There's no option to set up any kind of race series or tournament for multiplayer games, but Gran Turismo at least does a good job of catering to groups of friends who might have different skill levels if they stick around for multiple races. Professional races don't feature a handicapping system as such, but the order on the starting grid is always in the reverse order from what you finished in for the previous race. Party races take this idea a step further by employing a staggered start system to give players who are having a hard time keeping up a head start, and if that doesn't work, increasing that advantage for subsequent races until they can be competitive. Shuffle races are one of the more interesting ideas to grace a racing game in recent memory: In them, players are randomly assigned cars from a pool, and if a player wins a race, he starts the next one in a slower car while his last-placed opponent gets a better ride. None of these options guarantee close competitive racing, of course, but they definitely increase the odds that you and your friends will spend some time jostling for position at some point.6230707NoneWhen the cars are closely matched, multiplayer races are a lot of fun.
Races are the only gameplay option available to you during multiplayer sessions, but when playing solo, you can also choose to set fastest laps in time trials or put your driving skills to the test in a different way with drifting events. Here, you can choose from any of 45 track variants (or at least portions of them) and earn points for performing drifts in sections that are marked with flags. It's a lot of fun, and because every point you earn is doubled and turned into money at the end of the event, it can be a good way to make some quick bucks. This is especially true on the dirt and snow tracks where--with a little practice--high-scoring drifts can be performed with relative ease. You can even enter a drifting event at the Nurburgring, though you only get to drive around a tiny portion of the gigantic circuit.
Predictably, the Nurburgring is tough to top where the course selection is concerned, but in Gran Turismo, there are plenty of other great locations to race as well. Tracks are divided up into four categories for ease of navigation. Real circuits include such favorites as Suzuka, Twin Ring Motegi, Laguna Seca, Infineon, and the Fuji Speedway. City courses take in such exotic locales as Seoul, Tokyo, Paris, and New York. Original (though technically recycled) courses are recognizable from previous GT games, like Autumn Ring, Grand Valley, Apricot Hill, and Deep Forest. And finally, there are eight "dirt and snow" courses that run the gamut from an ice arena and one set in the Swiss Alps to dusty tracks in Tahiti and the Grand Canyon. These tracks don't just look varied, either; they offer some very different challenges that continuously test your skill set.
Drift events are a quick, easy, and fun way to earn credits.
If you feel like you're pushing your skills to the limit but still struggling to win races, you might be able to improve your times by tuning your car's performance. Unlike previous GT games, in which you could purchase a plethora of upgrades for your cars and then spend hours fine-tuning them, here, you get to tinker with a maximum of eight variables. These include power, weight, aerodynamics, ride height, suspension, and the like. Any changes that you make can have a very noticeable effect when you take your ride back out on the track, but it's worth mentioning that, for some reason, only up to 30 cars that you've designated as favorites in your collection can be tuned this way. That should be more than enough for most people, but it represents only a fraction of the cars that you'll acquire if you play for any length of time.
Gran Turismo's presentation is uniformly slick, and it's incredibly easy to access whichever content you feel like playing with in the uncomplicated menus. Car models look sharp and nicely detailed whether you're checking them out in your garage or taking them out to race. The tracks and their surroundings are also impressive, and though they don't always hold up to close scrutiny, they're generally whizzing by quickly enough for you not to notice.
Deals like this one don't come along too often, and they disappear again before you can save up the necessary funds.
While it lacks a number of the features that the series was built on, Gran Turismo still has a lot to offer anyone who's ever had a poster of a car up on his wall or dreamed of taking a supercar for a test drive. It's also worth noting that although this is a good game in its own right, it serves as a tantalizing appetizer to come before the Gran Turismo 5 main course that's due out on the PlayStation 3 next year. Because the cars you collect on your PSP can be transferred to your GT5 profile when the time comes, any of you who are planning on getting that game are going to want to spend a lot of time with this one. And even if you're not one of those people, Gran Turismo is a game that's likely to keep you coming back for more time and time again.