After the long wait I picked up Gran Turismo 4, got home poped it in the ol' PS2! As with each previous installment in Polyphony Digital's franchise the intro movie gets the player psyched to start racing with a rockin tune and some amazing video showcasing the wide spectrum of cars in the game.
The menu interface is laid out like a map with 3D icons for different points of interest similar to GT2 and GT3.
Lets start at Home. New to home is you're game diary which comes in handy to help you remember what the last thing you were doing because this isn't a game you'll finish in a week, or a month. Also new to home is photo mode which allows you to place cameras at differnt locations throughout a track during a replay and snap some sweet shots of your car and view them in the photo mode. The images are photo realistic and be saved to a usb storage device.
Another familiar area in GT4 is the License Center, like previous GT's you'll need to pass the tests to earn the A,B,IA,IB and Super license. One thing gone from GT3 is the Rally license.
The GT4 map has many new areas like the Driving Missions area. This is similar to the license center and has 34 missions in total to test your skills with predetermined auto's.
The Driving Park offers a cople tracks to help players familiarize themselves with how a newly acquired car handles.
The Jukebox is where you can preview the music from GT4 and customize what you'll be listening to during the races. There's like 60 something songs in there, everything from classical music to techno.
The Power and Speed area gives the virtual greese monkees two tracks to see how much power we can tweek out of our rides one track is the Las Vegas Drag Strip.
GT4 holds the gold trophy for the most tracks in any racing game I've ever played! The tracks are catagorized by,
High Speed Ring
Grand Valley Speedway
Grand Valley East
Grand Valley West
Deep Forest Raceway
El Capitan - this is a new track located at Yosemite National Park
Autumn Ring Mini
Apricot Hill Raceway
Seoul Central- this is a new track located in Korea
Hong Kong - this is a new track
Clubman Stage Route 5
Special Stage Route 5
New York - this is a new track that runs thu times square
Cote d' Azur
Opera Paris - this is a new track
George V Paris - this is a new track
Citta di Aria
Costa di Amalfi
Tsukuba Circuit - wet
Fugi Speedway - 80's
Fugi Speedway - 90's
Fugi Speedway - 2005
Fugi Speedway - 2005GT
Twin Ring Motegi - Super Speedway
Twin Ring Motegi - Road Course
Twin Ring Motegi - East Short Course
Twin Ring Motegi - West Short Course
Infineon Raceway - Sports Car
Infineon Raceway - Stock Car
Suzuka Circuit - East
Suzuka Circuit - West
Mazda Raceway Leguna Seca
Circuit de la Sarth I & II
Dirt & Snow
Cathedral Rocks Trail I & II
Congrats if you made it thru that list! Now double it, because you can choose to race on most of them in reverse also!!!
Returning from it's hiatus in GT3 is the the Used Car Showroom, GT4 has 2 and a Historic Showroom as well.
GT4 seems a bit overwhelming at first with all the places on the map but it is well organized and won't take too long to get familiar with all GT4 has to offer. The events are also categorized under Begginer, Professional, and Extreme events, most will recognize the series regulars like the Sunday Cup or the Clubman Cup.
I'm glad to see that if you have GT3 save data you can transfer your A & B license and up to 100,000 credits, one time only! So be sure you check your GT3 save data to see that you have the maximum amount of transferable credits. Because these games are a labor of love and not being able to transfer even a little something from the previous one would feel like a slap in the face.
GT4 boasts around 700 cars that triples the car count of GT3! This is trully a car enthusiasts playground! I have seen articles from Road and Track and Import tuner on GT4. I have even heard that certain dealerships have the game in the waiting area for people to play while they wait for their repairs to be done. For those with high end AV equipment you can trully appreciate the beauty of GT4 with 480p and 1080i HD video and Dolby Prologic II audio.
Gran Turismo is more than just another racing game, it's a car aficionado's wet dream. The fact that GT4 has such a vast spectrum of automobiles from the GT-ONE Race Car (TS020)to the 1915 Ford: Model T Tourer , shows that Kazunori and his team at Polyphony Digital look at automobiles as peices of artwork in motion not a greasy machine that gets people from point A to point B.
With all that GT4 offers regrettibly it does have one HUGE rusty dent....the one thing that could've made GT4 trully the "drive of your life"....Online play! Yes GT4 is gorgeous, yes GT4 has alot of tracks, yes GT has a huge selection of cars to choose from BUT it all seems painfully repetative. Like I mentioned earlier the Gran Turismo titles cater to hardcore racing game fans and are attractive to the casual gamer but this is the forth time around collecting cars from races that can be as short as 5 minutes to as long as over an hour. The payoff would've been taking that Aston Martin DB7 Vantage and racing your friend from Japan in his Deso Sard Supra and sharing the replay with other online.