Review by theKnightdragon

"Gran Turismo-on-the-go...not really the best idea, or at least, this doesn't prove to be one."

Gran Turismo comes to the Sony PSP and it bring with it the natural Gran Turismo feel, something that's very common with nearly all driving sims in the market. Players of the past GT games though, will find this game lacking, and true, there's really nothing to get excited about in this game. There are of course aspects of the game that will attract both new and veteran players alike to it.

What is the main issue in this game that players often get on about? Two words: CAREER MODE

Yes, the ever significant trademark of the Gran Turismo series, which is putting players in the view of an aspiring professional racing champion by starting from nothing and working your way up to the gold, collecting and perfecting cars along the way. This game has none of whatever I just mentioned. There is no career mode, no Sunday Cups, Clubman Cups or a Gran Turismo World Championship.

GAMEPLAY ~ 7/10
Now the gameplay is a bit a downer with the aforementioned lack of a career mode, but still, there are a few things that would still make this game worth the title and the money. Present in this game are "Driving Challenges" which play similarly to "License Tests" you get in the previous games. Completing these tests don't reward you with licenses, but instead, an option to use your own Custom Soundtrack that would read from the music folder of your PSP. For me, that's quite a good feature, you're gonna want a change of pace in terms of music when you get familiar with all of the songs included in the game.

In terms of game modes, the game is basically what you call a "grab-and-go" sort of game. There are only three race types you could choose from: Single Race, Time Attack and Drift Mode. The single race menu is made as simple as it could get, with only three panels present. One panel to pick a race type, another for the car, and the other for the track selection. Single Race puts you in the classic setting you get in a GT game, racing against 3 cars you must finish first within a set amount of laps, now the game gets interesting here because you don't get to pick the difficulty setting of the AI until you beat them again and again, which ranks up the maximum AI levels for each track, so if you want a challenge you're gonna want to run the track again and again until the level moves up from D-C-B-A-S stages. Drift mode is as basic as it sounds, you're alone in the track and going sideways for as many points as possible, there is no competition here though, so you can have as much fun sliding around as you want. Time Attack is also as simple as it sounds, go around the track in the fastest possible time.

Going over to the game's content, this version actually gives you a ton of cars to buy, 500+ cars, I think. Now if you've played GT4 you're not gonna miss any car, since all of the car roster from GT4 is carried over here to the portable. In terms of track selections, you get a wide range of tracks, both GT originals and real life tracks. I personally have fun going around Nordschleife and La Sarthe in a Touring Car.

We move on to the driving physics, which is the true bread and butter of Gran Turismo. The game actually offers two distinct physics to play with, Standard and Professional. Standard is the same physics engine used in the early GT games, namely GT and GT2, while Professional Physics give you a much more realistic and much more sensitive driving experience for a real challenge. Now both of these physics are fun to play with but players who want a good racing sim feel would surely go for the Professional handling.

Now, just because the game doesn't have a career mode, doesn't mean that there is no customization whatsoever to be done to the cars. All cars in this game can be actually tuned, and what I mean by tuning isn't adding parts, but adjusting suspension settings, ride height, damper stiffness, camber angles, etc. Players would actually have to adjust these settings to get the most out of the stock cars. Coming with a comprehensive guide on each adjustable part and its effects on the performance, even those that are unfamiliar with car mechanics can start experimenting with the right settings to suit their needs. Even the tires can be changed on all cars, so you can have a production car on soft compound racing tires or a racing car with comfort tires just for the heck of it.

GRAPHICS & SOUNDS ~ 6/10
Graphical presentation has always been an ace of the Gran Turismo series ever since the first release in the original PlayStation in the late 90's. This game doesn't differ, except for a few points. In terms of the car's visual models, the game doesn't fail, in fact, this game probably has the best vehicular presentation out of all PSP racing games. You can actually make out the badges of the cars when you're trailing behind them in birds-eye-view. Now in terms of track visualization, Polyphony Digital has somehow pushed the limits of the PSP too far. While it is true that the track details are visually pleasing, especially on the real life tracks, but somehow, it comes with a price, namely scanlines, though they are spotted more often on highly detailed tracks like Nordschleife and Cote d' Azur. Yes, whenever I'm cruising down Nordschleife in my ARTA NSX, I see random scanlines forming in the screen every 10 seconds that I drive. You can push a system, but you can never push one too hard, I honestly find it hard to appreciate the details of the scenery when I'm bothered by white lines appearing as I drive. It's like getting pigeon poo on the windshield of your car every hour.

We now go to the sound department, which is equally disappointing as the track details if I may say so myself. The menu bgms are quite catchy, but the game offers so little in terms of race BGMs so you'll get tired of hearing the same song every race. The only ways the sound department redeems itself is through the engine sounds, which are quite good and the custom soundtrack option. The engine sounds are exactly what you need when driving fast, the distinction between a production car, a muscle car, and a race car in engine sounds are amazing, you'll really feel what you drive in this game. Custom soundtrack is a nice option whenever you know music that pumps you up during races. For me, that would be the Eurobeat tunes from Initial D.

REPLAYABILITY ~ 8/10
Now, you can't have a GT game without a multiplayer option, so this game presents a car trade/share lobby and a 1-on-1 ad hoc battle feature. Given that I haven't really played against anyone in here, I'll just assume this game has the same connectivity as other ad-hoc supported games. Playing against your friends for racing superiority is always a good challenge. Infrastructure mode is absent from this game, but a similar feature could be achieved by using the Ad-Hoc Party application on the PS3.

Another thing to make players keep playing is the difficulty levels I mentioned earlier in this review. Difficulty levels range from D, B, C, A and S ranks, and each rank is attained by winning by a certain margin from the second place car, and that each "unique" track has its own difficulty placements, meaning that Midfield forward and Midfield reverse both have different difficulty placements. With 35 tracks, and 26 with differing layouts, it makes for all in all 61 difficulty placements. Have fun trying to get S on each.

Car collection is somehow the theme for this game, with at least 800 cars to collect, and dealerships change every 2 in-game days, getting the car you want will definitely take patience. It's what's gonna take the most time out of all milestones in this game.

OVERALL SCORE ~ 7/10

Pros:
- Wide car and track selection
- Near realistic physics
- Great vehicle presentation

Cons:
- Lack of in-game events (Career mode)
- Small Race BGM selection
- Random graphical glitches on certain tracks


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/08/12

Game Release: Gran Turismo (US, 10/01/09)


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