Review by Writer

"Over 160 real life cars"

Although Gran Turismo was released in 1998, the game was in the production stages for quite some time. Development time for the game took three years, three years of development that were very well spent. The game's producer, Kazunori Yamauchi is a huge car freak and after playing Gran Turismo, its very clear why this is.

Gran Turismo offers two modes of play; arcade mode and simulation mode. The arcade mode is like most other racing games. Select your desired car, take it to the race track and storm the competition. The arcade mode allows for unlocking more cars and such, but at best, this mode is for instant racing action and after playing the more complex simulation mode, it becomes greatly obvious why this is. The simulation mode goes deeper than the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Here you only have $10,000 dollars and not a single car in your garage. The objective in this mode is to enter and win races, earn money to buy cars, upgrades, and enter special events. Before you can do any of that though, you must pass a series of license tests to earn the right to drive, a total of three examinations. The license tests fall into the categories of braking, cornering, time trials and others. You don't have the option of deciding which car you'll drive during these tests and many times they prove to be extremely difficult. Just about anyone will obtain the B license after a few tries, but obtaining the higher licenses can and most likely will be frustrating. (You can only enter races that fit the license you've received, or races that don't require a license.) Many of the license tests are often too demanding requiring nothing but the best of skills. After failing a test after 20 or so attempts, you might feel angry enough to throw your controller and coming from this reviewer, that's a rarity. This is Gran Turismo's only major fault. If you can overcome this hurdle, you'll be greatly rewarded.

This game will be every car junkies dream. There are over 160 cars that you can drive. As mentioned before, you only start with 10K which is only enough to buy a respectable used car. Once you start winning races and building up some capital, you'll be able to buy that Viper that you've always wanted. Real life car manufactures lend their car support to Gran Turismo. You'll find dealers such as TVR, Honda, Mitsubishi, and so on. If you've got the cash, you can upgrade your ride to achieve higher performance. You can turn a 180HP (horse power) car into a fearsome 330HP turbo-charged machine. Upgrades don't just stop at HP though. You've got mufflers, pistons, tires, take your pick. You can even adjust your car's parts before each race.
Want to make your car look like a race model? Just take it to the dealer you purchased it from, pay the right amount of green, and there you go. Customization freaks will be in heaven.

Gran Turismo isn't called ''The Real Driving Simulator'' for no reason. The game pays a copious amount of detail to realistic driving techniques. If you think you're going to take a turn going 130 mph, you've got another thing coming. Sure, you can try to take the turn going that fast-if you want to spin out. Just like real driving, you'll have to put on the brakes for sharp turns. Those players that have grown so accustomed to arcade-style driving will have to change their driving techniques. The game gets even more intricate with a reference manual that's as thick as the instruction manual (64 pages). The reference manual explains proper turning rules, upgrade modifications, braking, accelerating and a plethora of other things. While any player can progress through Gran Turismo without the reference manual, its a very welcome addition to the package and will help the die hard Gran Turismo player get even more enjoyment out of the game. If you're buying the game used, try to find a copy that contains both manuals.

To help you hone your realistic driving skills, Gran Turismo offers a some challenging tracks, some made for cornering and turning (Autumn Ring-Mini), some built for pure speed (High Speed Ring). Each track can be raced backwards. The 3D graphics help show off the great track designs but pop up is an issue. Still, Gran Turismo is a good looking game. The soundtrack has some good songs, but sometimes its better when the song artists keep their mouths shut. The tracks with slight voice work or no voice at all are mostly preferred. Overall, Gran Turismo has some good tunes. Toping off the audio are dead on sound effects. Car engines sound different from one another and your engine sound will change when you increase the HP. Screeching has never sounded so good in a PlayStation racing game.

Even though the driving in Gran Turismo is realistic, the controls are surprisingly solid. Everything works the way it should and you can choose from three different driving views. A Dual Shock is the only way to play. The feedback that comes from the controller as you race heightens the experience. Sure, you can play with a standard controller, but it's like robbing yourself of great joy.

Gran Turismo is an incredible game. With options and cars galore, only the most jaded gamer would shun this. Sure, the license tests can be a pain, but the struggle is worth it. It takes a great deal of time and effort to truly progress, but the fruits of your labor will be delicious. Like the original Ridge Racer, Gran Turismo helped sell a ton of PlayStations. The game can be found at very low prices so any fan of the racing genre has no excuse not to own this title.

FUN: 9


Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/13/01, Updated 07/13/01

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