Viva Gran Turismo!
The Motley Fool
By Jeff Hwang
February 23, 2005
You might call it an import tuner's game, and you wouldn't be far from the truth. But at the heart of it, this is a pure car guy's game, and there is no rival.
After months and months and a year of delays, Sony's PlayStation 2-exclusive Gran Turismo 4 is finally here. GT4 -- the "real driving simulator" -- is the game that sells more PS2s and $150 racing controllers than any other. More than Take-Two Interactive's Grand Theft Auto and Konami's Metal Gear Solid -- games that have debuted on the PS2 long before being ported to other systems -- GT4 is the reason that Microsoft absolutely needs Halo.
The latest Gran Turismo offers more than 500 real car models of all varieties spanning the last 120 years (not a typo!), dating back to the 1886 Daimler Motor Carriage and 1886 Benz Patent Motor Wagon, and going forward to the new turbocharged 2005 Mazdaspeed 6 (sold as the Atenza in Japan), as well as several concept cars. Along with its usual stable of several generations of Japanese sports cars, GT4 will be the first in the series to include the BMW M3, referred to by some as the world standard for FR (front engine, rear wheel drive) sports cars. The new generation Ford Mustang and the Ford GT supercar also make their debuts, as does General Motors' new generation (2004) Pontiac GTO.
And with the growing popularity of the JGTC (the Japanese equivalent of NASCAR) -- which was brought on U.S. soil for the first time this past December -- the game features an expanded lineup of JGTC race cars, generally considered to be the fastest grand touring cars in the world. Import tuning fans will also appreciate cars from Japan's most famous tuning shops, including Amuse, Mine's, Spoon, and RE Amemiya.
In addition to realistic driving physics, what has set the Gran Turismo series apart since its inception is the ability to tune and upgrade the vehicles. You can upgrade your car's exhaust system, install a racing ECU, add a turbo, and tune your suspension settings to your liking -- just like in real life.
Racing in GT4 spans more than 50 courses on a wide range of tracks. These include real-world racetracks such as Tsukuba Circuit and Fuji Speedway in Japan, Laguna Seca in California, and Germany's famed Nurburgring. In addition, there are several fantasy tracks based in locations such as the Grand Canyon, New York, Tokyo, and even a drag race on the Las Vegas Strip! Among the usual race modes are off-road rally racing and endurance racing.
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