… and why GT5 will blow everyone away.
We’ve been fans of the Gran Turismo series since picking up the first game on the original Playstation. Since then the series has evolved slowly and now finds itself on the verge of Gran Turismo 5. Here’s a brief look at the history of Gran Turismo, and how the series has grown up since 1997.
Gran Turismo – Released December 1997 (in Japan)
The original Gran Turismo was a revelation. The self-dubbed real driving simulator gave gamers something not seen before. More cars than you could shake a stick at, a set of challenging tracks and a license based career mode. Reviewers wet themselves worldwide, with one reviewer at the time saying that watching the replays while squinting slightly made it hard to tell if you were watching a race on TV. Of course nowadays, that’s hard to believe, but back then GT was something very special indeed. It also had a great soundtrack, featuring tracks from Ash, Garbage, a remix of the Manic Street Preachers and several others.
New Features: All of it
Gran Turismo 2 – Released December 1999 (in Japan and the US)
Two years on, and things got bigger.The car count rocketed from 180 to a staggering 650, although key licenses such as Ferrari were still notable by their absence. The track count also more than doubled, giving racers a total of 27 circuits to try their luck. This boost in content meant putting the game onto two separate CDs, splitting the game into arcade and simulation modes. With the original GT looking so great, graphical improvements were fairly minimal. Not that people cared, it still sold nearly 10 million copies.
New Features: Rally Time Trials. And a few extra cars.
Gran Turismo 3: A Spec – Released April 2001 (in Japan)
As the series moved on to the PS2, everyone expected something amazing. And indeed, things did start to get interesting. Rallying against other cars was introduced and car showrooms were organised in a more friendly way, making finding certain cars easier. But the increase in detail for the higher spec hardware brought the car count right down to less than 200. Boooo. Still, there were a few more tracks to play with, and the cars available did come from a wider range of manufacturers. Which was nice. Graphically everything jumped up a notch as expected, with the extra grunt of the PS2 being used to full effect with lens flare and heat hazes.
New Features: New graphical effects, rally races, multiplayer with 6 others (via iLink), non-visual damage
Gran Turismo 4 – Released December 2004 (Japan)
GT4 was the first game to introduce a “prologue” version – a pre-release demo which you could purchase for a relatively low cost.The full game itself brought about sweeping changes. The game was now split into A-Spec and B-Spec modes. The former was a more traditional Gran Turismo affair, winning races to earn credits to buy cars. But the B-Spec mode pitched you as a team boss, managing your driver’s speed, overtaking moves, pit stops and so on. Many suggested it didn’t add a fat lot to the game, but it was a nice addition and gave the game a new angle. The game itself though was given a huge overhaul, with the graphics and sound hugely improved over GT3. Add to this a massive number of cars, by far the most in the series so far, and the addition of pickup trucks, some 19th century vehicles and even a Delorean (flux capacitor not included, sadly) gave gamers a great overall experience that lasted a long time. The only trouble was the AI, which was universally criticised for not paying any attention to where the human player put their car…
New Features: “Manager” mode, photo mode, multiplayer over LAN, huge graphical and sound enhancements, new vehicle types.
Gran Turismo 5 – Released (eventually) November 2010
And we arrive at the present day. A lot has been written about GT5, let’s face it we’ve had plenty of time to write about it, and until the game lands in its final state there’s no telling of how good it may or may not end up being. But one thing’s for sure, Gran Turismo 5 has turned the series up to 11. Using the epic power of the PS3 and the storage capability of the BluRay we’re set to see the most accurately modelled cars of any computer game, ever. Tracks that look photo-realistic, and not in a GT1 “squint and it’s a bit life life” sense. This isn’t an article about GT5 alone, but looking at the (unconfirmed) summary below, it’s hard to not get excited.
Cars: Over 1000
Tracks: Over 20 official, with over 70 variations. Limitless with the track editor.
New Features: Online play with up to 16 racers, karting, track designer, visual damage modelling, improved B-Spec management mode with a team of up to 6 drivers, dynamic weather including snow and rain, day/night cycle while racing, full 3D, official WRC and NASCAR licenses, Ferrari, and more we don’t know about probably.
So where does that leave us? Gran Turismo has been the pinnacle of racing on the Playstation for nearly 13 years. But the jump from Gran Turismo 4 to GT5 is by far the biggest leap we’ve seen so far. The series has been slowly evolving since its conception back then, but we’ve moved away from evolution now.
GT5 is the Playstation’s big bang.
Much of the information in this article is from our memories, but we had to cheat and use various sources for some of it. If you find any inaccuracies, please let us know by adding a comment. Thanks!