Gran Turismo 4 Review

Gran Turismo 4 (GT4) is more than just another racing game; it is a game for the true driving enthusiast. Sure, you can jump right into the game’s arcade mode, make your selections from a number of cars and circuits, and get into a race right away, but to truly experience GT4’s homage to the automobile you’ll need to lose yourself in the game’s GT Mode. The GT Mode’s basics may seem familiar – earn money by winning races to spend on tweaking your car and buying faster vehicles while working your way up the racing circuits to more lucrative and prestigious races – but this is no play for ten hours and you’re done, see it all in a weekend kind of game like many racers. For starters, you can unlock over 700 cars and over 50 tracks, and run a myriad of circuits and race types on those tracks … there are literally thousands, if not ten thousands, of possible combinations here. Add in the time and energy you’ll put into customizing and tweaking your cars and you can see that GT4 provides you with more gameplay than an entire collection of racing games.

The graphics for the game's courses are gorgeous.

The game’s obvious heart and soul is the GT Mode, where you start out as a no-name driver with plenty of ambition but only enough cash to buy a small used car. It’s best to begin with the game’s license testing, where you’ll be presented with a series of challenges using a variety of different cars. Each is designed to require a specific type of maneuver and so serves as a tutorial to handling the myriad of cars you’ll be driving in the game. It also has the purpose of allowing you to earn higher class licenses, which in turn open the door for you to enter higher level races and circuits. Some players may find some of the tests somewhat hard to pass, but then again if you can’t pass the driving tests you won’t have much success on the race course.

With licenses in hand, you can race the various circuits to win cash to tweak your car and to eventually buy better vehicles. There are an extensive number of modifications available; you can improve your car’s engine, suspension, tires, brakes … you name it and you can probably mod it. All of this support for modifications wouldn’t mean a thing without an excellent driving sim under the hood and GT4 really delivers in this category. In fact, it can be argued that GT4 has the best driving physics engine seen in a video game. Each car handles uniquely, which in and of itself is quite a feat considering that there are over 700 of them. Fast cars actually feel like fast cars and handling becomes appropriately difficult at 200 MPH. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll feel a MINI’s engine struggle as you try to squeeze more speed out of it but you’ll be able to easily get around tight turns and corners. For all of its realism though, GT4 does make one glaring omission – there is no damage model. This is the price of obtaining all of those licenses from car manufacturers to use their pretty cars without making them look bad, but in a way it’s the gamer that pays for this corporate vanity. This is because there is no penalty against driving recklessly, which makes all that driving training a moot point if you can maneuver through turns using the guardrail and your fellow racers to keep you in the road. Dirty tricks have no consequence, so nudging a competitor off of the track and out of the race is an acceptable tactic.