Gran Turismo 4 Review
When GT4 works to its strengths, it delivers like few games of this console generation.
The two main modes in GT4 are arcade (where you can enter single races, time trials, two-player battles, or LAN races for up to five other competitors) and the aforementioned Gran Turismo mode (where you'll spend your time earning credits, buying, selling, and upgrading your stable of cars, as well as participating in series races from locales all over the world). The career mode is built around a map that will be familiar to anyone who's played the series in the past. New car manufacturers are organized by country of origin, though with the measly 10,000 credits you start out with, a new car capable of winning a race may be a bit out of your price range. Players with a save file from Gran Turismo 3 A-spec will be in luck, however, as GT4 gives you the option to transfer up to 100,000 credits to your GT4 career, as well as your A and B racing licenses. If you don't have access to this kind of cash, however, you'll be stuck hitting one of the two used-car showrooms, where you'll be able to find a variety of cars from throughout the 1990s. If you're looking to go back further in time, a historic showroom will give you access to "classics" from the '70s and '80s.
While a handful of races have no license restrictions, if you wish to move beyond used cars and an empty bank account, you'll need to earn a real racing license. Love them or hate them, the license tests return, and in GT4, the tests encompass many of the new features found in the game. There are five licenses to earn, and the tests include things like simple acceleration and braking, tackling complex sequences of corners, and hot laps on courses from throughout the game. The license tests also include a couple of new wrinkles. For one, you'll be racing behind a pace car on some of the hot-lap challenges, during which you are not allowed to pass or hit the pace car. While passing the pace car is a difficult task, it's by no means impossible, especially when heavily braking in approaches to hairpin corners.
The other new facet to the license test is the coffee break, a lighthearted romp that usually involves either knocking down or avoiding orange traffic cones (mercifully, there is not a time limit) to earn a bronze medal (though silver and gold will require some speed). The ante is upped considerably in GT4's "super license" tests, because one simple mistake resulting in going off-track will lead to a failure, which is a harrowing thought when tackling a single lap at the Nürburgring, a track that comprises more than 170 turns. Lastly, because snow and ice racing is now part of the Gran Turismo track equation, you'll encounter several snowy, slippery license test courses, including a supremely challenging super license test that will evaluate either the upper limits of your driving skills or your patience.
Once you've earned all your licenses, you'll want to begin earning real money. The easiest way to do so is by winning races. Race series are organized in individual halls on the main map (such as the beginners hall, the professional hall, and more) or by country of origin (the Japanese hall, European hall, or American hall). Each hall comprises a number of different series that further comprise a number of individual races. Each race has a set of requirements that must be met to gain entry. These can range from country of origin restrictions to drivetrain requirements to specifications on horsepower or car length. If you're new to the GT series or new to cars in general, this might be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, each race spells out in detail what specifications are required for it, sometimes going so far as to list the types of cars that are eligible. Enter a screen where you aren't eligible, and the relevant requirements will flash red, alerting you to go back and change cars.
Before lining up for the starting grid, you'll be able to make adjustments to your car's setup through an interface that, much like the home garage, has received a much-needed makeover. Parts are organized by relevant sections of the car, and pulldown menus let you quickly and easily switch out parts on the fly. If you're looking to do some fine-tuning of your car's setup, you can click on the wrench icon next to selected parts to tweak to your heart's content, though it should be noted that on most stock cars, you won't be able to adjust things like ride height, gear ratios, and brake balance without first purchasing the customizable parts at your local car shop. The availability of these components depends on the make and model of your car, so you won't be able to fit turbo upgrades on every car in the game, for example.
Once your car is configured to your liking, it's time to hit the track. Here--where the rubber meets the road--is where Gran Turismo's brilliant strengths and most glaring flaws lie. On the positive side, the fourth iteration of GT captures the feel of tires gripping pavement like no other game in the business. Every in-car aspect of sensory input is carefully designed to provide the illusion that you are actually screaming down the streets of Paris or perilously teetering over the edge of a Grand Canyon cliff. From a driving standpoint, Gran Turismo 4 is in a class by itself, with rollicking, rocking physics that accurately convey a sense of weight and shifting balance on all four points of the driving surface. So convincing, in fact, is the sense of realism that you'll find yourself cocking your head in enthusiastic sympathy as you barrel your way around corners or up blind hills. There are too many highlights to list them all, but notable physics high points are the corkscrew at Laguna Seca, which wrenches your car from an uphill struggle immediately into a dramatic downhill drop-off combined with a dramatic left-right swing; the back straight at Circuit de la Sarthe, where, as your car approaches top speed, it loses adhesion to the tarmac and begins literally skipping horizontally across the width of the road; and, of course, the maddeningly accurate snow and ice courses, which require entirely new approaches to driving to succeed.
- 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: