Gran Turismo Review

For PlayStation

Rating: Good
   Hardcore racing game fans may think that Gran Turismo 
is the greatest video game of all time, and while I agree 
that it is a truly great game, it runs out of steam too 
quickly to be a must-have product.  First of all, the 
graphics in Gran Turismo are the best ever seen in a home 
racing game.  Sure, they pale in comparison to such Sega 
Model 3 arcade games as Sega Rally 2, but this doesn't 
matter since Sega Rally 2 runs on a $10,000 arcade 
machine and Gran Turismo runs on a $150 PlayStation.  
Say what you will about the game's music; I think it rocks.  
The music fits the mood and intensity of the gameplay almost
perfectly, more so than any other racing game on the market.  
Now, onto the gameplay. Gran Turismo makes the best use of 
the Sony Analog Controller yet.  Playing Gran Turismo with 
the d-pad and then playing it with the analog controller is 
like playing two complete different games.  The control with 
the d-pad leaves a lot to be desired, but the analog control 
is dead-on (most of the time...). Gran Turismo has two modes 
of play- Arcade Mode and Simulation Mode.  Arcade Mode lets 
you choose from a small lineup of cars and compete in time 
trials against your own best times, or race against the 
computer on one of four initially selectable tracks.  The 
tracks are well-designed and it's very addicting, but the 
Arcade Mode would be infinitely more enjoyable if could 
simply race all the available tracks on a points basis in
a mini-season, instead of just taking it one race at a time
with no cumulative results.  The real game of Gran Turismo 
lies in the Simulation Mode.  Here you start out with a small
amount of money (10,000 credits) and buy a car you can afford
from one of many dealerships.  After suffering through a 
painful, meaningless, and repetitive process to get your 
first racing license, you can race through a mini-season on 
a select number of circuits, earning cash as you go.  You 
can use money you earn to buy new cars or upgrade your 
current cars.  In all, the game has an incredible 166 total 
cars, many of which can only be obtained by winning a 
particular curcuit.  After a couple of days of extremely 
addictive fun, the game then begins to slowly fall apart.  
The main problem is that it often seems that whether you 
win or lose depends not on how well you race, but how fast 
the computer cars were programmed to go.  There are many control
issues that need addressing such as certain surfaces like sand 
where the slightest contact with them can (and usually does) 
send you spinning uncontrollably.  Control problems like this 
and the occasional human error will never allow you to race 
100% perfectly, but the computer cars somehow manage to go 
through every turn flawlessly almost every single time.  
It's as if they're mocking me, saying, "Have fun skidding 
around on the sand, mere human!  I'm running on pre-
programmed Artificial Intelligence, and I never mess up!"  
The Arcade Mode has three difficulty levels, and the 
Simulation Mode would have benefited from this more than 
words can describe.  Instead, there is only one difficulty 
level in Simulation Mode, and it will prove just as 
frustrating for racing newbies as it proves easy for 
racing veterans.  The Time Trial modes offers an initially 
fun alternative to the various circuits you can race on in 
Simulation Mode, but even the Time Trials get old after a 
while.  For some strange reason, the Arcade Mode has 
extensive time-tracking features such as tracking your 
Top 8 finishes on all the tracks, but the Simulation Mode's 
Time Trials only record your all-time record.  Shouldn't it be
the other way around?  In Simulation Mode, you should be able 
to track more Time Trial records, not less, so you can put 
into perspective how far you've progressed over time.  
Despite all its flaws, Gran Turismo is a great game and for 
now at least, it is the mother of all racing games.  I rented 
Gran Turismo and played it almost non-stop for three 
consecutive days, and for a time there it was among the most
enjoyable video games I have ever played and probably ever 
will play.  But unfortunately, the game lost its magic almost 
as quickly as it originally gained it.  Gran Turismo is the 
greatest weekend rental of all time, but it's still just a 
weekend rental.

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