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Platform

PlayStation 2

 

Genre

Racing

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Polyphony Digital

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

March 2005

 

- Amazing graphics

- Over 700 cars

- Tons of tracks

- Trucks now included

- Physics improved

- Top notch sound effects

- Improved AI

 

 

- Hit-and-miss soundtrack

- Some of the winnable cars are not all that useful

- B-Spec mode is boring

- Faster tire wear will be troublesome for some players

 

 

Review: Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec (PlayStation 2)

 

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Of course, you aren’t going to be experiencing very many of these tracks or computer controlled opponents if you don’t get your licenses.  Like it or not, licenses are back, and players will need to start earning them fairly early on if they want to really experience what Gran Turismo 4 has to offer.  There are some interesting new additions to the licensing process that make things a little more interesting, however.  Firstly, “coffee breaks” have been added, which bring a nice, light-hearted break to the otherwise grueling tests players have to go through.  In these, players will find themselves swerving between, or trying to hit orange cones as they attempt to complete the courses’ objectives.  Thankfully there is no time limit set for what a player needs in order to get a bronze medal in the coffee breaks, as they are quite challenging, and take a fair bit of time to master.  The other noticeable addition to license tests is that sometimes players need to do an entire lap of certain tracks, but in doing so they will be following a pace car.  If for any reason players hit or pass the pace car, though, they automatically fail that test and have to redo it.

 

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Thankfully, though, Gran Turismo 4 offers more than one game mode for players to choose from, which is the norm for the series, and particularly nice when players need a break from the licenses and cash accumulation.  As usual, players will have the choice between an Arcade mode, and the series’ career mode.  Arcade mode is great for some quick pick-up games when friends are over, but more than likely most people will be spending the majority of their time playing in career mode.

 

The nice thing about career mode (officially called Gran Turismo mode) in Gran Turismo 4 is that there have been a number of tweaks made to its various facets this time around.  Right off the bat, players can transfer up to 100,000 credits from their GT3 saved game into GT4, allowing them to buy a nice car and get down to business much faster than they otherwise would if they had to start from scratch.  On top of this, the interface in the player’s garage has been improved so that people can more readily select which car they want to drive, which is a definite must have considering the game has 700 cars available to use this time.  When partaking in the races, there are two types of play available.  Firstly there is A-Spec mode, where players directly control the car, and can earn A-Spec points that slowly unlock different tracks in the game.  Secondly, there is B-Spec mode, where players act as a sort of coach to the car driver, instructing when to speed up, slow down, and pass people.  Ultimately, A-Spec mode is the far superior way to do the races.  The lack of interactivity in B-Spec mode makes the whole thing very boring very fast.  At best, it makes for a very easy way to earn money, but the thrill of directly controlling a car when making a difficult pass, or working through a vicious S-turn is lost.

 

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- Playstation 2 Game Reviews

- Racing Game Reviews

- Reviews of Games Developed by Polyphony Digital

- Reviews of Games Published by Sony Computer Entertainment

One area of Gran Turismo 4 that is surprisingly hit and miss is its audio.  Compared to previous soundtracks in the GT series, this time out the music is very unimpressive.  There are a number of uninspired pieces littered among the songs available while racing.  Some of this is just reflective of the continuing downward spiral the music industry has been in for several years now, but it in no way negates the generally dull songs in GT4.  It’s not to say the soundtrack is a total waste, as there are

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wide-range of classical pieces included in GT4, which are a welcome addition to the series, and a number of the electronic pieces present are also quite nice.  Despite the so-so soundtrack, the sound effects are actually some of the best to be found in the Gran Turismo series.  The sound of the engines, and exhaust are of top quality, but where things will really start to amaze players is how well GT4 pushes sound around the driver.  If you have access to surround sound, it completely changes the experience when playing Gran Turismo 4.  Hearing cars pass you, or the whistling of air when reaching high speeds goes a long way in heightening the visceral racing experience.

 

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What makes Gran Turismo 4 such a worthwhile experience is not only that it adds so many new things to the series in terms of cars and tracks, it’s that the game has tiny tweaks to it as well that launches it so much further ahead of the competition in terms of being the penultimate racing simulator for the PlayStation 2.  If you’re a race fan, Gran Turismo 4 is a must have for your PS2 library.

 

Mr. Nash

(April 14, 2005)

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