Gran Turismo 4

Review

posted 5/9/2005 by Jennifer Lam
other articles by Jennifer Lam
One Page Platforms: PS2
Once you go Gran Turismo you never go back. After experiencing Polyphony Digital’s mastering of the racing simulation franchise, it’s hard to imagine yourself playing anything else. The same holds true for the fourth entry in this venerable franchise which promised to take the franchise to the next level with the addition of online play and the most realistic physics system to date. While the online features didn’t make the cut before the shipping date, Polyphony still managed to deliver what is, bar-none, the most realistic racing simulation ever created.

Polyphony Digital knew not to mess with a winning formula so instead of going back to the drawing board, the developers decided to build upon their already successful blueprint. The end result isn’t the reinvention of the racing genre, but the next logical progression of it. When you’re already creating the most realistic driving experience on the market, it’s tough to deliver something wholly unique and genuine. What you get are a couple of neat additions, but nothing that can really be perceived as groundbreaking or monumental.

Perhaps the most notable addition is the Photo Travel Mode which allows players to photograph their vehicles in exotic locations. As an added bonus, players who have an Epson printer can plug it into the PS2’s USB port and print out a copy of their creation. This sounds rather silly but when you take into account the game’s photorealistic graphics, it’s easy to see why this mode would be so attractive. Furthermore, this feature is accessible during races as well so that you can take snapshots of your vehicle as it screams around corners and clings to the track.

While many will argue that this feature doesn’t really enhance the driving experience, we beg to differ. Taking pride in one’s vehicle comes with the territory of professional race car driver. Before one can excel at the track, one must first learn to love his vehicle and all of its inner workings. Car people spend hours washing, waxing and servicing their vehicle so that it’s the most attractive ride on the road, why not add that facet into the vide game as well? The fact that the “photos” look photorealistic makes this even more alluring, as is the ability to hook up an Epson printer (via USB) and print out your creation. Try showing one of these pictures without telling a friend and see if he can tell that it’s from a video game.

Another neat addition (although rather useless) is the B-Spec mode. It essentially places you in the boots of a crew chief who has to give directions to his driver. The AI controls the races in this mode and you’re limited to giving orders such as “speed up,” “try to overtake” etc. This is actually nice for those endurance races that take 3 days to finish, but it will most likely go unnoticed by a vast majority of players, especially the gear heads who crave that hands-on approach that Gran Turismo is so famous for.
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