Well the time has come, the moment we have all be waiting for. No it’s not the finale of American Idol, it’s the release of Gran Turismo 4, easily considered the most highly anticipated racing title of all time. With too many delays to count and the addition and reduction of features left and right, we have witnessed a crazy ride that is Gran Turismo 4. So now the game is here, the wait is over, but does the game do all that it set out to do? Does it keep the amazing Gran Turismo series alive and well? You should keep reading to find out!
To start this review lets do a little history lesson on the Gran Turismo series. The first two games were released for the original PlayStation, which in my opinion really redefined the racing genre, giving the best simulation experience out there. So much so that there are still times I go back and play Gran Turismo 2. Then the PS2 came and so did Gran Turismo 3: A Spec, which on its own merits was a fantastic game that had great visuals along with the same great career mode that we had come to expect in the series. And here we are in 2005 where we are slowly but surely seeing the progression to the next generation of consoles. With all that being said can Gran Turismo 4 possibly keep on this high of a legacy, the answer to that question is yes.
The game still holds true to its normal separation of two modes, which include the Arcade mode and then the actual Gran Turismo mode as well. Basically the arcade portion of the game always been the neglected one for those of us hardcore GT fans out there, as I would usually skip the mode and go straight into the Gran Turismo mode. The real purpose in my opinion for the Arcade mode is for multiplayer (more on that later) and then just to mess around and check out the games’ different courses.
Now we get into the real reason the GT series has been so popular, the Gran Turismo mode. Like always, it starts you at the bottom and it is your job to work your way up to the top. This process is a long and strenuous one that takes more time then any other racing game out there today. So many racing games have tried to mimic the Gran Turismo formula but no one has yet to do it as well as this series, and GT4 is no exception to that. You start the mode by buying a pretty lousy and slow used car in which you’re going to take to the beginner races and try to work your way up the ranks. I would think the mode worked really well because of its similarity with the hit series Pokemon, which basically substitutes the monsters with cars. You get a car to start, train it (modify), let it fight (tournaments and tracks), and win cash and another car, which enables you to repeat the whole process again until the garage is bursting to its seams with your immense collection.
Before you can get to far in the game you got to go through the always-memorable license testing. Just a side note to these licenses testing, I think these are the most ridiculously hard and gut wrenching portions of the game. To get farther in the game you are going to have to pass these tests, and let me tell you, they require quite a bit of patience and skill. I can honestly admit I had trouble with the License B testing in GT4. You are scored on each event on a medal rating (Gold, Silver, and Bronze) and from there once you pass all the required courses for that license, you will then be given a vehicle, which always helps. The reason for these licenses is that they are required for certain races as are specific cars.
What has impressed me so much about the GT series is that it always has provided different types of racing from regular asphalt to dirt as well as ice, and to be honest all three of them work great. Throughout the GT mode your going to have to reenter into races in order to gain credits (especially at the beginning) in order to either upgrade your car or purchase new cars, and this is exactly what makes GT4 so addictive. The game just makes you want to keep racing so you can get that key upgrade or so that you can purchase that new car and then you find you’re only 5% done after 20 hours (somewhat of an exaggeration), and you just want to keep playing and playing to complete the challenge. GT4 is longer with more courses (some classics), more cars and just the same style that has been great for so long and is even better now.
So Joel is there anything wrong with GT4? Well yes there are still some flaws to speak of with GT4. First the game was intended to have full online capabilities, but in last portion of the development the developers dropped it from the game. We figure they were having issues getting it to run smoothly, but that is just my rational guess. It seems to me that the lack of online play really does hinder the game a bit as we have seen some racing games be quite successful online and I know we all want to show off the cars we worked on for hours upon hours online and I think that feature is greatly missed in this iteration. There are also some minor flaws still with the driving in the game but for the most part GT4 remains an amazing racing simulation that fans of the series are going to jump all over.
Well there is no use comparing GT4 to its first two games, but the third game really was one of the first PS2 games to show what the console had to offer, as it was truly a brilliant looking game for the time. Now GT4 tries to redefine the console with its visuals, can it do that?
I know I can say this without hesitating Gran Turismo 4 is by far the best looking game for the PS2, bar none. I mean it’s hard to even describe how beautiful this game really is, as it offers up so much greatness, which makes it very hard to say anything negative about the visual. First let’s start with the car models, which are the best car models I have seen across all three major consoles. Not only that but the lighting effects in GT4 are some of the best we have also seen. Every single course in the game is beautifully detailed, which left me more awestruck then anything.
It is really hard to describe how beautiful GT4 really is but with that being said the game just really defines the potential of the PS2 and really shows that this console can still compete even if it is reaching a pretty old age for a console.
Gran Turismo 4 is definitely not for everyone as it really is made for the actual real racing enthusiasts and not those of you arcade lovers out there. GT4 has the best career mode to date for the series and in racing games in general. The game does have some minor difficulties with the actual racing in the game but those things are very minor and don’t really mess the overall gaming experience. The only reason this game isn’t perfectly fun is because it does once again leave us wanting more, and in that I am referring to online play.
If you are a fan of the Gran Turismo series then you need to go out and purchase this game immediately. It is truly the best racing package out there to date, and will impress all previous fans and new players alike. If you like racing then you need to go give GT4 a shot. It’s definitely worth your time and money.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.