Gran Turismo 2 Review

For PlayStation

By Contributing Writer Jimmy Payne

Rating: Good
   When a game like Gran Turismo comes oh-so-close to reaching the Awesome 
rating, but it still "only" gets a Good rating, it's reasonable to expect 
that the sequel might put it over the top and be a must-have game.  
Unfortunately for Gran Turismo 2, this just isn't the case.
   Before I started playing GT2, I was pretty cynical about the massive 
amount of cars to choose from.  I figured that most of the cars would feel 
like they were thrown into the game quickly, and I wouldn't care about most 
of them.  I realized I was wrong when I started playing the game and found 
that all of the cars are worth a look, and most of them are worth buying.  
   The license tests are easier than they were in the original, but the old 
complaint still remains that some of them are pointless.  The test in which 
you have to break within a certain area is particularly worthless, and the 
test in which you have to drive in a tiny circle only adds to the sickness.
   One of the biggest disappointments of GT2 is its graphics.  I didn't 
expect the graphics to be drastically improved since we're talking about a 
five-year-old video game system here, but at times the graphics actually 
look worse than they did in the original.  The biggest problem is that 
everything looks embarrassingly grainy, especially the tracks.  Even the 
cars often have the grainy look of the cars in Final Fantasy 8.  
   The replays aren't as impressive as they were in GT1 due to a multitude 
of bugs.  There are polygon rips all over the roads, and even on the cars 
themselves sometimes.  The backgrounds also become terribly pixelated at 
times, to the point that it looks like the sky is just a bunch of blue and 
white squares.  There was even a time when a group of cars came driving 
over a hill and actually drove on the air for a while.  And they weren't 
just jumping, because no car stays in the air for seven seconds after going
over a tiny hill.
   Some cars can't be upgraded as much as others, and you can't find out
how much a particular car can be upgraded until you've actually purchased
it.  There's nothing to tell you whether or not the car can use turbo, 
intake filters, or use other components that are necessary if you want to 
do well.  It can be very frustrating to spend a long time saving up money 
to buy a car, only to find that it can hardly be upgraded at all.  
   The Artificial Intelligence is primitive in Gran Turismo 2, just as it 
was in the original.  The computer-controlled cars stay huddled in packs 
and only break up when it's time for them to make one of their flawless 
turns.  They act like they are on a set path with a set speed limit, which 
makes most races seem like a glorified time trial.  I tried ramming into 
cars to see if they would respond or mess up, and the biggest response I 
got from another car was just a few seconds of swerving in the grass and 
then it got right back on track and caught up with the others.  I can't see 
myself having a lot of fun with this game until the computer cars act like 
real vehicles and try to win, not act like robots and keep the status quo.
   Typos and bugs run rampant in Gran Turismo 2.  The horsepower readings 
of many cars differ from their actual in-game horsepower.  There are lots 
of other small typos in the game as well, such as car washes appearing to 
cost $5,000 but actually costing $50.  Also, the same few music tracks seem 
to play during most of the races, and sometimes the sound just stops for 
some reason, making the game completely silent.  Computer-controlled cars 
sometimes run into walls and stay there for the rest of the race 
(especially on the Tahiti Maze stage).  The biggest bug of all is that 
selecting the machine test option causes your entire garage to be wiped out.  
It doesn't feel very good to spend weeks playing a game and then have to 
start over because Sony was too concerned with getting the game out before 
Christmas to properly test it.    
   A lot of the bugs in Gran Turismo 2 will be fixed in future production 
runs of the game, but that doesn't make them any more excusable.  Bugs or 
no bugs, Gran Turismo 2 is plagued by most of the same flaws that plagued 
Gran Turismo 1, plus a few new ones.  I realize that I'm opening myself up 
to a lot of criticism from die-hard Gran Turismo fans, but in my opinion, 
Gran Turismo 2 isn't worth buying, especially if you own the original.

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