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Review: Gran Turismo PSP

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Gran Turismo has finally arrived on the PSP. I could swear this title was announced when the PSP was first shown at E3. In fact, they had a playable demo on display. It’s been such a long time and it’s great to finally see the fruits of PD’s labor. GT PSP is a shining example of what you can do with the proper time and dedication put into a game. Does it compare to the rest of the series?

One of the first things you’ll notice about GT PSP is the presentation. It’s elegant but yet simple at the same time. After a long intro you’ll be graced with the main menu. The menu has Single Player, Multiplayer, Dealerships, Driving Challenge, Status Report, GT Theater, Options and of course the Users Manual. It’s all very nice looking and easy on the eyes.

Single Player is where all the action happens. You first need to pick a mode. There are 3 modes: Time Trial, Single Race and Drift Trial. Time Trial and Single Race are pretty self explanatory. Drift Trial gives you the option to earn points by drifting your vehicle through certain parts of the track. These drift points are later converted into money. Single Race allows you to compete on any track with any car you own. You pick your car and race for first, second or third place. The money you win can be used to purchase more cars.

Let’s talk about how beautiful this game looks. The tracks are heavenly. The first time I saw how detailed the New York track was, I realized that this really is a PS2.5 putting in work. There are snow tracks, dirt tracks, city tracks and real circuits. They are some of the most goregeous tracks I’ve seen in a racing game. They rival their older PS2 games and even tracks from Rallysport 2. PD really did their homework but they’ve always delivered some beautiful tracks. The cars look nice and shiny. Not too much different from the PS2 games. I’ve yet to hook this up to the big screen to see how it looks but on the small screen it’s incredible.

Game play is touch and go. I think the biggest problem with the game play is actually the PSP controls and not the game itself. I highly recommend using the dpad versus the cheap analog stick. It’s much more responsive. If you are familiar with how hard some of the older GT games used to be, don’t be surprised at GT PSP’s handling. It takes time and patience to learn the cars, how they handle on the road and the different types of tracks. The AI is unforgiving and will pass you at the first opportunity. Be prepared for some long sessions.

Single player mode only offered single races. In other words, there is no campaign mode. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s portable gaming and it’s easy to kill time doing a few courses. However, Wipeout PSP had a campaign that worked pretty well. I didn’t take any points off for not including a campaign.

The dealership rotates dealers after every game day. So you’ll get 4 random dealers to select from after each race. The car selection is huge. There are 800 total vehicles available in the game. From what I’m hearing, your car collection can be transferred over to your PS3 for GT5 which is SWEET! There’s no tuning at all for the vehicles. You can look at each individual cars specs but you can’t modify them. The game will automatically change your tires for you if you want to take that S2000 on a dirt or snow track.

The replay features is pretty cool but once you’ve seen a replay once, there’s really no need to save it. It seems that the replays play a little faster than the game. You never really feel a sense of speed playing this game but it’s nice to see that it’s represented in the replays.

Gran Turismo will do for the PSP what God Of War 2 did for the Playstation 2. It pushes boundaries no other hand held racing game has before it. It’s another mark on Polyphony Digital’s portfolio. As many gripes as you may have playing this game, it’s still Gran Turismo. It’s a beautiful example of where we are going in this industry and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Final Score: [Rating:4/5]

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