The PlayStation was the console for innovation. For many different genres it paved the way for what games could be in the future. But by far it’s key selling point is realism; graphics at the time were fantastic though some haven’t dated well by today’s standards.
The best example is an ultra realistic driving simulation game…for the time. Gran Turismo (グランツーリスモ Guran Tsūrisumo), developed and published by Sony Computer Entertainment and was first released in Japan on December 23rd 1997 but was eventually released on May 8th 1998 in Europe and May 12th in North America. The game’s development group was established as Polyphony Digital in 1998, who are still around producing more Gran Turismo games.
So it’s simply a racing game, you drive numerous cars and racing against artificially intelligent drivers in various tracks. You get two modes: Arcade Mode, in which you just simply drive in whatever car and course you want. Then there is Simulation Mode (Gran Turismo mode in Japan and Europe), you must earn different levels of driver licenses to qualify for different events and earn virtual money and many other rewards by winning different championships. The game features a staggering 140 cars and 11 race tracks, with an added 11 that are the same as the original 11 but reversed.
So how is the game? Not bad, for something that was released in 1997 it still holds up well, the driving is great for the time, the mechanics are brilliant for the time and the graphics is as close to feeling real (for a 32-bit system).
But here’s the problem with reviewing a ‘Realistic Driving Simulator’ from the 90’s as opposed to a ‘Realistic Driving Simulator’ today, back then this was as close to realism you could get, but now it’s seen as a blocky driving game and you can’t damage cars…just like the future games? Just how realistic is this series.
Did you know? The game’s development started in 1992, according to designer Kazunori Yamauchi, he said that 15 people developed this game over the course of 5 years, he only went home 4 days a year, proving that there is much dedication to the Japanese game industry.
Overall…I’m going to critique this both as playing it back then and playing it now. This is a fantastic piece of gaming, great controls, realistic gameplay, the best graphics out there, this defines the racing genre forever. But, compared to racing games today, it’s dated, controls are still great, but the gameplay isn’t as realistic as today’s standards, as well as the graphics, though they are still fantastic, showing what the PlayStation can do.
If you like the latest Gran Turismo games and haven’t played the one that started it all, I think one play of this wouldn’t hurt, but there are better games out there that have improved the gameplay…like Gran Turismo 2.
You can get it on PlayStation.