There's really no need to write tons of superficial comments about Gran Turismo 4. At this point in time, you're either a fan of the series or just a fickle gamer that's hard to please. We hope that you're not the latter because come this winter, Sony/Polyphony Digital will unleash the biggest, baddest, and most thrilling racing game to date. The fourth installment brings all the excitement of automotive racing, raising the bar to the next level.
On your mark?
Yes, it will have more cars. How many more? Try 500 in total, ranging from vintage to modern to the type of unattainable vehicles you couldn't afford with your current budget. Each vehicle is modeled with exquisite detail that's finer than your woman's strands of hair. Exceptional details that are so accurate, they've even gone the extra mile to model the disc brakes behind the wheel. Yeah, I said brakes; you remember those right? You'll rely on them sooner or later, whether you're racing throughout the Grand Canyon, Tsukuba Race Circuit, or even my old hometown - New York City. Now I don't expect many of you, let alone myself, to master the standard tracks immediately. But at least when that time comes, I won't be able to complain about the lack of variety thanks to the option to play the tracks in reverse akin to the mirror track feature seen in the Ridge Racer series.
I'll be spending a great deal of time on the Arcade mode until I get down the ropes. However, the savvier players will opt to play the Simulation Mode to earn cash and unlock additional cars and courses. You'll also be able to buy and sell cars, or even upgrade the existing parts of your car while competing in various championships.
While all of this definitely should tickle your fancy, I am sure many of you have been pondering the game's AI. I know they're computer-based opponents, but wouldn't it be more enjoyable if they didn't drive so perfectly? Thankfully, Polyphony is addressing this by incorporating "advanced artificial intelligence." In laymen's terms, it means the end result will reveal AI that captures human-like emotion. Hopefully, there'll be some adaptation algorithms thrown in there to adapt to the players skill level. Yeah, I am reaching, but just imagine how much more intense it would be to compete against a computer opponent that evolved as your abilities progressed.
Speaking of which, you'll marvel at an improved physics engine offering players a greater level of realism. The characteristics of the cars are realistically designed and calculated so that they handle like the real life physics of that particular vehicle, taking into account weight, speed, friction, wind, and more. I'll have to reserve final judgment of just how much the engine has been tweaked until I get a hands-on test.
Kazunori Yamauchi, the man bringing you the next level in automotive racing
Fans can expect to be dazzled over and over again by all the unbelievable detail that's gone into this game. Actually, "photo-realism evolved" would be a more approrpiate way to put it. It's understandable if you have to stop for a moment to take in all of the excellence featured throughout the game. It's a blessing that can only be enjoyed on the PS2, filled with highly detailed vehicles and environment mapping creating broadcast-quality graphics, from light and competitor-car reflections on the player's automobile to leaves on a tree shaking in the wind. Amen, Polyphony - looks like you've answered the prayers of racing fans everywhere.
Of course the newest, most welcome element Gran Turismo 4 will introduce is the online multiplayer component. Players will have access to an unlimited number of racers of all skill levels. Interacting. Competing. (Whining?) And above all, experiencing one of the best racing games to grace the PS2, ever. But enough of the virtual reams of hype. Have a look at the fact file and screens below. Then, stay tuned for more, hands-on impressions at E3. At least, we hope the game will be playable . . . are you listening Sony? Playable. At E3.
Actual Game Screens
· · · Chris "Bahn" Scantleberry