Sony – Gran Turismo review

Photo of Sony – Gran Turismo

Ah, adolescence. A time of too much alcohol, not enough sex and, eventually, a driving licence. If you’ve just passed the big one-seven, and you now have a driving licence to go with that bad skin problem and pencil moustache, then put down your copy of ‘Modified Cars And Topless Women Monthly’, and pay attention. Forget about buying the car of your dreams – probably an XR3i with 17-inch ‘loys – and instead pop down to your local computer games emporium and shell out £40 for this game. You won’t regret it. And neither will the rest of us.

Gran Turismo is the God of all car games. It lets you buy and race some of the most impressive cars around, from companies like TVR, Aston Martin, Subaru, Chevrolet, Mazda and Nissan. Like a mad Essex boy in his Cossie-engined Capri, you can tweak and play to your heart’s content. Fancy a bit more power? Upgrade the turbo, fit a stupidly-large exhaust, get a better air filter, whip your file out and do a bit of porting. Losing the back end a bit on the corners? A decent suspension kit, anti-roll bar and sticky tyres of turning should solve that little problem. Gran Turismo is a speed-merchant’s dream come true.

You don’t have to go for the most exotic cars, either, since there are some bargains to be had in the pathetically-underpowered-people-mover department. We (well, you need a co-driver to tell you where the track’s going) had the most fun with a tatty old Nissan Skyline that we picked up for a couple of grand, before giving it the world’s most excessive engine modifications (only stopping short of a turbo boost upgrade because the game wouldn’t allow it) and leaving the suspension and tyres completely standard. Tank-slappers were most definitely the order of the day, as we spent more time on the gravel than on the road. We didn’t exactly get around the track particularly fast, but the spectators loved our opposite-lock style. Honest.

Of course, to do all this you have to earn money, and you do that by winning races. But you can’t just head straight for the nearest race track and line up on the grid. Instead, you have to get your race licence. The B-class licence is the easiest to get, but still involves completing loads of test tracks in the shortest time possible. The A-class licence is even harder, and as for the international licence… Well, we haven’t got that far yet. It’s so much fun racing against the other nearly-road-legal sports cars that we haven’t even tried.

Gran Turismo has been programmed so well that you can feel the slightest change in the car’s handling as you make another modification. And there are plenty of tracks to choose from, too, so it never gets boring. You can even swap cars with a friend, using two memory cards. Or have a quick two-player thrash on the same machine in split-screen mode. If you have any interest at all in modifying or racing cars, this really is the only game you need. Champagne and young blonde accessories not included.

Company: Sony

A fantastic product, better than any other driving game for the PC or the PlayStation. Adding the ability to choose your own modifications was a stroke of genius, and the race modelling engine is so realistic that you can even tell what sort of tyres you've fitted by the way they grip the tarmac. Few of us are ever going to become real racing drivers, but Gran Turismo is so much fun that it doesn't really matter.