Review by Eno_Suibon

"At best, Gran Turismo-lite. With terrible loading times."

Gran Turismo comes to the PSP and it is ... pretty lackluster, actually. If you've played GT3 or 4 on the PS2, don't expect to find a whole lot that's new or exciting here. What Gran Turismo PSP offers is the same fundamental, realistic driving experience the GT games have become famous for, while missing a huge amount of features that make the series what it is. Most fundamentally, it doesn't have a career mode. And you can expect to install it onto your PSP memory stick unless you want to be driven absolutely insane from the loading times.

Gameplay: 5.5/10

My main issue with GTPSP is that without a career mode, there's not really a goal here, or anything worth doing in the name of racing. In addition, there's very little new content. Though you get 75 courses total—all of them available right from the outset—most of those come from playing the same tracks in reverse, and 95% of them have been lifted directly from GT3 or 4 on the PS2. But one weird thing is this: no night tracks. None. This was a real killer for me, since the night tracks were always the most impressive visually IMO.

But I digress. So you have your massive assortment of courses, what can you do with them? Well it's simple, you're given a ranking for each course. When you first get the game, that‘s going to be a Rank D for all of them. You pick a car, pick a course, race against 3 other competitors (who drive vehicles chosen at random based on the specs of your current car) and win. You move up to Rank C for that course, and then do the same thing but against slightly smarter AI. Then you move up to B, A and S, with the AI getting progressively smarter each time. You have to do this individually with every single course. It gets old. Really, really fast.

As you win these races, you get credits. Credits can be used to buy cars, which brings me to another ridiculously annoying aspect of GTPSP: the lottery dealership system. Unlike the previous games, where you could buy from any manufacturer right of the bat, here you get a selection of four that are changed seemingly at random every few days. So if you want that shiny Ferarri Enzo, your options are basically to wait, pray, and check the dealership section every few days. Well, technically, the dealerships are chosen on a schedule that repeats itself every 70 in-game days, which you can lookup here at GameFAQs, but it's still a stupid and pointless system. If you're going to take away the career mode and give players access to all the tracks right off the bat, at least let people buy whatever car they want, whenever they want. The system they have here is arbitrary and annoying, at best.

And another thing that's been watered down is the tuning system. You can still tune cars, but not nearly to the extent as in previous games, and you can only have 30 of them tuned at once for some reason. In any case, I didn't even bother with it. All I did was give every vehicle the best tires (since tire damage doesn't apply in this game, ever), and that doesn't even count towards your 30 car limit for tuning.

Now I know I'm dissing this game a lot, and I'll get to the positive aspects soon, but there's one more thing I absolutely must mention before then: loading times. They are HORRENDOUS. Note the caps. Expect to wait 2 to 5 seconds every time you go into a new menu, every time you select a car, every time you buy a car, every time you leave a menu, pretty much every time you do anything about anything in this game, because everything has a loading time attached. And when you're waiting to race on a course, the wait is closer to 10 seconds. Even if you have the patience of a saint, it will wear on you. Now luckily, there's an option to install the game onto your PSP memory stick, which will speed it up to an extent. But even this only turns the HORRENDOUS loading times into passable ones, and takes up nearly 1 GB on your card to boot. And you still need the UMD in your PSP to play, which feels kind of lame.

But I have to say, despite all the faults I have with GTPSP, the game has a lot of redeeming qualities as well. For one thing, the driving experience is just as realistic as ever. And if you want a driving simulator on the go, and don't mind the lack of a career mode (or the lack of night tracks, grrr), you can't do much better than this. And despite how watered down it all feels, a lot of things have remained relatively intact, and there's at least one new feature: Drift mode. Basically, you pick a car, pick a course, and try to pull off the best drifts you can.

The car collection is just as huge as ever, with something like 800 total to choose from. From subcompacts to F1 racecars, there's a little something for everyone here. The License Exams are here too, this time called Driving Challenges; not one of my favorite aspects of the series, but they're totally optional this time around. They also seem easier somehow, or maybe I'm just finally getting used to this whole driving simulator thing.

In the end, I'm giving the game 5.5 out of 10 in the gameplay department for two reasons: one, I feel the career mode from the past games is fundamental to the GT experience, and the lack of it here is inexcusable; and two, there are no night tracks! Would it really have been that difficult to throw at least one in there? Sheesh. If these two things don't bother you, and you're a fan of the driving experience that prior games in the series offered, you're unlikely to be disappointed here. It's Gran Turismo, after all; the name of the game is realistic driving and this PSP version does that just as well as the big boys.

Graphics: 6.5/10

Visuals are typically the cornerstone of any good GT game, and GTPSP is no exception … to an extent. The cars themselves are beautiful, detailed enough to read your opponent's license plate if you get close enough when racing. Damn near perfect in that regard. The problem I have this time around is the tracks. They're okay, sure, but they're also plain and frankly kind of blurry. Certainly not what I'd call “beautiful.“ But even then, my score here would be higher if it weren't for one minor detail: scan lines. Depending on the track, they're either non-existent or all over the place. I know GT has a reputation when it comes to beautiful cars, and that's fine, but when your beautiful car is driving over a track with annoying white lines shooting all over the place, maybe it's time to put the micro-details away for ten seconds and fix your ****ing visuals. That's something I expect to see from an indie game in development, not a forty dollar game off the press from a professional company. Again, inexcusable.

Audio: 4.0/10

The music is, uh, there. It's in the background. And I can't remember any of it. None of the music really jumped out at me. There's supposedly an option to listen to your own music while playing, but I couldn't get it to work. I don't know if that's my fault or theirs, but don't expect to be wowed off your feet by the audio track presented.

The other sound is also there. There are definitely no sound effects missing from the bunch. Better like Jay Leno's voice though, you'll be hearing it a lot.

Story: N/A

Not like you need to be told this, but the only thing you need to know about the story here is that there isn't one. Obviously, this doesn't hurt a game like Gran Turismo.

Replay Value

I know some people can get addicted to trying to beat their time trial record by just one more tenth of a second, and others might play through the Drift Mode trying to get as high a score as possible. Unfortunately, I'm not a person who derives enjoyment from either of those things, and there isn‘t a whole lot else to replay. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you'll probably find a lot of replay value here. If not, you won't.

Conclusion

Pros:
- Driving simulator is same as always
- Huge collection of real life cars
- Tons of different tracks and courses
- The cars are beautiful

Cons:
- No career mode
- Feels kind of pointless
- No nighttime tracks
- Very little tuning of cars
- HORRENDOUS loading times (fixable to an extent)
- Horrible scan lines on some tracks
- Only 3 computer opponents per race

Overall, Gran Turismo on the PSP amounts to Gran Turismo-lite. It offers the same basic driving experience as its console brethren, but lacks a good deal of the features we've come to expect from a GT game. Decent. Certainly above average, but not great.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 02/24/10

Game Release: Gran Turismo (Limited Edition Entertainment Pack) (US, 10/20/09)


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