Thoughts on GT4 (7th March 2007)
I adore GT2. I’ve played it for years and even now I’m finding cars I haven’t race-modified before. The number of car setup aspects you can tweak strikes a perfect balance between being so simple as to be useless (think Need for Speed) and being so exhaustive that it would be easier to set up a 1940’s milling machine. There is enough subtlety to the physics to mean I’m still breaking lap records I thought were sheer flukes as I mature. The music is a sheer disaster compared to the original Gran Turismo but turning that off is easy.
So GT4 has a lot of live up to, in my eyes.
My first impressions were good. The interface is like OSX with conventional WIMP widgets. The options page is available at key locations throughout the game, so you don’t have to go all the way back to the main screen to find it. And it’s pretty.
Control and Despair
However, my first experiences with the controls were a disaster. This is less precise than using a wheel but makes for a wholly playable experience in spite of this. I found the low-powered vehicles you start with in GT4 incredibly frustrating to drive like this since they are so sensitive to steering angle.
With the PS2 the directional buttons are analogue and GT4 uses them for analogue steering. I’m used to pressing the directional pad and letting the console figure out what angle to set the wheels at.
This ruined the game for me. It was no longer about getting a feel for the car and reacting to it. It was about trying to figure out where the massive dead zone of the directional pad stopped and the fraction of a millimetre of analogue range began. This nearly caused me a nervous breakdown. The game seemed at unplayable. The biggest spending spree of my life had got me a massive dissapointment.
I started doing licenses in the hope I’d get used to it, not believing I would. But this is exactly what happened. I now adore GT4 after just a couple of days and having only done the license tests!
I spent ages getting full gold on the National B license. After that I’ve been running through the other tests, only aiming for silver awards but got gold through good fortune a few times. I’m doing this because you get free cars which can be raced, rather than spending my 10,000 credits on something which might not turn out to be useful. I am going for silver award on the Special License now. It also unlocks more courses and events.
Having legendary real-world circuits like Suzuka and Circuit de la Sarthe with up-to-date cars, including the class-winning Bentley Speed 8 LMP-1 race car is just...like money well spent.