As acclaimed as the Gran Turismo games have been over the years, something's been missing. The series has tried to cater to everyone from casual car enthusiasts to obsessive car modders, but motorcycle aficionados have been left out in the cold.
No longer. Due in April, Tourist Trophy: The Real Riding Simulator promises to finally bring GT's attention to detail and physics to the nuanced sport of high-speed motorbike racing. Instead of worrying about keeping all four wheels on the road, players now have to learn to lean into turns and pull off wheelies without skidding face-first across the asphalt. It's simple enough to be entertaining, but predictably appears realistic enough to satisfy dedicated gearheads.
Like the GT games, Tourist Trophy lets players race an impressive array of real-life rides, more than 80 in all. Manufacturers including Kawasaki, Triumph, Honda and Ducati (Harley didn't want in, sadly) are represented, and the bikes themselves run the gamut from classic cafe racers to cutting-edge sport bikes. Unlike in GT, however, players won't be able to modify these rides much; in a rare attempt to keep things simple and appeal to an audience not obsessed with gear ratios, the designers at Polyphony Digital replaced the tinkering options with customizable riders. There's a broad array of licensed helmets, boots and other racing gear to choose from, and players will be also able to pick from three different riding styles that affect turning and control, but new engine parts and shocks are right out.
In another plus for the casual crowd, the controls on the preview version we played felt natural and responsive. It's still easy to crash or overturn your bike if you're not careful (in sequences that are kept mercifully short, which is almost surprising given the popularity of Burnout -style crash porn), but leaning into turns is something that should come naturally to most players.
Already released in Japan, Tourist Trophy looks impressive. The riders animate realistically, and there's an over-the-handlebars camera mode that lets you get a close-up look at your bike's working gauges. Sometimes, particularly during replays (which let players take snapshots of their bikes, by the way), the game almost looks like the real thing, which is no mean feat for the aging PS2 hardware.