Liam’s Game Room #47 (Gran Turismo 4, Playstation 2)

Introduction

Gran Turismo 4 is a driving simulator game developed by Polyphony Digital and published by Sony for the Playstation 2 in 2004. Gran Turismo 4 is the 4th game in the series and was teased in 2003 with Gran Turismo 4 Prologue, which is something that the developers did previously with Gran Turismo 3 Prologue. These prologues are teasers for the game to try and increase interest in the game prior to release, similar to how Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes was considered to be a teaser and a preview of what the game is going to look like. Polyphony Digital has continued this trend with the next game in the Gran Turismo series with Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, but was dropped with the release of Gran Turismo 6 not having a prologue edition. I think that the prologue editions are quite clever because the player is still getting to experience the game before release, similar to how Playstation demo discs that were in magazines would have previews of upcoming games, however, the Prologues for Gran Turismo were sold in stores, whilst the demo discs were free.

Gameplay

Gran Turismo 4 is a driving simulator where the goal is win all the races in the game, but there are some issues with this that I will explain later. The first thing that the player will need to do is to obtain the licences that will fully unlock all the races. There are races that the player can do without requiring a licence, but this races are few and far between, so it is recommended that the player gets their licences first thing in the game. There are 5 licences that the player can obtain, which are B, A, International B, International A and Special licence. Within each licence, there are 16 tests that the player will need to pass to unlock the licence. The first two licences I found to be really simple, but there is one major problem with the way that the game judges the player that makes getting the licence frustrating. I found if I went marginally wide and all 4 wheels go off the track, then the game will fail the player immediately. This becomes a major issue in the Special licence because there are lap tests that can take 9 minutes to complete and going wide on one corner will make the test fail. Another problem is in the lap challenges, there is a pace car that the player needs to follow and if the player completes a corner better than the pace, which is easy doable, then the player might end up crashing into the pace car, which is an immediately fail.

The way that the game judges the player performance for each test is by showing 3 times for the player to beat, which are split into Bronze, Silver and Gold. If the player gets all golds in all of the tests in one licence, then the player will be awarded 3 cars, silver 2 cars and bronze 1 car. This means that if the player wants the widest range of cars from the beginning if the game, then perfection is required and some of the tests to get golds on are brutal. What is more annoying is that some cars can only be unlocked by getting all golds on these tests and these cars are some of the best in the game.

The event variety in the game is quite vast and there are variations of the same track throughout the wide choices of events. There are so many events for the player to do, everything from beginner races where any car can be used, through to manufacturer specific races where specific cars and models can only enter the race. The street circuits and rally stages are quite fun because there are many difficulties of these events. Events can be completed multiple times and the player will receive the same car over and over again, which can be used to earn a lot of credits to buy lots of cars.

The endurance events in this game are ridiculous and in some cases ludicrous because some of the race last 24 hours. There are many of these 24 hours endurance races that actually last 24 real time hours and the race cannot be saved part way through. What this means is that these events cannot be completed unless the player uses something called B mode, where the computer controls the car for the player and this can be played at a higher speed. The issue though is once a pit stop has happened, the speed will slow down to normal speed, meaning that these races can still take 12+ hours, which is simply not healthy. If the races were shortened down like Forza Motorsport does with longer races which take a maximum of an hour, then it would not be one of my biggest complaints, but I am not sure why this 24 hour races are in the game and required for 100%.

Gran Turismo 4-1.jpg

The gameplay of the game is quite fun, but the fact that the cars do not take damage means that the player can crash into other drivers to gain an advantage. TOCA Race Driver 3, which was released around the same time allows the cars to take damage when the player crashes, which encourages the player to drive better otherwise there will be downsides. Whilst the cars in Gran Turismo 4 feel realistic and are fun to drive, the fact that the player can take advantage of driving into another car and bumping them off the track means that some of the consequences of being too aggressive are not present in this game. The amount of tracks that are available for the player to race on is amazing and it is a mixture of licensed tracks like Le Mans and Laguna Seca, with some original tracks that are created by the developers. This variety is great because these created tracks add something new and something different.

The customisation features in the game are great and have a lot of length, meaning that the player can upgrade a car with very little power and make the car go really fast. The look of the car can also be customised with custom paint jobs and spoilers that can be added to the car. The spoilers also have an effect on the handling on the car that the player is using and can also be customised in terms of height. I definitely think that the tiers of upgrades also allow for the player to upgrade their cars to the level they want and also do minor upgrades if the player needs a little bit more power or handling.

Gran Turismo 4-2.jpg

The graphics in this game are great with amazing graphical detailing on the circuits and on the cars. The field of view in this game is nice and wide and the game looks great from all of the camera angles. There are some small details like seeing the drivers shifting gear and the speedometer and rev counter being perfect in tune with the speed that the player is travelling at. The only thing I would want to be different is that when a car is upgraded and goes above the rev counter of the original counter, the game does change the internal counters in these cars, meaning that the rev counter in these cars become useless.

Conclusion

Gran Turismo 4 ends up being a game where the game is well polished in terms of graphics and the way the game plays, but is heavily affecting by the fact that the game requires the player to complete race that last 24 hours. As is stated in a lot of video game manuals, it is not recommended that the player does not play for more than an hour without rests, so the fact the game requires this for 100%, means that it will annoy completionists. However, the variety of vehicles and races means that if the player can avoid these tedious, endurance races, then the game will be enjoyable.

8/10

Copyright ©2017 Liam Piper. All Images Used Under Fair Use

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