Review by lighty691
The Game That Started It All
Gran Turismo - Review
by Andrew Light
Welcome to my review of Gran Turismo for the Playstation. Gran Turismo is marketed as a driving simulator. It aims to be an opportunity to experience a driving experience as close to real life as is possible through a video game. Gran Turismo came on to the scene in 1998 and at the time was widely regarded as the best driving sim/racer around. Arcade racers were plentiful on the console however there were very few, if any that claimed to be a driving simulator. Gran Turismo came along to fill that void.
From the breathtaking intro video, played to the track of Everything Must Go by the Manic Street Preachers you realise that this game is going to be something special. The video shows the cars you will be racing in all their glory at breakneck speeds and each one is instantly recognisable. From Mazda to Subaru, Aston Martin to Chrysler, every model is lovingly created, to mimic their real life counterparts. The designers have done a wonderful job of creating cars that look realistically and move realistically. When you first hit the track you will realise that this game has plenty of attention to detail. The cars, the venues, even the scenery has been put together perfectly and helps to create a real sense of being in the game and driving the cars yourself.
So, we have established that the game looks wonderful. This is all well and good but if the actual game itself doesn't match up then all that effort that was put into making the game aesthetically pleasing will be wasted. Luckily, Gran Turismo has incredibly addictive gameplay also. There are two game modes, Arcade mode and Simulation mode. Firstly we will start off with Arcade Mode. This mode is almost like a whole game in its own right. Compare this mode alone with other racers out there and you will probably find little difference between them as regards gameplay and lifespan. The arcade mode is a massive game where you simply jump in a car, pick a track and race away. In essence this is what this game mode is all about, however there's so much to do as you only start off with a few cars available and a few tracks to race on. As you start winning races more and more cars and tracks will become available to you, which creates more and more challenges for you to beat. This game mode alone will have hours and hours of play time if you are trying to collect all the cars and all the tracks in this mode. The other game mode, Simulation mode, is slightly different. In this game mode you effectively have a career where you start with a small amount of cash in order to buy your first car and enter low level tournaments to build up more cash. You then use the cash to improve your car or buy a better car so that you can compete in better competitions. This continues until you have cars that can complete in world tournaments such as the Gran Turismo World Championship. Another element of the game is the obtaining of licenses. In order to compete in the best tournaments you will need to obtain a racing license. You are set specific goals on parts of the track to prove that you are up to the standard required for professional racing. This will involve completing the task within a set time limit and will often include specialist driving techniques such as negotiating S bends and braking techniques for difficult corners. Once you have passed your first test you are ready to go out and start racing. However it doesn't stop there. In order to compete in the very best tournaments you will need to get the top license, which can be difficult. However if you are going to win these tournaments your driving skills will need to be top notch and the license tests prepare you for these well. This game mode is much more in depth than the arcade mode and will provide you with almost endless hours of gameplay for those who are wanting to win all the championships, get all of the licenses and collect all the cars. Throughout the game, your record in races will be logged and you can go back to see what your win ratio is, how many cars you have collected, how much prize money you have won etc.
The game itself is actually very fun to play. You can vary the difficulty yourself depending on the car you select. Lets take for example the easiest tournament, the Sunday Cup. This tournament will pit you against the lower end of the racing world and against very basic cars. If you select a particularly powerful car there is going to be little competition and you will breeze to victory. However, if you select a car at a similar level to those competing against you, you will have much more of a challenge to ensure victory. This doesnt mean that you always have to use the lower end cars. If you are the type of person that loves racing in the flashy supercars, you can simply just enter one of the top competitions and you will be provided with more than enough challenge to keep you on your toes right to the finish line. The arcade side is a little different as the game will automatically select your opponents based on the car you have selected and will put you up against something similar so there is always a challenge here. One of the downsides to the difficulty of the game is the licenses. Whilst the first ones are easy they become progressively harder as you go on with the last license being actually quite hard to obtain. The unfortunate result of this is that if you cannot pass the test there will be sections of the game that are closed off from you. However some people will see this as a challenge and put the hours in to practice and make sure they get the test passed.
Music in the game is another area that excels. There are a few top name musicians and bands that have music in the game such as the previously mentioned Manic Street Preachers who feature in the starting credits and also Feeder who have tracks playing whilst you are driving. Other big names include Ash and Garbage to name a few but there is a very long list of tracks that you can utilise in the game. You can also filter these to leave out the ones you dont like and just keep in your favourites. The sound effects are also good in the game and are realistic compared to the real thing. Tyres screeching and engine revving all sound genuine and like real life.
So, what are the downsides? Well there are very few in actual fact. The difficulty of the license tests is a possible downside. Also there could be a few more tracks. Although you can race the tracks in reverse they are still essentially the same tracks, so a few more wouldn't be unwelcome. Apart from that there is very little to complain about.
So overall this game has to get a serious thumbs up. It has brilliant graphics, a ton of cars and excellent gameplay. What more could you ask for?
Thanks for reading!
Final Score 9/10
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Gran Turismo (EU, 05/08/98)
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