(R) Gran Turismo (PSP)

January 26th, 2010 -

It’s taken me quite some time to get around to this review, but it has given me a lot of time to really see what this game has to offer. It’s also allowed me to make hard decisions on what was a good feature and what was a bad on, so without further ado…

Gran Turismo and I have a long history; I was there day 1 when the series began. I was there when it hit its peak at 2. I was there when it hit its valley at 4. And now I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the next numerical version of this franchise. But lets talk about GT PSP: for starters, it’s a portable game; everything about it has been designed with riding on the bus or taking a 15min break in mind. For some people a simple port of GT4 would have been fine, but Polyphony wanted to make a PSP game, not a port. And that’s what they did. However, most gamers are going into this expecting GT4 and not Gran Turismo Portable.
800 cars… Eight hundred… that’s 100 times 8 folks… on the PSP… mind blowing. The even more astonishing part about that is that each car handles and performs differently. Racing a Volvo Estate around Deep Forest, and then racing a TVR Speed 6 is like racing 2 different tracks; everything you do about how you approach each turn is different – the replayability here is limitless. GT5 Prologue’s “Quick Tune” makes an appearance here in lieu of the absence of modification parts. While not as robust as prior GT games, it gives you enough flexibility to make your car perform and handle completely different. For instance, I bought a Honda Odyssey minivan that was AWD, I did some work in quick tune and ended up being able to drift it. Let me tell you, drifting a minivan is exhilarating [/sarcasm].
The graphics are almost as mind blowing as the car count. If you see this running on the new PSP Go’s brilliant screen you will have to stop and question yourself, saying “that cant be a PSP game,” but it is. Honestly though, I expected no less from Polyphony as they have always pushed the graphical boundaries of each system. Also, the License Tests Driver Challenges are a blast and give you a nice break from just racing; completing them with a gold cup is also a good way to earn money. There is tons of diversity in the tracks, from rally circuits to real world road courses to fantasy street tracks. On top of that, running a drift or race on each track makes each one completely different. The combination of cars + track layout in this game is staggering. Reinventing a track because you’ve raced it too much and know the turns too well is not something I’ll ever be forced to deal with in this game.
As much as I thought it would create a new strategy, having only 4 dealers to choose from between each race has slowly become more of an annoyance. Initially I thought this would provoke me to buy cars I normally wouldn’t (and it has), but if I want to show someone a car thats in the game, or if my buddy says “hey, I wanna drive an old mustang, is there one?” I have to say “yeah, and I have 1 million credits, but you’re going to have to wait for me to do some races and hope Ford shows up”. It’s not a deal breaker, but I hope this feature never finds its way to the home consoles.
800 cars… well, if you subtract all the skylines it’s about 400 cars *rolls eyes*. This has plagued every Gran Turismo game to date, so I don’t know if i can really say this is a con, as anyone who has played GT in the past knows what they are getting into. But honestly, even if you shave off 400 cars, thats about 350 more then most PSP driving games. Money is a hard topic; you seem to acquire it about 5x faster than any other GT game, which is initially kind of annoying. I had enough for a viper after about 2 races and a big drift; however, the longer I’ve played this I almost wish all the cars were unlocked from the start, because most of the time I just want to jump in and drive something. Speaking of which…
Grinding, in a home version of GT you have stuff to work for: new parts, new cars to compete in certain races, and so on. In this version the motivation for winning races is to get more cash to buy all the cars. It literally has the “you gotta catch’em all” atmosphere (I choose you Nissan GTR!!). If that wasn’t enough, the high end race cars are in the millions of credits bracket, and even though you earn money fast, it’s just not fast enough when you’re trying to get $5,000,000 credits. The quickest way to do this is to get up to S class on the test track (oval) and then run the Bugatti Veyron around it 2 laps at a time, to get $1
50,000. Which is great… and boring. I honestly think having all cars unlocked with a more “arcade mode” approach would have been better for a portable game.
Final Verdict:
Really my only complaints about this game are minor gripes and nit picking. It may seem like I ranted a lot about negative stuff, but honestly, 90% of the time I’m playing this I’m doing so with a smile. At the end of the day it has everything you could ask for in a portable Gran Turismo game: tons of cars, lots of tracks, relaxing menu music, cool facts about each car, and beautiful graphics. If you’re in the market for a portable racing game, there honestly isn’t anything else that can compete with this. I’ve been trying to find a good portable racing sim for years and the only one that i thought was remotely good was TOCA 3 which wasn’t released in the US… this game really is in a league of its own.

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credit screenshots to IGN

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