A fairly big emphasis has been placed on the multiplayer aspect, which is good, as the single-player doesn't quite feel like the "fully-specced Gran Turismo" that producer Kazunori Yamauchi promised us. There's no infrastructure mode, but Ad-Hoc mode is in and plays well. There are even specific modes to balance out mismatched performance between your car and your mates'.
Above: One of these compensations is a head start for the slowpoke
Multiplay features standard races and a party mode to enjoy. The latter features a flashing message that announces 'Jackpot Race' halfway through, picking a player at random. If he or she wins, they get a prize money multiplier. We'll admit, we like it more because it kept choosing us. Woot!
You can also trade and share your cars with your friends, so your garage will soon fill up (unless your mates are buying the same cars as you). The multiplayer mode caters for four players, with any unused slots available for AI cars. It's an acceptable number, but this is where we really start to query that 'fully specced Gran Turismo'.
But I don't want to cut down
You see, it's not just multiplayer. There are only four cars on the track at any point in the game. Let's be honest, that's the bare minimum any circuit racer can get away with. As a result, the races feel quite lonely.
This is amplified by the surprisingly easy difficulty level in the single-player mode. Challenge mode is as hard as nails, sure, but the meat of the game is too easy to chew, if you catch our drift.A and S grade races are OK, but none of it is very taxingonce you can afford adecent car (which is soon, as the game is liberal with its credits).
That's not all that's wrong. Our biggest concern is the wildy varying degrees of quality throughout the game. It's quite remarkable how one moment you can be slack-jawed as you watch your PSP perform AAA-grade miracles. It's impossibly smooth, the cars look fantastic and they're kicking up dust as you slidewith those showcase physics into a breathtaking view of the road ahead. For a second, it's more like a miniature PS3 than a PSP, which is as remarkable as it sounds.
A single race later and you're looking at a scene that's practically devoid of detail, with low-res trees around a grey track that's full of jagged polygons and hairline glimpses of white between the polygons that make up the scenery. You feel like you're doing 15mph, you're stuck inC class on this track and your fingers are hurting from the PSP's wholly non-ergonomic design. That's hard to recommend.
Above: Sure, it's 'only' PSP, butthe trackscan look decidedly flaky
Then there's the missing special effects that used to be trademarks of the series, like the OTT heat haze or the strip lightsreflecting off your car's bodywork through the tunnel in Trial Mountain. There's even a most unwelcome returnfor Sega Saturn-style chequerboard transparency effects on the ghost car. For a series that prides itself on visual quality, it's a bit of a comedown:
Above: After five years of delay, we expected a bit better than this
If only the quality control had been tighter, both in the graphics and the content of the game itself, this would have been utterly essential. There is so much to play with here, it's unreal – and all coming in at a mere 1GB too. But why cram it all into that small space when selective cherry-picking would have been more convincing?
In all honesty, Polyphony could have presented us with that gorgeous Seattle circuit, the Castrol-liveried Honda NSX and a ghost mode and we would have happily paid for the pleasure. So the fact it's got 799 more cars and 44 more tracks makes criticism hard to justify. Gift horses and all that.
OK... sois itrubbish then?
Thankfully, no. Once the game gets into its stride, the Gran Turismo we once knew and loved shines through. The games have always had their dull moments and the trick is in finding the setup that's right for you.
You may feel disappointed when you first start to play because it does feel cut down and it does look a bit rough and it is very slow. But perseverein your search for that classic Polyphony magic and it does come in time. And when it does, you'll be able to forgive almost everything else. If only for those fleeting moments where it's right up there with the best things you've ever seen.
TOCA Race Driver 2 (opens in new tab)?
No. Amazingly, this PSP launch game is superior in almost every respect. It may lack the 60fps screen update for the most-part, but it features full, rip-the-entire-corner-off-the-car realistic damage, more vehicle types, 36 similarly-rendered tracks and a grid of 21 detailed cars, not to mention a proper career mode with characterised rivals that you actually care about beating. GT is better at the core driving, mind.
Juiced 2: Hot Import Nights (opens in new tab)?
Yes. Juiced 2 is an excellent game with a great atmosphere and good car physics. However, the track design is way less interesting than GT's efforts and where GT gets more fun and more compelling as you play, Juiced 2 shoots its bolt too early and fades away after extended play. It works particularly well as a pick-up-and play handheld experience which is why we liked it so much, but GT's far classier.
? Yes. Ridge Racer is another racing franchise with its roots in the PSone era, but while the gloss on Namco's baby is consistently high, the racing is very one-note and, in terms of depth, Ridge is a puddle to GT's ocean. Still, the tracks are just as memorable and it's instantly gratifying.
Just for you, Metacritic!
Gran Turismo on PSP is not quite as slick as its PS2 or PS3 brothers and the lack of a career mode is surprising. It's clumsy at times and the quality varies immensely, but it's still a class act.