Review by darthjulian

"Decent follow-up to Gran Turismo"

In 1998, PlayStation gamers saw the dawn of a new racing game era, ignited by a revolutionary driving simulator: Gran Turismo. With this masterpiece by Polyphony Digital, racing games had reached a whole new realm of realism in terms of gameplay, controls, graphics and of course selection of cars. And not only did it become a top rated game among critics and fans alike, it also proved to be a considerable success, one of the best-selling PlayStation games of all time. In view of these merits, a sequel was of course only a matter of time, and in 1999, the sequel finally hit the shelves.

In some ways, "Gran Turismo 2" offers some surprising changes from the original game, starting with the fact that the game has been released on two discs. On one disc, you will find the tried and true simulation mode that made the first GT such a popular game, while on disc 2, Polyphony Digital has included an arcade mode that resembles the "Ridge Racer" series in terms of controls and gameplay. But let´s start with the simulation mode first. You will no longer find one big tournament you can take part in anymore, and gone is the qualifying mode, too. Instead, you will have to take part in several different races, and in order to access better and more demanding races, you´ll have to pass so called license tests, which is quite an interesting twist to the gameplay in my opinion. As for the number of courses and cars, this game marks a leap forward from its predecessor. This time around, there are 22 different courses as well as 6 endurance courses, and the number of cars has almost been doubled to nearly 650 - driving fans certainly will have quite a lot to do for a long time. And while the car and ground physics are top notch, just like in its predecessor, the controls are not perfect to say the least. Don´t get me wrong, they´re still very good, but they sometimes react a little too sensitive to your commands, especially in turns - and that can cause some unwitting 180° spins and put you onto the last spot. The newly introduced arcade mode is also somewhat flawed, even though you are able to transfer all the cars you´ve earned in career mode over to the arcade mode. It just does not feel as intuitive as "Ridge Racer Type 4" which it tries to imitate, and in my opinion, Polyphony Digital could have stayed away from this mode, seeing that Ridge Racer does such a better job at it. Nevertheless, the gameplay in "Gran Turismo 2" is still excellent, thanks to an awesome variety of cars and tracks and a great, realistic feel.

Visually, "Gran Turismo 2" does not represent a huge improvement over its predecessor - but that was hardly even possible, considering that the first game already managed to reach new graphical heights for PlayStation standards, and "Gran Turismo 2" is roughly on par with part 1. It features the same stunning and realistic car models as the first game, with a few minor details having been improved about them, and only "Ridge Racer Type 4" is able to rival the car graphics of "Gran Turismo 2" on PlayStation. The different race tracks are also able to please any gamer´s eyes with a pretty high amount of small but realistic and beautiful details, some of which can especially be seen on the dirty tracks, for example when the wheels of your car cause the mud to be splashed away. However, compared to the first Gran Turismo, this game mysteriously suffers from a few unexplainable flaws Polyphony Digital should have been able to avoid easily when you look at their efforts in part 1. Some of the cars, and especially the race tracks, for example, seem to be a little more pixilated than in the original, and it can become quite bothersome at times, albeit it´s fortunately not as much of a horrible pixel-mess like some of the early first-gen PSOne titles. If you´re playing "Gran Turismo 2" on the PlayStation 2 and turn on the texture filter, though, things look considerably better, but even on PlayStation, the slightly pixilated and somewhat grainy textures don´t really detract much from the graphical beauty. Unlike the slowdowns, that is. Sure, they are only minor and do not appear that often, and most importantly, they don´t disturb the flow of the game, but you can´t help but notice them, and one would have thought that in view of the sheer visual brilliance of part 1, the developers might have been able to avoid such a nasty graphical glitch, no matter how small it may be. Nevertheless, the visuals as a whole are still among the very best the PSOne has to offer.

The quality of the soundtrack, as it is the case with so many racing games, will mostly depend on your own personal taste. There are quite a lot of decent and enjoyable tunes, though, and most of the times, they will underline the feeling you get while you´re racing, and I´m sure fans won´t be disappointed with this aspect of the game - especially not with the sound effects. The roars of the cars´ engines are once again extremely realistic for a PSOne game, and they will surely appeal to racing fans.

Fans of realistic racing game simply need this title, end of the story. Even if it´s already 6 years old, it´s still one of the best driving simulators you could possibly find, and it holds up surprisingly well even compared to its own successors. However, fans of more arcade based racers or fun racing games like myself should take a look first and decide whether they can live with the amount of realism or not.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 11/27/06

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