Gran Turismo for the PSP: A good, clean but simplified drive.

I’ve been a fan of the Gran Turismo series ever since I got the GT Concept 2002 Tokyo-Geneva for the PS2. Gran Turismo 4 is the biggest and possibly the best Gran Turismo game I own. (I don’t have GT5 as I don’t own a PS3.) However several weeks ago I managed to get my hands on the PSP version of Gran Turismo for a measly £9.99. A good deal? Well this is what I thought…

To begin with you see an opening cinematic (as you do with most games,) that shows you snippets of several races that include several different cars. It’s pretty much what Gran Turismo does in all of their games, except this time you listen to Stigma by Nosia being blasted in the background. However the graphics shown in the opening movie appear to be quite exquisite, surely this will be in-game right?

Well, as far as I found out, no. Nowhere near as good-looking. Now I own one of the very first PSP’s (The 1000 series if you’re wondering) and to be honest, it cannot really play some UMD games with full-blown graphics. So I thought to myself, well seeing as Gran Turismo was made for the PSP GO, sure enough it cannot handle as well on my old model. Still, when you look beyond the small lack of pristine reflections or shadows, you can still compare it to Gran Turismo 4 (Although GT4 had slightly better graphics than this, but that was because it was for the PS2.). Still, overall it is very attractive to play or even to watch; the quality isn’t completely there but the realism and dynamics sure are.

In-game snapshot of a Lamborghini Countach going around the High Speed Ring

Now let’s get to the gameplay. Just like all of the other GT games, When playing Gran Turismo, the car responds as it should and the AI cars can change difficulty depending on what rank you play as. There are plenty of cars, oh yes, over 800 of them apparently. And as a bonus, companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti enter the franchise! A long overdue wait if you ask me. Most of the tracks that appeared in Gran Turismo 4 make an appearence, including the famous Nurburgring, allowing the player to choose a wide variety of driving experiences. There are also three driving modes you can choose from; Time Trial, Racing and the new mode: Drifting. Of course, the first two modes are very straightforward but the new Drift mode allows the player to use their purchased vehicles to, well, drift around a section of a circuit or the entire track length, and gather as many points as possible. It’s harder than it looks however. If you want to redefine your drving skills, challenge yourself even further or want to rage over how close you got to the target time, you can complete the driving challenges. These are several challenges that appear in blocks and you have to complete each block to progress further along the map. By completing each challenge you recieve credits, however the better time or finishing position you give, the more medals you’re awarded and the greater ammount of credits you will recieve.

On a negative side, however this game is pretty much a simplified version of Gran Turismo 4 but with a Gran Turismo 5 appearence. There is no ‘Gran Turismo World’ unlike in GT4 and you can only view four car dealerships a ‘day’ (in-game, not real-time). This can be very stressfull when you are short on credits to buy the car you want, as when you do get the right ammount you need, the dealership has long gone and won’t be back for quite some time. The music selection is also very limited and you cannot customise it. You can however add your own music instead, however to do so you must create a new seperate music file on your memorystick, which can be wasteful to your sticks memory storage. The graphics also lack smooth details compared to the other games on the bigger consoles, (but it is still very impressive.) and when loading a race or challenge, it does take it’s time and thus create a strain on your PSP’s battery power.

On a final note however, it is a very good game and well worth its cheap cost as it provides hours of gameplay and a good selection of cars and tracks that you can use. Overall, I’d give it 8/10. Its not perfect, but it is beyond what you’d expect from a small UMD.

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