Gran Turismo 2 is revved up fun

Gran Turismo 2
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Gran Turismo’s release last year changed my opinion completely about racing games. What was once considered a genre of shallow, fast racers and slow, boring simulations suddenly experienced a racing title with depth, tons of cars and plenty of tracks to race them on.

Talk has been brewing about the anticipated sequel, with its rumored 500+ cars, tons of additional tracks, and a brand new rally engine. These talks were also ruined by extensive delays. The worst delay came out when Gran Turismo 2 would not even make it to release before the Christmas holiday, as some retailers expressed a possible February 2K release date!

Fortunately due to heavy public criticism, Polyphony decided to release Gran Turismo 2 out to the States in mid-December. But still, was releasing the game a good idea, or should it have waited for the expected February release date to fix out some of the small problems?

First of all, the amount of cars in their claim is accurate, as the 500+ cars from 36 well known (and some pretty obscure) manufacturers provide more than enough for any gearhead to enjoy. And if that’s not enough, how about 25 different tracks (road and dirt) to race them on?

Two discs comprise the overall GT2 practice. The first disc is the Arcade disc, which allows you to select a course to race with one of the default racers (or even a racer built in the Sim mode), while the second disc is the Simulation mode that is the heart of the game.

However, this Simulation mode is much easier the second time around. Remember the frustration caused by spending hours on one license examination just so you can play the more advanced tournaments? It can be safely said the license tests are much easier. In fact, it only took me about three hours to obtain the International A License (I will admit that I had to use a Game Shark to get the IA license in the original GT).

Races come in five different categories: the GT League, Special races (including events such as Muscle Car tournaments, Tuned Car races and all the way up to a GT 500 5-race tournament), Rally events, the time-killing Endurance races, and the new Dealer races (available only to the manufacturer who provides your vehicle. For example, Vipers can only take part on Dodge races.)

I will admit as far as the graphics are concerned, it took me a while to get to them. Considering that I am now spoiled by the immense luster that is Sega Dreamcast, it took me a while to get back to the low-res, blocky graphics that PlayStation is known for. But then I realized, this is Gran Turismo we are talking about, and for the PlayStation, it looks just as good as it did when I played it last year. And the game still runs at the same brisk pace that I remember so well.

In addition, the soundtrack is very impressive, including tracks from Garbage, Rob Zombie, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Cardigans. But still, at times during an endurance race (which can take upwards of 2 hours) I don’t feel like hearing the same tune over and over again (which I remedied by playing some MP3s from my computer while racing.)

And once again, it is a pure joy to upgrade your cars and test them out on the tracks, trying to see if you can beat your best time. However, that is one critical flaw that needs to be mentioned.

GT2 doesn’t save your record times!

Even with all the races I have taken part in, the overall record times are still blank. It will save the top speed on the machine tests and all the courses won, but not the time. How could this mistake be overlooked?

Another factor that can really hurt is that there is no way to win 100 percent of the game. According to another review source, the highest percentage you can get is 98.6 percent. It is believed that the missing 1.4 percent might be drag races, and it’s a shame to see no strip racing to support dragsters.

If it weren’t for these two critical flaws, then this would be a perfect 5 GiN Gem game. But since these errors ruin perfection, it will have to deal with 4 1/2 Gems. Even with this rating, I am much happier taking part in GT races than those fragile CART racers or that boring "run around the oval" NASCAR crap anyday!

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