1998 – Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo

Screenshot of gameplay using a Mitsubishi FTO ...

Developer(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Cyberhead
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
Designer(s) Kazunori Yamauchi
Series Gran Turismo
Engine Custom
Platform(s) PlayStation
Release date(s) May 8, 1998
Genre(s) Racing simulator
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer

 

Liam:  Well I still don’t like racing games and the Gran Turismo series is very easily my least favourite of all driving games.

Gran Turismo is a pretty run of the mill racing game by modern standards but set the tone for a lot of the games that came after. Before the Playstation came along, there were fewer simulation based diving games on the market with the majority of games release being more arcade based. With the 5th Generation Consoles, for the first time a consoles had the required power and graphical capability to perform at the required level for these games as first displayed with Namcos Ridge Racer. Now GT and it’s 10 sequels and spin-offs and the roughly equivalent Forza series on the Xbox are massive franchises and are the ‘go to’ games for driving purists. No other genre shows the gulf in class between the 4th and 5th generation consoles than racing games and despite my disdain for these games, it deserves its place on our list.

My main problem with the GT series (and most driving games) is that it’s just so bloody dull. Round and round a track with nothing really happening. There is just nothing compelling to love the about it,  no split second checkpoint scrapes, no epic 1v1 battles with a similar vehicle, no eye-popping neon blur of undercar lights against an urban backdrop – not even a police car. I don’t want a driving simulator; I have a £3000 driving simulator sat on my driveway… I want a ludicrous and thrilling experience unlike anything in the real world. That’s the point of video games!

I believe this game would be infinitely improved by allowing weapons onto the track. Anything that makes you more likely to explode into a fiery ball of metal and glass gets my vote. I think having ticked over midnight I’m going to be feeling pretty tired by this point and ready to collapse into a heap and start sleeping. The only thing that is going to get me through an hour of playing this rubbish is the knowledge that there will be two very very good games coming up in the next two hours.

 

Joel: This was the beginning of the end for me really. I was never quite the same after playing this for the first time. As driving sims went, GT left everything else in its dust. The graphics, the physics, the range of vehicles, the AI, the format of it all… Sublime. The game took, according to its lead designer, five years to develop and for its time, you really can see why. This, as far as I know anyway, was the first game to allow the payer to compete in so-called endurance events – and that they were… some of the individual races would take over an hour and really test your patience and skills. Between this and its followup – the creatively named Gran Turismo 2, I became practically nocturnal for a few years.

I have to admit, we had to re-buy this one for the challenge as a lot of my PS1 games have disappeared over the years but, when testing, I was delighted to find that I was still pretty good at it and although the graphics have dated a bit, the physics are still pretty decent and the cars behave more like individual cars with their own personalities rather than generic arrangements of pixels, as in our earlier racers. This is true to some extent generically of most racers of the period – as I said at the start, the physics are a large part of what made this better than everything else at the time.

I’m really stoked we get to play this game for a number of reasons. Mostly because I just love racing sims – I’ve been replaying NFS: Shift over the long weekend with the boy, who’s just started his own career and is doing really nicely – but also because I could probably beat Liam with the controller upside down. I’ll probably be falling a bit behind on the rankings by this point having had FIFA, Worms, Cricket and Goldeneye in the run up, so I will be relieved to have an easy win.  Money where my mouth is you say? Bring it! I’ll do you an upside-down-controller-handicap race special event if you like.

So yeah – with the exception of Brian Lara Cricket, for which I will keep an open mind, the 90’s range is by far going to be my favourite part of the marathon, with 5 games on my favourite console, the Mega Drive, I will be truly in my element. Bring on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – this is going to be the most hotly contested game of the whole thing. I CAN’T WAIT!

 

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