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Platform: Playstation 2

Genre: Racing

Publisher: Sony

Developer: Polyphony Digital

ETA: April 30, 2004

 

Related Links:

Review: Gran Turismo 3 A-spec (Playstation 2)

Review: Ridge Racer V (Playstation 2)

Review: Midnight Club II (Playstation 2)

 

 

 

 

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Gran Turismo 4

 

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When it comes to racing games no series has set the bar higher for what gamers expect from a psuedo-driving simulation than the Gran Turismo series, from the cars, to the tracks, to the sheer level of mechanical customization Polyphony Digital’s franchise has become virtually untouchable in the genre.  Of course, not even Gran Turismo itself is safe from this legacy.  As one installment after the next continues to up the ante for what fans expect from a solid racing game Kazunori Yamauchi and company are constantly faced with the challenge of trying to one-up themselves, doing their best to keep the series ten steps ahead of the competition.  Once again Polyphony Digital is up to the task as they plan to add yet more tracks, more cars, as well as some formula styled vehicles, not to mention a number of other tweaks in this latest installment in the Gran Turismo series.

 

Really, it comes down to a continual, rigorous regiment of polishing the series at this stage, finding ways to fine tune every aspect of the game, and if they’re lucky swing a deal to score some new cars and maybe even get the green light to feature some real-life tracks, or at least put together some reasonable facsimiles.  With that in mind, the sheer level of tweaking Polyphony Digital is doing on the series for this forth installment is quite mind-boggling.  Firstly, the roster of cars slated for the game has already eclipsed the 500 vehicle mark, with everything from ancient race cars from times of yore to the latest in high speed engineering.  Gran Turismo has always gone above and beyond to provide a very comprehensive stable of cars for racing fans to choose from, constantly looking for ways to make it bigger and more accommodating.  This installment will most likely be the best yet in terms of selection of vehicles by the looks of it.

 

There are also a number of new tracks being added to the game this time out, some set in real cities, others inspired by real-life tracks.  Expect to be soaring through the streets of New York, navigating the highest reaches of an Italian mountain range, or even taking on Tsukuba in Japan.  Expect a mix of tracks with straight-aways and hard turns, as well as courses with a mix of winding S-turns, keeping the new courses reasonably well-rounded, hopefully doing a nice job of complementing the classic tracks returning from past editions of the game.

 

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Players will also notice a fair amount of improvement to the game’s graphics this time out with more detail being added to the tracks, and it would seem that Polyphony Digital has been able to do this without sacrificing any detail on the cars in the process.  But not only will the cars look realistic, they’ll handle more realistically than ever too as a lot of effort has been put in to make the vehicles’ handling more true to life.  This will hopefully come in handy as the Gran Turismo series makes the leap into online gaming, as up to six gamers can compete against each other in the online arena.

 

But ultimately all of these little fun facts about what to expect in Gran Turismo 4 are, well, to be expected.  Of course virtually every aspect of the game will be tweaked.  More cars, better handling, more tracks, these are all necessities most will expect.  But what will really make it a crowning achievement that helps this installment not only stand head and shoulders above the competition but also above its own predecessors?  Unfortunately Yamauchi and company are being very tight-lipped about what Gran Turismo 4 may hold to pull this off, so that of course leaves us with little alternative but to look to baseless assumptions and ten foot long wish lists where reality has no place.

 

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Probably the biggest rumor floating around Gran Turismo 4 is the possible inclusion of motorcycles in the game.  There’s been no firm confirmation of this as of yet, and the closest thing to any solid evidence of their possible presence in the game stems from information in a Motor Trend article covering a behind the scenes look at the development of the title.  In it they saw a number of super bikes being tested on the track and were told by Sony reps at the test that bikes may be included in a hidden bonus area of the game, though this was by no means concrete.  Motorcycles being added to the Gran Turismo series would be a huge leap for the franchise, adding a totally new dynamic to the races.  Couple this with the sizeable rise in popularity that bikes have enjoyed in gaming over the last few years through titles such as the Moto GP series and the motorcycles available in Midnight Club II and Polyphony Digital has that much more reason to include the vehicles in the game.  Hopefully they’ll take note of the increased popularity of these two wheelers and make the leap in GT4.

 

It’s funny just how much hype surrounds a new Gran Turismo game as it approaches release.  People will get more and more excited about it for the six months leading up to its release, love it to peaces for a few months then you don’t hear about the game until six months before the next sequel comes.  Hopefully Polyphony Digital will make enough tweaks and totally new additions to the game that Gran Turismo 4 can be just as much of a leap in racing over GT3 as that was over GT2 and so forth.

 

Mr. Nash

November 8, 2003

 

 

 

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