Gran Turismo 4
By Charlie Goodrich Friday, 1 Apr 2005

Racing fans start your engines. The Gran Turismo series is one of the most celebrated and realistic racing simulators to grace our videogame libraries. So it comes at no surprise that GT4 maintains that excellence. However, it seems that Polyphony Digital doesn’t want to take any chances and add innovative features to their franchise. Or they might have caught the Halo 2 bug and were just lazy. Similar to Halo 2, GT4 was given four years to be made. To add what they did makes you think what PD was doing during those four years. Sure the game has 650 cars and very nice graphics, but there is no way it took them four years to update some race tracks and make computer generated cars. Just because a videogame series maybe successful doesn’t give the manufactures the right to slack off and create something that is simply mediocre compared to the other games in that series.

This leads us to the only down side to the game. People who played GT3 are going to get a very familiar experience. The tracks from GT3 return and only a few new ones are offered. They did add B-spec mode. In this mode you give commands to your car. PD wants people to think of this like a manager mode. You don’t race but you determine when your car passes others, takes pit stops, and how fast it goes around corners. I thought this was boring at first but it does have good uses. I used B-spec during endurance races. Instead of sitting in front of the TV for two or three hours on end, you can get up and do something else. Just set your car to pass others and it takes pit stops when it needs to. You can regain control if you want during trips to the pit stop. For anything other than an endurance race B-spec isn’t useful. Hopefully GT5 takes a more daring leap forward.

Like I said before GT4 has beautiful graphics. The cars look more realistic then ever and the tracks are gorgeous. It is the little details that make GT4 a visually stunning game. If you go off course, remarkable puffs of dirt bellow into the air and then settle. Photographers and fans standing along side the track during rally races are 3-D creations that move away from your oncoming car. Props to PD for finally addressing this overlooked issue. And in some of the levels the backgrounds are real. They took pictures of the locations and placed them in the horizon. They did this with the Grand Canyon and it looks amazing. Simply put this is the beat looking racing game of all time.

The audio in GT4 is outstanding. Each car has its own sound that makes each unique. And if you buy new exhaust or a turbo set the car takes on a new sound. If you are racing in first person mode and accelerate beyond about 100mph, you will start to hear the wind hit the car. But if you are driving behind someone and going 100mph, the wind sound stops because the car ahead of you is displacing the air and when you pass them or move to the side the sound will return. These are the little things that make this the best racing game available. The soundtrack in GT4 sports over forty songs. They have artists like Judas Priest, Van Halen, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Donnas, Jeff Beck, Joe Satriani, James Brown and Jimmy Eat World. This offers the player a good choice of songs they want to hear and songs they don’t want to hear. Luckily you can pick which ones you want to listen to while racing.

The gameplay is as close to real as you can get in a racing videogame. The GT series has always set the standard for car physics and GT4 is no exception. It takes longer for heavier cars to brake or certain cars may not handle as well as others and if you go off track four wheel drive cars will be able to go faster than say front wheel drive cars. PD took the time and made sure that everything feels like the player is driving the car.

GT4 is the complete package when it comes to a racing game. Hundreds of cars, beautiful graphics, excellent sound and a great gameplay make this a wonderful game. Unfortunately, GT3 was the same way. For those who played GT3 this game won’t seem as great as it is because so there is so much you will experience for a second time. If you aren’t sure whether to buy or pass on this game go rent it and decide for yourself. But for people who missed GT3, GT4 should be a welcomed entry to your game collection. Ultimately the final verdict on Gran Turismo 4 comes down to whether or not you played Gran Turismo 3.

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