Being a fan of every GT game that's been made to date, I was greatly anticipating Polyphony's Gran Tursimo 4 for the PS2. Needless to say, the anticipation was well worth it. I was blown away by Gran Turismo 3, and GT4 simply makes GT3 look like a PS1 game. I haven't found a PS2 game with better graphics to date than GT4. The environments on every course are flawless, not to mention the cars.
Gran Turismo 4 is not just a video game with cars in it. It's an encylcopedia of cars. The design of each car gets down to every last millimeter, from the muffler, to the spokes on the tire, right down to the aerodynamics of each car. With over 700 cars to choose from, a car lover won't be disappointed. For those of you living in a cave for the past 6 years and have never played a Gran Turismo game, each car handles as realisticly as possible. This isn't a Midnight Club or arcade style game where you can race an Escalade at the same speeds as a European sports car, as fun as that may be. No, when GT calls itself the "Real Driving Simulator", they don't lie.
Critics of the GT franchise will say "If it's so realistic, why isn't there damage?!?!" This is easy. If there were to be damage in a GT game, then creator Kazunori Yamauchi would have it be the most realistic car crashes in a video game ever, and the only way to do this would be to convince the higher ups at Mitsubishi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and others to have Yamauchi crash their $100,000 cars into walls to see what happens. I can just see the sales pitch:
Yamauchi: "What we need is that concept GT40, Mr. Ford. All we need is to drive it about 150 mph, and hit that wall at a 28 degree angle. Then we need another GT40 to see what happens at 180 mph. Then 200 mph. Then we need to see what happens when it gets rear ended by a Nissan Skyline..."
Ford: "Get the hell out of my office."
Look, if you want an arcade game with amazing crashes, go play Burnout. But if you want the most realistic car game ever made (until Vision Gran Turismo comes out for the PS3), then Gran Turismo 4 is your best bet.
The game's version of "Career Mode" is fun and time consuming. You'll spend weeks, not just hours trying to get 100%. You have to travel around the world buying different cars from different companies and, guess what, race them. Sounds simple right, but this is where the grease monkey in you must take control by adding custom parts such as Full Customizable Transmission, Nitrous, Racing Tires, Racing Exhaust, just to name a few of the dozens of parts you can add.
The one downfall to GT4 that I can think of was the addition of the B-Spec mode. B-Spec lets you put yourself in the passenger's seat and control your car that way. The bad part? Well, you aren't actually driving. It gives you a bar at the top that you can control the speed of your car (a simple 1 for slow, 5 for fast) that from all accounts doesn't make THAT big of a difference, just helps eliminate from spinning out around curves. This feature does however let you speed up time so instead of driving your car around the track for 24 hours in one of the endurance races, you can simulate the race in B-Spec and it will only take 8!
Technologically savvy? Excellent! Another new feature to GT4 is the addition of the Photo Sessions. Once you buy a sweet car and fall in love with it like the gearhead you are, you can take it to a photo session, set it up in a nice pose with a sweet background, snap a picture using an advanced camera mode, and save the picture to a Flash/Thumb drive and upload it to your computer. Share your sweet ride with grandma across the country or show it off as the background to your desktop.
Bottom line, Gran Turismo 4 is a must have for any true car or racing fan. The realism is beyond belief. Smooth gameplay engine, extraordinary environments, smart AI. The best racing game this gamer has ever played.
My Grade: A
+ It's just like driving in real life, without the cops and tickets!
+ Nearly flawless gameplay engine
+ Fun, in depth "Gran Turismo" mode
+ Will keep you busy for a LOOONG time
+ Save photos of your cars to Thumbdrives
+ Over 700 of the world's nicest cars!!
- B-Spec a bit disappointing
- No Online gameplay
P.S. For the GT fans, check out the following link for a preview of Vision Gran Turismo for the Playstation3
Vision Gran Turismo