Gran Turismo 4 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, March 03, 2005
It has been a long time coming, but the next installment of the GRAN TURISMO series is finally here. Combined with the new Logitech steering wheel, it's the most realistic driving experience ever. GRAN TURISMO 4 lives up to the expectations in every way, except for missing the critical online component. Even then, it's still a phenomenal game for anyone who enjoys driving cars.
Kazunori Yamauchi and the design team at Polyphony Digital have reworked the GRAN TURISMO engine in ways that make the game infinitely more realistic. After spending just half an hour with the game you begin to feel as if you're driving a real car, you can instinctively make the turns and realize when you are going too fast and about to slam into a wall. I've never experienced this with any of the past titles in the series.
Logitech has done a lot to help out with this with its new force feedback steering wheel. With a full 900 degrees of rotation, the wheel will fight you around turns, and gives gamers the best possible control interface for this masterpiece of a racing simulator. I can't imagine playing GRAN TURISMO 4 without it, and everyone out there who buys the game should pick one of these up.
As far as actual gameplay modes, GT4 is similar to other titles in the series. There are some new tracks in the game, as well as old staples that you will already know all of the racing lines on. Those tracks are a bit of a downer to race on again, but the large amount of new cars makes up for it.
GT4 gives you a real sense of the history of cars with hundreds of cars. Notable omissions include the Ferrari line-up of cars as well as my personal vehicle and classic 60s/70s roadster, the MG-B (though the not nearly as cool 90s MG-F is featured in the game). The car list is staggering though, and more than sufficient. I would've liked to have seen car damage in the game, but that is likely something that will wait till GRAN TURISMO 5.
Another thing that will wait is more improvements to the driver AI. Those guys still follow lines and pretty much ignore you. This leads directly into my complaint that would've solved the problem by providing new opponents.
The only other complaint is that online gameplay didn't make the game. This was originally cut so that the game could make its Holiday '04 release. The fact that the game was delayed to this year and STILL didn't feature online is somewhat inexplicable. I can imagine with the physics engine in the game that online would need a very good ping time (system link is still in the game), but I'm still irritated that it didn't make it in.
GRAN TURISMO 4 is a gorgeous game though, and the Grand Canyon track will blow your mind the first time you race it. The car models are awesome and I was blown away by the visuals. The game supports 1080i support and widescreen which really helps create an immersive driving experience for those of us with HDTVs. The soundtrack is excellent with a wide range of music including classical songs. The sound effects are all recorded from the source cars and sound perfect.
I know this reviews lists some complaints such as lack of car damage, opposing AI, and lack of online play, but I really do love this game. It's the best racing game to date, and I only wish I could play against folks online. That said, with these options likely being pursued on PS3's GRAN TURISMO 5, I can't wait.
Mania Grade: A-
Platforms: PlayStation 2 Exclusive
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Suggested Retail: $49.99
Fun Factor: A
Reviewer’s Wild Card: B+