By Libea Bramburti
Gran Turismo on the PSP has been out for a little while now but I’ve only just gotten round to trying a copy.
I admit to some apathy for the title for a few reasons. Firstly, Sony’s handheld isn’t really the best platform for semi-simulator racing games. The digital on/off buttons tend to make accelerating and braking tricky and the thumb pad is useless for pretty much anything let alone steering into a tricky 90 degree left.
Secondly, I was confident that it was going to be watered down and half-assed.
Thirdly, Polyphony’s Gran Turismo series has gotten pretty stale over the last 5 years (which is incidentally how late the game is…) with the possibility of the same old career slog to win more random cars. Things didn’t bode well.
Well smash my face in with a Liquorish Allsort. It’s bloody good!
How Polyphony has managed to get so many cars and tracks into 900 meg is beyond my comprehension. How it all runs at a rock solid 60 fps second and retains lots of detail on the cars is eerie. How they have revised the format to better suit a handheld title is genius (although others don’t agree).
So, the graphics, sound, presentation and physics are all good stuff being a pretty close port of Gran Turismo 4. What isn’t so good? Not a lot to be honest. Being picky brings up problems with the hardware not the game itself and for that I can’t really mark it down.
The poor quality screen on my old fat PSP means colours smear horrifically, making looking at the superb graphics frustrating but with later machines, I would imagine the problem is much reduced. The lack of analogue buttons do make things a little tricky to begin with but we coped with Gran Turismo on the original Playstation and you learn to in this as well. There are only four cars on the circuit at any one time which is probably to keep the frame rate solid. That’s about all there is to fuss about though.
The format of the game is a lot less structured than the career modes of previous titles and this has been the biggest gripe by most reviewers. Personally, I think it fits the PSP so much better. There’s not going to be many people who are going to sit through a whole career mode complete with 100 lap endurance races and a real time 24 hour de Le Mans in teeny-tiny eye-strain-o-vision. PSPs are more about grabbing some time here and there. Therefore, the ‘pick a race type, pick a car and pick a track for a two lap blast’ style of game works so well that I didn’t miss a career format in the least.
My conclusion is that this is Gran Turismo getting back to what it does best. It’s like a prettier version of GT2 and doesn’t try too hard to be real-world accurate or over-involve you. You pick it up, grab a couple of fun races at your favourite track and that’s all it asks of you. And that’s all I wanted from it.