The wait is over...
Posted 3 years ago By - Jay Acevedo
After been delayed, halted, abducted by aliens and almost canceled, Polyphony Digital finally released Gran Turismo, the most anticipated title in the history of the PSP, earlier this month. Promising unparalleled gameplay and realistic graphics, the game has been heavily touted by Kazunori Yamauchi since it was first announced in 2004. Yes, five years have passed and even though the game manages to barely stand out over its closest competitors, you do ask yourself if the game really needed that many development years.
Why? Because knowing that other racers on the PSP such as DiRT 2, Need For Speed SHIFT and even Motorstorm: Artic Edge did not require five years to develop, Gran Turismo comes in a weird package and doesn’t offer anything spectacular gameplay-wise.
Right from the beginning, you start with a basic car (one of the 800 available in the game) and a good amount of free credits. Since the game doesn’t feature a career-like mode, the game is completely open, giving you the possibility to hit either the 100+ driver challenges via the Challenge mode or set-up single player races in order to collect credits.
The Challenge mode is very similar to the License Events found on the past versions of Gran Turismo. Braking in time, overtaking opponents or taking corners, each of these challenges (more than a hundred) range in difficulty and will net you a certain amount of money depending on how your results rank up. You would then think that you will get an incredible list of pre-configured races to tackle, just like the driving challenges since (again) there’s no career mode. Sadly, the game will require you to set each race parameter via the race selection menu. You select your mode (single player race, time trial or drift), your car and the track. Once the race is over and got your credit reward, you will need to go back to the menu and set your race parameters again before driving. It’s not the end of the world but it’s very fastidious. Some may see this “open gameplay” as a great advantage (to go and do whatever you want, anytime) but most of us expected something more structured. Every racer known to man has some kind sense of progression built into their gameplay. Its absence in this portable version is questionable and can push a player to give up on the game quickly after a few weeks.
Luckily, the Gran Turismo PSP experience doesn’t end there. You can also set races via Ad-Hoc and play with your friends, with the condition that everyone has a copy of the game (no game share mode available). You can either set regular races to determine who the best driver is or play one of the three competitive/fun modes: Party Race, Shuffle Race or Jackpot Race. “Party” compensates for varying skill levels between players by adjusting the start times and delaying players who win more while “Shuffle” assigns cars to players based on how well they do. For example: players who fall behind get faster cars. Finally, in “Jackpot”, a pot of credits is at stake for the top racer. The Ad-Hoc option also lets players share and trade certain cars from their own garages.
Gran Turismo also gives lets you export your entire garage to the Playstation 3 and used on the console version of Gran Turismo. It’s huge incentive for those who want to have everything unlocked when the console game ships…but then again, who wants to play a Gran Turismo game with everything unlocked right from the beginning? We’ll see how this works out in 2010.
Earlier in the review, I’ve mentioned how this portable version of Gran Turismo managed to distance itself from its close competitors. While the lack of a career mode hurts the game, it manages to win back most of its mojo thanks to the controls and the driving technical characteristics of the vehicles. Each has its own distinctive driving physic, giving you a great feeling of realism. However, you will understand that the same control experience as in the console versions can not be exactly replicated on the PSP. You will even find the game a bit more forgiving that usual if you’ve been following the series since the days of the PS One. Obviously, the analog stick on the PSP isn’t as precise as the ones found on the PS2/PS3 controllers so the controls had to be adapted but they work perfectly. By doing so, not only every car is driveable but also the learning curve will be less daunting to the newcomer. However, hardcore racers can still tune each car the way they want it or choose which driving aids/assists they will use in order to bring more realism to the mix. You can’t upgrade parts or anything though…just tuning. Do not expect the Klondike.
Graphics & Audio
Visually, the game is impressive despite the bland environments. Different camera angles are also available including a cockpit view, which does the job but also lacks detail. It is clear that making each of the 800 cars available in the game was a priority for Polyphony Digital. The last thing you want is not been able to difference a Mitsubishi from a Ferrari. Obviously, these few visual cut-backs to the race tracks and environments had to be done in order to race at 60 frames per second with no slowdowns or clippings. But then again…it took for years to develop, right? Despite all this, the game looks great.
Audio-wise, Gran Turismo is sublime. Cars have their own distinctive engine sound and the same jazzy soundtrack known by the player makes a comeback. Thankfully, the silly announcer who talks before and after a race doesn’t speak much...that would have killed the whole thing.
I wont lie on the fact that the absence of a career mode is disappointing. I mean, the first two GT’s on the PS One had it. Even the disappointing DiRT 2 had one.
The driving challenges will certainly keep you busy for a while. The possibility to play with friends via ad-hoc also adds value to the game. You might even excuse the clumsy race selection menu in order to accumulate extra credits if building up your GT5 garage early is part of your plans. You might feel like you should play more. Truth is, you won’t and that hurts.
Although some of us thought that the game was never going to be made, Polyphony Digital should be happy to see that there still were a lot of players interested in playing it. We can certainly ask ourselves why the game took so long to develop if it was going to lack the essence of what made other Gran Turismos appealing to play. Sure the graphics are great and there’s a bunch of cars to unlock but if there’s no structure to keep me going back to the game, the willingness to play often will simply go away. Regardless of this, Gran Turismo remains an interesting game to check out…even though it’s not worth the five year wait.
+ Driving mechanics are solid
+ Great soundtrack and engine sounds
+ 800 cars, great selection of tracks
+ Challenge mode
+ Possibility to export your saved garage to Gran Turismo 5
- Bland environments
- Can’t modify cars...just tuned them
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Release Date : 2009/10/01
System : PSP
Publisher : Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer : Polyphony Digital
Category : Racing
ESRB : E
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10