Gran Turismo Preview
Gran Turismo was the all elusive PlayStation Portable game for 5 years now. It's actually incredible when you think about, but Gran Turismo PSP was announced when the PSP was announced. Following a disappearance that had gone on for years, the game became a joke of sorts in the game world, many calling it vaporware. Polyphony had repeatedly assured us it was coming, and it looks like they weren't kidding. Having endured numerous delays because of Polyphony's incredibly busy development schedule with Gran Turismo 4, Touring Trophy, Gran Turismo HD Concept demo, Gran Turismo Prologue, and Gran Turismo 5, the PSP game was ultimately sidelined and worked on in between every one of the home-console titles. But now it's here, and we've played it.
To apologize for the wait, Polyphony decided to make this the largest Gran Turismo game ever, as far as car offerings go. 800 cars populate this UMD game, and 35 tracks, which can be raced forwards and reverse. To demonstrate simply how massive the game is, Nissan alone has 115 cars to choose from. But, at the same time, not every car is unique, as there are a number of variations available for one car, such as the 350Z, where there are numerous variants available in the game, including the convertible. Yes, the variants do differ mildly, be it a few extra horsepower there or a more track tuned suspension in another. But at the same time, I have always thought of them as fairly pointless, seeing as how your car doesn't stay stock for a very long time, either way. I am curious to know how many unique car models are in the game - in other words, how many not counting the variants.
Moving on, upon approaching a PSP devkit running the game, somebody had left it with an Audi A3 running on the Tokyo course. I picked the unit up and immediately found myself dazzled at how phenomenal the game looks running on the PSP. Now, I will say that you shouldn't buy into the hype that it looks like Gran Turismo 4, because it doesn't. Ultimately, the PS2 is the stronger unit, so the PSP cannot do what its bigger brother can. On the other hand, the reason why people so often claim that the PSP game looks like GT4 is because its lighting most closely resembles that of the PS2 title. The cars have a very beautiful sheen to them, making their colors pop and look natural. As far as the textures are concerned, the cars are a very, very slight step below GT3, and for a handheld unit with a three-inch tall screen, that's absolutely fantastic.
The framerate hangs on tight at all times, managing to run the game at a flawless 60 frames per second, which really helps ease the pain of other racers that run at framerates far less than that. Environmental detail is very good, as well, and you will notice the differences in the way the tree and ground texture look if you've spent a lot of time playing GT3 and GT4. But, overall, when it arrives, there is absolutely no way you'll deny that Gran Turismo on the PSP is the best looking handheld game of all time.
More importantly, the physics engine features a standard mode and professional mode, essentially allowing you to choose between the physics of GT4 and physics that closely resemble GT5. Obviously, given the processing strength of the PlayStation 3 and the vast differences between it and the PSP, you can't expect the same caliber of physics calculations for this PSP game. But still, what GT PSP does isn't just close, it's extremely close, and that should satisfy every GT fan anxiously anticipating this on-the-go racer.
Gran Turismo for the PSP is fast approaching its release, with only two months left. It'll be launching October 1st in both UMD for the standard PSP and downloadable form for the PSP Go.
8/1/2009 Arnold Katayev