Gran Turismo 4 Hands-On Impressions

We take a Lancer Evolution VIII out onto the streets of New York in the PlayStation Experience version of Polyphony Digital's upcoming racer.

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One of the most difficult games to spend any time with at this year's PlayStation Experience is undoubtedly Gran Turismo 4. Polyphony Digital's upcoming racer has more consoles dedicated to it than any other game at the event, but since every single person seems to want a go, getting our hands on one of the numerous new Logitech force-feedback wheels on display was a challenge in itself.

The build of Gran Turismo 4 on display features around six circuits and approximately 16 different cars to choose from. We opted for a bright yellow Lancer Evolution VIII and, after much deliberation, decided that the streets of New York would make for an interesting challenge. We weren't disappointed.

The first thing we noticed about the new Logitech wheel with GT4 is that you have to move it a lot more than the old model to get your car around corners--no matter what speed you're driving at. The car felt like it was suffering from a pretty bad case of understeer until we started to get the hang of it, and judging by the performances and comments being made by other players, we weren't the only ones wondering what our car would look like if the game featured damage models.

Despite our early difficulties, the Gran Turismo series' infamous rubber-band AI ensured that we had no difficulty catching up with the pack as they made their way around the course in formation. Our experience with previous GT games also came in handy when we wanted to overtake opponents, which, as fans of the series will know, is most easily achieved by bouncing off them in corners. On one occasion we actually managed to pass all five other cars by accident when we slid into a barrier while approaching a hairpin bend and slammed into the leading car just as it reached the apex.

Like previous games in the series, Gran Turismo 4 is a driving simulator rather than a racing game. Sure, the game has races in it, but the term is used pretty loosely unless you're competing with other players. Fans of the series will, of course, have no problem with the lack of realistic driver AI--it's what they're used to, but it's perhaps unfortunate that GT4 will essentially just offer much more of the same thing that GT games always have rather than some proper racing.

Gran Turismo 4 is currently scheduled for release early in 2004. For more information, check out our previous coverage of the game.

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