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Unlike the previous version, Gran Turismo 2 now comes on two disks. Disc number two is where the 'meat' really is this is the simulation mode. Here players will be faced with the daunting task of learning to handle cars that react like their real life counterparts.
Players can now select from over 600 officially licensed cars from 33 different manufacturers located all over the world (including a good deal more American and Euro cars). Add to this 27 tracks that can be mirrored and you can see that you will have a LOT of driving to do before you complete everything that this game has on offer.
Well, enough of the BS you most likely want to know how the game plays...
You start the game with 10,000 credits, which, when we tell you that many of the super-cars cost up to 1,000,000 credits, means that you are going to have to spend some time in the used-car lots carefully looking through hundreds of vehicles that date back as far as 1985. It's worth noting that as with the original Gran Turismo, there are some real "diamonds in the rough" in the pre-owned sections... you just have to be patient and search through the car menus for them and be prepared to spend some cash upgrading them during the game. For those of you who know very little about cars, you can't go too far wrong by choosing the lightest (KG) and most powerful (HP) vehicle that you can afford at this stage of the game.
At this point you have two choices... You can either obtain your Class 'B' License and thus unlock 11 new events to race in, or head straight for the 'Sunday Cup' - the only event in the entire game that does not require a license to compete.
Owners of the original game may want to dig-out their old memory card, as its License data can be uploaded into GT2 and credited against many of the individual tests. Some of our readers have encountered problems when using cards that use compression techniques to squeeze more than 16 blocks on them - so be warned !
The format of the License section is pretty much the same as before, in that to obtain one you must first pass 9 preliminary tests before being allowed to take the main test. There are now SIX different Licenses to be earned and while all require a degree of skill, most appeared far easier to complete than those used in GT1.
Race meetings now follow a slightly different pattern too. Most are still split into 3 races, but rather than HAVING to race all of them in succession, they are now treated as completely separate events that can be completed in any order at any time. This format irradicates that old annoying problem of having to re-race ALL of the tracks when you did badly enough in one of the races to miss out on winning the overall event. Now you can concentrate on each track individually.
Sadly missing (in our opinion), is the pre-race qualifying round. Now you automatically start at the back of the grid in sixth place. Also gone is the menu showing all of the cars in the race. You can still have a test run before racing, allowing you to adjust your car set-up and evaluate the resultant changes to handling and performance. A nice addition is the ability to watch a preview movie of EVERY race, allowing you to learn the best racing line, braking and acceleration points before racing for real.
There are also the nice little rewards that players are presented with when winning a sanctioned event or passing a series of licenses with all gold trophies. These come in the form of some seriously sweet automobiles like the new Honda S2000 or a Chryster concept car for example. Oh yeah!
During the early stages of the game you may be less than impressed with the speed that the game runs, but lets face it, at this point you aren't exactly 'tooling around' in a super high-speed auto here. Trust us, as you progress to some of the more exotic cars in the game the sensation of speed increases dramatically, to the point where you eventually have to de-tune some vehicles just to get them around the track.
As expected, the individual control characteristics of each vehicle and the highly sensitive nature of the controls, mean that you will need to invest a little time and practice before attempting to take any car to its limits. Failure to do this will just result in frustration, as your car continually spins off the track. The quicker you realize that you must make intelligent use of your brakes and accelerator, the quicker you will start to win races. It should however be pointed out that some cars are just a total 'bitch' to control. Four-wheel drive are the easiest to handle and rear-wheel drive the most difficult to master, so choose your car carefully.
As you progress through the game you begin to get an appreciation of the clever track design utilized in GT2. This time we are treated to a combination of real life and fantasy courses that will take gamers all over the planet to such diverse locations as Rome and Seattle (hehehe). Due to some of the criticism the original game received about the courses seeming too bland, GT2 will now let you scream down city streets, climb trecherous hilltop routes, rise to the unique challenge of dirt infested Rally courses and master the legendary Laguna Seca racetrack. Add to this several more traditional courses and all of the GT1 tracks and you can hopefully visualize the challenge that awaits.
The all-new 'Rally' element of the game is a welcome addition and has been nicely implemented with cars taking a noticeable control hit when driving over the rough terrain. The bumps and gravel spits are perfectly transmitted through the Dual Shock controller to further push the illusion home. It should be pointed out that dedicated rally games such as the 'Colin McRae' series offer far more playability and realism, but as this is only a small part of the overall game, you can't fail to be very impressed with what Polyphony have achieved here.
There are also the near innumerable amounts of fine adjustments that can be made to your car prior to each race. You can adjust the suspension, drivetrain, gear ratios, tires, the list goes on and on. The amazing thing is each and every adjustment that you perform does indeed make a difference as to how your car performs in the race. The attention to detail here is mind boggling.
To keep track of how close you are to completing it, a 'Game Status' area can be accessed from the top of most of the menu screens. This details the completion percentage and keeps running totals of prize money, races, wins, win ratio, ranking and value/number of cars owned.
Many of our readers have commented on how disappointed that they were that the race and lap records are not recorded in GT mode. Even the revised US version of the game has not tackled this obvious oversight. It's an unfortunate omission that takes much of the thrill of completing a 'perfect lap' when you can't really tell how 'perfect' it was. Another 'glitch' that seems to have made it into the final game is the ability to enter completely unsuitable cars into many of the 'Special Event' races, so long as the HP rating and drivetrain criteria are met. This makes a mockery of many of these races, making them far too easy to complete unfairly and shortening the life-span of the game due to you not having to save up and purchase the correct cars for each race.
There are three difficulty levels to choose from, three different car classifications and the ability to race in two-player mode. The arcade version is much more forgiving than the other mode and gives gamers the opportunity to just race their asses off.
Damage can be switched on in this mode, effecting the steering of your car after collissions. Unfortunately, you cannot damage other cars - which is a little unfair.
There are still only 5 computer-controlled cars to race against, which was a shame. They seemed to follow a pretty standard pattern in that one would race off in front, another would lag well behind and the others would stick pretty close to each other in the middle during the whole of the race. This left you with the feeling that in many of the races it was pretty much you against the track in a frantic race to quickly master the differing handling characteristics of your cars... rather than a straight fight to battle you way past your opponents.
We were hoping that they would have improved on the robotic nature of the computer controlled cars, but unfortunately contact with them is still like hitting a brick wall that refuses to be spun or rolled away from its pre-determined racing line. As an experiment, we determined where the racing line was on a long straight and parked our car on this area after turning it to face the oncoming traffic. Time after time cars smashed into our stationary vehicle rather than steering out of its way, even though the length of the straight offered plenty of time for a minor correction of steering to be made... I guess they must all be driven by lemmings !
Even with these minor problems, the reply value of Gran Turismo is staggering. We could be talking weeks and weeks of non-stop playing before gamers unlock all of the secrets, obtain all of the cars and upgrades and actually finish all that this game has to offer on both disks.
Due to the size of this review, we have split it into several readable sections. You can select each of them by clicking on the links below:
Game Graphics Game Sound and Music Game Playability Reviewers Scores
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