Gran Turismo Review
Most everyone who's owned a PS2 or PS3 has played a Gran Turismo game, or at least is aware of the series. Sony's flagship racing series is also one of its overall flagship series, and is known for delivering very realistic racing action and some of the best visuals on any console of its generation. Now that the series has come to the PSP, the question in most gamers' minds is not "What is Gran Turismo?", it's "Can Gran Turismo be made into a good portable game?" While the PSP version certainly can't go head to head with Gran Turismo 5, Sony has created a quality racing game for its portable system.
Gran Turismo attempts to capture the look and feel of the console games so closely that if you've ever played a Gran Turismo game before you can sit down with it and find that everything looks quite familiar. There's no career mode, but the game's challenge mode will ring familiar. The challenges include the kind of challenges that were a part of the license tests in other Gran Turismo games – such as racing to the end of a straightaway and coming to a complete stop within a designated zone within a tight time limit. These challenges are also driving lessons as well, as passing them will require the same skills it will take not just to win, but to keep your car on the track during races. While you're learning to get the most out of your driving skills you'll appreciate that this version of Gran Turismo includes the racing line pioneered by the series. This is a line that is overlaid on the track and color-coded to let you know when to brake, coast, and accelerate. By keeping your car along the line and adjusting the speed as indicated you'll get a feel for the best way to approach and navigate turns, and the speeds at which you should be doing so.
Other challenges are skill tests that place you in a situation and challenge you to achieve a goal, such as coming from behind to win a race or overtaking a number of cars within a set time limit. You'll want to play through the challenges because 1) they're fun, 2) you'll learn how to drive the cars (Gran Turismo is not an unrealistically forgiving arcade racer, after all), and 3) you'll earn cash based to spend on purchasing new vehicles to add to your collection. There are 800 cars packed into the game, each with its own handling characteristics, and as an extra incentive to build a good collection you'll be able to transfer your cars to Gran Turismo 5 when that game is released for the PS3.
When you're ready to put your skills to the test in a race, you'll be able to select from 35 varied tracks that will provide you with a large variety of track types and racing conditions. Not all of the racing takes place on asphalt, as dirt and snow tracks are included in the game. The downside of the races is that they only support four total racers, you and three AI-controlled opponents. This means that the only way to not win, place, or show is to come in dead last. The AI does provide you with competent competition, but you'll probably be left feeling that things would be more exciting with more cars on the track. When you want a break from racing competition, you can compete in drift events. With 45 different curves to master – including some covered with snow or dirt – there's plenty of variety to the enjoyable drift events.
Gran Turismo includes multiplayer support for races, with the maximum number of players set to four. If you have only two or three players, AI racers can fill out the field to the four car maximum. There are some interesting aspects to the multiplayer races that the game has included in order to help keep the races competitive. When you play a series of races the game will set the starting positions based on performance in previous races, and if the skill gap is large enough, it will stagger the starts so that the weakest racer will be given a head start. Another race equalizer (or challenger for evenly matched racers) is the game's shuffle mode. In this mode the cars are assigned by the game, and in the next race the winner's car will be downgraded while the losers get an upgrade – the worse the finish the better the upgrade.
Gran Turismo on PSP may not be as full-featured as the console versions, but it's impressive that so much made it into the portable version. With so many cars to purchase and tracks and challenges to master, even a smaller Gran Turismo will provide you with hours of entertainment. The game has excellent graphics and nice and tight controls, but it's hard to overcome the fact that the races are limited to four cars.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 80%. Gran Turismo does a good job of bringing the core GT experience to the PSP, but racing fans are sure to be disappointed by the fact that the races are limited to four cars.