Gran Turismo for Sony Playstation
Developed by Sony® Computer Entertainment America, Inc.

Any game involving racing of any sort is generally I give at least a cursory glance. This one I had looked at this one a number of times, but it finally took some exposure to the actual game before I broke down and bought it. I'll keep playing it until one of us is beaten – and it won't be me.

The theme of the game is pretty basic: auto racing. Decidedly European auto racing, with tons of cars from various manufacturers (Chevrolet, Honda, Nissan, Acura, Aston Martin, Mitsubishi, and more) and a load of Grand Prix-style tracks, lots of left and right turns, hairpins and big swoopers. The variety of cars is extensive, ranging from a cheap and slow Honda Civic to Chevy Camaros and Corvettes to supremely expensive Aston Martins. There are a number of hidden cars and tracks as well.

Before I bought GT, I had invested in a new "Dual Shock" analog controller. The "Dual Shock" is the Sony equivalent to a Nintendo 64 controller with a Rumble Pak installed, meaning that when, in GT's case, you slam your car headlong into a guardrail, the pager motors inside the controller vibrate, giving you tactile feedback. The analog controls are two sticks set just inside the normal controls, which give you the ability to vary the strength of you controller action.

To clarify: In GT (or any driving game) you make the left stick control your steering. If you push the stick all the way in one direction, you're turning your steering wheel all the way in that direction. If you push it only partway in a direction, you're only turning the wheel partway. The same is true for the right stick. Make it the accelerator, and you can "feather" it. Using the controller buttons limits you to an "on/off" situation with your gas pedal, which can make the game difficult.

The game bills itself as "The Real Driving Simulator," and I'd be hard-pressed to disagree. Using the analog controller gives a remarkable feeling of actually driving the car. Any situation you might get into if you were really driving a car on a track, you can get into here. Head into a turn too fast, you're going into the wall. Head out of a turn and get on the accelerator too soon, you're going to spin out. Overbrake into a turn, and you lose steering control.

The graphics of the game are awesome, with each car rendered in faithful detail. The tracks are well-done as well, and are set in a great variety of places. Some take place during the day, some at night. The locations are varied too; deserts, plains, mountains, valleys, and so on. You're allowed to choose the color of your car for most, which is always a neat option.

I usually opt for black. (Black is fast, or so they say.) The sound is good as well, lots of engine noise (which changes noticeably between cars; the Civic sounds like a Civic, and the Corvette like a Corvette) and screeching tires. The music has a decidedly techno flavor to it, and gets old pretty quick.

A very cool feature is the replay function. Once you complete a race, the computer begins a replay of it. It shows your car flying around the track from constantly changing angles, much like you were watching it on television. You can change the angle as the race progresses, seeing the action from every which way.

The only problem, albeit a small one, is the lack of a rewind function. Once the replay starts all you can do is stop it. You can also save replays.

The game has two play modes, Arcade and Simulation. Arcade is very simple, a "get in and go" race. You choose a track and a car a go for it. This is more fun when it's a two-player battle, but is good for practice when solo. Simulation is far deeper and complex. You take on the role of a driver just breaking into the world of racing.

There are several play modes within Simulation mode, like Time Trial and the GT Cup. The GT Cup is where the real challenge is, however. The are four cups for you to win, and to enter each you need to have a license. You take various tests to prove your driving ability, beginning with the simple B-Class license, then the tougher A-Class, and finally the ultra-challenging Super A-Class. Getting each license allows you to take part in a season of races, over which you collect money, with which you can upgrade your vehicles, and buy new ones. The object is to eventually win all four cups, which is no easy task.

I'm quite impressed with this game. The attention to realism is constant throughout the game, and the variety of options definitely serves to keep the player interested. My only complaint about it is that it is just so damned hard to get the licenses, and to reach the level of play which the programmers apparently think you should reach. Often I have (thought I) raced a track as well as I think I can race it, only to find myself a second or more off the times set by the programmers.

I suppose that with time and extensive play, this level of play can be reached, but I pride myself on actually having some semblance of a life, so I may not ever be able to dedicate the required amount of hours to reach that level. I mean, I do have a life, you know. Sure, it's a life devoted to playing videogames and jerking off, but still.

Review by Mario Speedwagon