Hall races or Endurance races you'll feel like you want to leave the game.
It's tedious to A-spec every race, and boring to B-spec every race. Combining both will throw you across the 50% mark for sure, but it starts to get kind of repetitive after that, especially if you know that finishing it 100% will claim you an uninteresting reward that you got before in one of the races (won't spoil it for you though). I finished it 100% and was utterly disappointed myself.
Then there's the driving missions. These are more like a chore than a way to have some fun (especially #34). They vary from short to extremely long races or parts of races where you have to fulfill a certain, very hard to achieve target. You'll need excellent driving skills to fulfill this quota though, and since there's no B-spec in here... You know what I mean.
Photo mode well boosts the gameplay. You can detour from the main thing and just stick to capturing photos for a while. Photo mode can also be excelled, mind you, since knowing the best focus and all that stuff requires some experience and try and error. You can save the photos you capture on a USB storage device to transfer them to your PC. I even know some people who buy this game just for the freaking photo mode (talk about insanity). I don't really hate it myself but I don't like it that much either. I just use it as some kind of way to waste time between races and have some fun.
Multiplayer and Online 4/10
The game has the standard Multiplayer it always had. You race your opponent on a certain track with your own custom cars and that's it, nothing fancy. It could be a way to spend time with your friends but there are other better multiplayer games out there. There's also this LAN battle or whatever, but I never got to test it though.
Just like any standard racing game, (X) accelerates and Square brakes. GT4 however utilizes their pressure sensitivity capabilities though, thus you can adjust the amount of throttle/brakes you want to apply (for easier control you can just use the R analog stick). The controls are extremely similar to a standard racer, with no major variations. This is one of the best things I like in racing games, the layout is consistent and all developers build their racing games on that base layout template. You should be used to the controls if you played a racing game before.
Alternatively, you can get a Racing Wheel and add to the realism. Even though it is great at boosting the driving experience, I prefer the controller. If I wanted a perfectly real simulation, I'd rather drive a real car instead :P.
Replay Value 3/10
Nope, not in this section will the game do good. Going through GT mode 100% is already a very long process, and repeating it is extremely unlikely. You can however do a new game and choose different cars, but that still isn't sufficient to validate a new game and lose all your previous progress.
It's overall a good game. It does have its cons, but so do all other games ever created. I'd suggest rent if you've never tried a GT game before, or Buy if you are a GT fan. Even though it's two years since it's release, it's still going strong in the world of racing.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 09/18/06
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