Gran Turismo 4 Reader Review
I went crazy taking snapshots. 36 photos later I looked at the clock and was shocked to see the needle 2 digits down from where it should have been. I realized that my life was being taken over and like a drowning man, reached for the green triangle. Nothing! Then I remembered that the ‘exit’ key was separate and distant. I groped blindly around the D-pad and then pressed X. Freedom, at last!!!
Well, that’s what the Photo Drive mode of GT4 does to you. It is so unbelievably addictive, and at the same time terribly underrated (like the rest of the game). Well, guys, NO OTHER GAME ON EARTH OFFERS YOU THIS OPTION. By allowing us to photograph each and every inch of the tracks and then render it on high resolutions, Polyphony has exposed its entire landscaping to the toughest scrutiny possible. And guess what? It comes out with flying colors. I challenge you to convince anyone that the pictures are NOT photographs. Only the slight irregularities in the car models give them away. GT4 has fulfilled my lifelong dream: to be able to take photos almost at par with those appearing in Car Magazine!!!! For me, this option alone is worth the asking price. Amazingly, even PC games do not offer much more than screenshots. Somehow beautiful scenery with a speedometer or a gun dominating the lower half doesn’t cut it from me. And also, nothing on PC looks better than the photos taken from GT4. Unbelievable, but true. Try it yourself.
The driving? I have been through the Beginner events up till now. My meager credits from GT3 nevertheless helped me to grab a 1997 Civic Type R, which flattens anything in those events. Much more time, however, was spent trying to win a Gold Medal in the license tests. Suffice it to say that I wonder if anyone has done that. Ever.
The only thing that irks me – no, not lack of online mode – is that you can win easily by being the worst driver in a race. Especially on the smaller tracks, the turns and twists are rendered meaningless since you inevitably draw a straight line across the sine wave. That, coupled with no damage modeling and the frankly pathetic AI, somewhat dilutes the racing experience. Dilutes, but not ruins it. I think coming off from Burnout 3 (yep, I am still playing it) did not help things in this regard.
GT4 is more about the glorious automotive culture. From the title to the interface to the races themselves, it forces you to celebrate the existence of cars. It is also about not playing the game from start to finish in one go. It is like a museum where you can retire to every day, take some snaps, do some races, tune up your car, and leave the next event for another day knowing that you have plenty of time to go through all the events and all the cars you desire. You can work towards unlocking the nighttime Paris course, looking forward to photographing your Audi with the Eiffel Tower in the backdrop. Again, WHERE ELSE CAN YOU DO THIS?
GT4 doesn’t necessarily entertain you right away. It slowly seeps into your life, like honey, and fills up the voids, making you a better person day by day. You no longer look at car ads hungrily (unless they are for Porsche or Lamborghini or Ferrari, of course!). It is like a faithful wife: occasionally boring and familiar, but always warm, caring and ultimately, life-enhancing. Give it time and you will believe me.
One gripe is that the cars do not look that cool in the menu screens, on the turntable. They are somehow ‘compressed’ with disproportionate wheels. The Audi A4, for example, looks like a model from, er, Burnout 3!!! The only trouble is that my friends were not that impressed while I went through the purchase options – the cars somehow look like models. I wonder how this came about.
Yes, lots of flaws but still the ultimate driving simulator. You can just be thrilled at the way the nose pitches in when you brake. No other game does that. I think that GT4’s flaws are nothing compared to its rewards.
9 / 10