Gran Turismo 4 Review
When GT4 works to its strengths, it delivers like few games of this console generation.
- The best driving model on the PS2
- Huge variety of cars, courses, and race types
- One of the best-looking PS2 games ever
- Tons of content will keep you busy for weeks, if not months
- Well organized menus make searching your garage a pleasure, not a chore.
- Racing opponent AI is as dumb as ever
- Lack of damage modeling encourages sloppy driving
- Musical soundtrack is hit or miss
- B-spec mode: huh?
- No online.
Not many game series can be referred to as genre-defining, but in the world of console racing games, Gran Turismo fits the bill. Since 1998, the GT series has aimed to bring the vivid world of auto enthusiasm to your PlayStation and PlayStation 2 through a combination of realistic driving physics, massive car rosters aimed at pleasing the obsessive collectors in all of us, and courses from around the world, all topped off with state-of-the-art graphics and sound presentation that's redefined the technical capabilities of the console each title has appeared on. With the fourth installment in the series, the aptly named Gran Turismo 4, we find the franchise at the peak of its quantitative powers in a game that makes superlatives such as "big" and "sprawling" seem somehow inadequate. Yet beneath all the considerable content, Gran Turismo 4 remains remarkably similar to previous iterations in the series, which, depending on your point of view, may or may not be a good thing.
Gran Turismo 4 features more than 700 cars from more than 80 manufacturers. As you might expect, the lineup leans heavily toward American, Japanese, British, and German makes, though you'll also have access to cars from Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Korea, among other countries. This variety is not simply limited to country of origin, however. The cars found in GT 4 range not only in their power and prestige, but also in their ages. The game features cars from every major era of auto manufacturing: from 1960s muscle cars, to powerful Japanese turbo machines of the mid '90s, to one-off concept cars that won't see city asphalt for 10 years or more, to examples from the very dawn of the auto era (such as the Ford Model T and the Daimler Motor Carriage from 1886).
While the game's roster is impressive both in its size and scope, it must be said that a good portion of the cars, such as the aforementioned Daimler, won't be of much use to you in terms of progressing in the game. Indeed, as you move through the career mode, known as Gran Turismo mode, you'll quickly find your garage piling up with cars from race and series wins; their only value to you will be as resells. On the plus side, a dramatically improved garage interface will let you quickly and easily sort through your car collection, no matter how large that collection becomes. Sorting through criteria such as country of origin, drivetrain, manufacturer, or power-to-weight ratio is a huge improvement from scrolling down an ever-elongating list while hoping to spot your car of choice based on model alone, as was the case in previous GTs.
The available cars, of course, are only part of the attraction of GT4. The game also features more than 50 courses to drive, including a tantalizing mix of real-life racetracks such as Fuji Speedway, Suzuka, and Laguna Seca; a cosmopolitan array of city courses from metropolises such as Hong Kong, Seoul, and the Big Apple; rally courses on dirt and (new for this installment) snow and ice; and old fictional friends such as Grand Valley Speedway, Deep Forest Raceway, and Trial Mountain. Two particularly notable additions to the GT4 track roster are El Capitan, a three-mile behemoth designed around the imposing granite centerpiece of Yosemite National Park, and the Nürburgring Nordschliefe, which, at nearly 13 miles long, is imposing in its own right. The Circuit de la Sarthe, the annual site of the 24 Hour of LeMans race, makes an appearance in two flavors: the current track and the old configuration, which is thankfully free of the chicanes that currently mar the four-mile back straight.
Beyond these impressive stats, the first thing any casual fan of the GT series notices are the graphics. The earlier GT games defined the technical reach of the PlayStation across two consoles, and this reach extends here. Car models look fantastic, and though only six cars are on-track at any time, the game suffers zero slowdown, even when things pile up in the corners or during drastic elevation changes. Lighting effects that were impressive in Gran Turismo 3 are stunning in GT4, both in terms of technical achievement (such as in the real-time reflections on car doors) and artistic aesthetic (the luminous George Paris street track or the neon-drenched section of the Hong Kong city course). The game only features three points of view when driving--and there is no cockpit view--but a tangible sense of speed is conveyed by all three angles.
Small graphical touches this time around include 3D crowd models, which are most noticeable during the rally stages. Spectators will run out on the course to take pictures of your oncoming vehicle. Then they'll scurry out of the way at the last moment. Meanwhile, throngs of spectators will back up en masse as you speed by them on the dirt tracks. Though you can't hit these pedestrians, their collective presence on the courses adds a nice feeling of danger and claustrophobia to the rally stages. On the downside, an invisible barrier pervades the perimeter of many of the courses, which detracts from an overall feeling of immersion. As a result, it's impossible to careen off a cliff at the Grand Canyon, for example. In the absence of a damage model, GT4 now incorporates a blur effect when smacking into opponents or stationary objects. It's similar to the effect found in Colin McRae Rally 2005, but it doesn't last as long. Also, while the game supports both 480p and even 1080i resolution, its implementation does not prevent a few jaggies or blurring effects from appearing during replays.
- Player Reviews: 673
- Game Universe:
- Gran Turismo 5 (PS3),
- Gran Turismo (PS, PSP),
- Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Spec III (PS3),
- Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3),
- Gran Turismo 4 (PS2),
- Gran Turismo Concept 2002 Tokyo-Geneva (PS2),
- Gran Turismo Concept 2001 Tokyo (PS2),
- Gran Turismo Concept 2002 Tokyo-Seoul (PS2),
- Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PS2),
- bleem! Gran Turismo 2 (DC)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: