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Gran Turismo

  Perfection. There is no other word that sums up Gran Turismo. You could try innovative, ground-breaking, exciting, deep... all of these words are appropriate, but the only word to describe this game is 'perfection'.

   With the ace Ridge Racer Type 4 already in my collection and Colin McRae Rally starting to gather dust, I was wondering whether it was worth getting GT. When it came out on Platinum (after only a year on the shelves), I finally decided to get it. I got home, loaded it up, then played. And played. And played.

   The sheer quality of this game is enough to put even Ridge Racer Type 4 to shame. Yeah, R4 has better graphics, but only just. GT's graphics are really decent, with some incredible replays and a cool fish-eye lens perspective.

   How do I go about explaining the gameplay? It's deep, compelling, exciting in 2-player mode (I wish you could see the replay of the race I had with my mate Ian) - it's the perfect racing game. In fact, I cannot believe the difference in quality between this and the opposition. Other racing games usually have a championship mode, a single race mode and maybe an Arcade and Time Attack section. Well, Gran Turismo boasts FOUR Championships, THREE Endurance races, NINE other special events, Time Attack, FIVE Single races, EIGHT Tracks to beat in Arcade mode, THREE License tests and a Replay Theatre mode where you can watch your replays at will thanks to the wonder that is the memory card. Add to this a two-player mode with either the 8 arcade tracks or the 11 TRACKS offered by the Gran Turismo side when you have a 'memory card battle' with another GT-owning friend. You can even race all 11 tracks backwards, making a total of 22 tracks. Wow!

   It doesn't stop there, either. There's a test track, where you can record your max speed or acceleration times, a 3-track hi-res mode (like the hi-spec Ridge Racer disc that came with R4, only better) that runs at 50fps, albeit without some of the more complex scenery or any of the other cars, hundreds of car models to collect, tune and upgrade... heck, if your car gets dirty, you can even take it to the car wash to shine it up again! Sheer brilliance!

   The game rewards you with 'credits' whenever you do well. These can be used to buy new cars or upgrade your old ones. You start with just 10,000 credits - enough to get you a second-hand car. It's up to you to win races, gain licenses to race in the bigger championships, before buying a state-of-the-art racing machine. I mean, what other Playstation game has this many features? Or does them so well?

   Having gained all the bonus items in Arcade mode (by winning all three classes of all eight tracks on hard difficulty), winning the GT championships and winning all but two of the other races (the endurance modes take way too long for normal game-playing times), I can say that this is... the second best game I have ever played. The best? Sega Rally Championship. Yes, I know it's only got four tracks, 3 cars and it's by Sega, but it's so good for shaving milliseconds off your best laps. Gran Turismo is just as precise in the handling department (the manual goes on about transferring weight to the front wheels - it really is that realistic), but it will never have the arcade immediacy offered by Rally.

   This is, without a doubt, the best racing game on Playstation. It is probably the best game on Playstation, although I have yet to play Metal Gear Solid in any depth. It will have you hooked, as long as you have patience and you're not one of those people who hold down accelerate all the time. You need the brakes in this game. Actually, that's an understatement. The whole point of the game is in the braking and cornering, as that's where the time is to be found.

   I'm sure that nearly everybody owns this game already, but if you're like me and you have missed out on the Gran Turismo phenomenon, then you simply must own this game. You have no

6/10/1999 Justin

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