|Publisher||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Engine||Gran Turismo 4 Prologue|
|Aspect ratio||16:9 or 4:3|
|Release dates|| December 28, 2004|
February 22, 2005
March 9, 2005
|Input Methods||Gamepad, Steering Wheel|
Gran Turismo 4 (often abbrieviated as GT4) is a racing video game for Sony PlayStation 2 which is published by Polyphony Digital. It was released on December 28, 2004 in Japan and Hong Kong, February 22, 2005 in North America, and March 9, 2005 in Europe, and has since been re-issued under Sony's 'Greatest Hits' line. Gran Turismo 4 is one of only four titles for the PlayStation 2 that is capable of 1080i output, one of them being Tourist Trophy which was also created by Polyphony Digital.
GT4 was delayed for over a year by Polyphony Digital, and had its online mode removed (later added as a stand-alone online test version) during development. GT4 features over 700 cars from 80 manufacturers, from as early as the 1886 Daimler Motor Carriage and as far into the future as concepts for 2022. The game also features 51 tracks, many of which are new or modified versions of previous original courses, with some notable real-world additions, such as the Suzuka Circuit, or Le Mans Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Chinese, Japanese and Korean versions of the game were bundled with a 212-page driving guide and lessons on the physics of racing. A limited edition, Gran Turismo 4 Online, was released in Japan in the summer of 2006. A PSP enhanced port entitled Gran Turismo Mobile was originally planned, but was later dropped and replaced by a new project, Gran Turismo (PSP), which was released October 1, 2009.
A-Spec and B-Spec
Players now accumulate points by winning races in the normal first-person driving perspective, called A-Spec mode. Each race event can yield up to a maximum of 200 A-Spec Points. Generally, a win using a car with less of an advantage over the AI opponents is worth more points. Players can make their cars less effective by adding ballast weight or running the engine until it needs an oil change. Points can only be won once, so to win further points from a previously-won event, it must be re-won using a car with less of an advantage over the AI. There are also the 34 Driving Missions which can yield 250 points each. A-Spec points cannot be redeemed for anything in the game, and they can be thought of as a precursor to PlayStation trophies.
The new B-Spec mode puts players in the place of a racing crew chief: telling the driver how aggressively to drive, when to pass, and mandating pit stops (by monitoring tire wear, fuel level, and oil dirtying). The speed of the time in the race can be increased up to a factor of 3, allowing endurance races to be completed in less time than would take in A-Spec mode. This feature, however, must be turned on after every pit stop because it will reset to normal speed. The game manual says that the player may speed up B-Spec mode by up to 5x, but this is believed to be a typo.
B-Spec Points are given out for each race completed in B-Spec mode. This increases the skill level of the AI driver in the categories of vehicle skill, course skill, and battle skill. Players can thereby use B-Spec mode in harder races as the game progresses.
Another new addition to the game are the Driving Missions, which are similar in experience to the license tests, but award successful completion with 250 A-Spec points and 1000 or more credits. Each mission takes place with a given car on a given track or section of track, and a given set of opponents.
There are 4 sets of missions: The Pass, in which the driver must overtake an opponent within a certain distance; 3 Lap Battle, in which the driver must pass 5 opponents over the course of 3 laps; Slipstream Battle, in which the driver must overtake opponents by way of drafting; and 1 Lap Magic, in which the driver starts with a significant time penalty against much slower opponents and must overtake them all in the space of a single lap. Completing each set of missions earns the player a prize car. There are a total of 5 prize cars available to be won.
It supports 480p/480i display modes, as well as 1080i HD in the NTSC-U region only.
Despite the lack of online gameplay, GT4 does support use of the PlayStation 2 Network Adapter, which can be used to communicate with additional PS2s to create a multi-screen setup. In addition, the Network Adapter can be used to play games on a local subnet for up to six players, though player customized cars cannot be used in a LAN game.
Support for the Logitech Driving Force Pro and GT Force steering wheels is continued from Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Other "PC" steering wheels previously (and unofficially) supported in GT3 were explicitly disabled for GT4.
New support is given for USB storage and print devices used in Photo Mode.
The new Photo Mode is included in the game, which allows the player to control a virtual camera, taking pictures of their cars on the track or at specific locations, including the Grand Canyon. This game is able to produce a selection of screenshots with variable compression rate (Normal/Fine/SuperFine) and size (up to 1280x960 72dpi), and the user can choose to save or print to supported USB device.
GT4 continues in its predecessors' footsteps by offering an extremely large list of cars; the PAL version, for example, features 721 cars from 80 manufacturers. There are differences in the car lists between the different GT4 regional versions, and some cars have different names, e.g. the Japanese Toyota Vitz is known as the Toyota Yaris in places such as Europe and Puerto Rico; and a more commonly known 'name change' is the Opel Speedster, which is known as the Vauxhall VX220, although the European version of the game features both variations of the car. Some of the cars are multiple variations on a single base model; there are 20 different Subaru Imprezas, 25 Mitsubishi Lancers, and 48 Nissan Skylines, including the Nissan GT-R Concept (TMC'01) '01, thus becoming the first video game ever to feature it. It is obtained by acquiring the International "A" license. One vehicle, another Skyline, is in pace car form, in the "Guide Lap" license tests. It is also a prize car.
Car prices range from about 2500 credits for basic 1980s Japanese used cars up to 4,500,000 credits for the top end (mostly Le Mans) race cars. Some special prize-only cars are not visible in the vehicle showrooms, and a few do not have corresponding dealerships, and thus are unmodifiable, for example, the Formula Gran Turismo.
GT4 is responsible for a few vehicle firsts in the Gran Turismo series. It is the first to feature pickup trucks, such as the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning '03, Toyota Tacoma X-Runner '04, and Dodge Ram 1500 LARAMIE Hemi Quad Cab '04. It is the first game in the series to feature the DMC De Lorean S2 '04, using the stage II spec engine (developed in 2004, hence the 2004 designation). It is also the first in the series to feature a diesel powered car, the BMW 120d '04. A special edition of GT4 featuring the 120d (and the rest of the 1 Series line), and three tracks were provided to BMW customers who purchased their 1 Series automobile before the release of GT4. While Gran Turismo 2 did have a one-off F1 engine version of the Renault Espace F1, GT4 was the first of the series to feature a production minivan, the Honda Odyssey '03 (JDM version). A first generation Mitsubishi PAJERO Rally Raid Car '85, a winner of the 1985 rally, makes an appearance as the first SUV in racing trim; the first SUV to appear in the GT series was the Subaru Forester S/tb '97 in GT2.
The game includes some prize cars of historical interest. One of those is a vehicle from as far back as 1886 at the dawn of the automobile. These older cars require the user to purchase turbo kits and nitrous oxide in order to remain competitive with newer machinery (for example, Daimler Motor Carriage has 1 horsepower in stock form, whereas a Castrol Tom's Supra has 526 horsepower). Even some modern cars with complex body shapes cannot be raced against opponents.
Comedian Jay Leno, an avid car collector, is listed in the game as a manufacturer; one of his custom cars, the Blastolene Special or "Tank Car", is included in the game as a prize car, available after beating missions 11-20. The 2022 Nike One has Morse code on the right hand side of the car. When reversed, this reads "www.phil-frank.com", the artist commissioned to design this car for GT4, There is also some Morse code visible on the inside of all four tires, but is not decipherable. GT4 also provides special, used 'Black' Le Mans race cars that can be bought within days 694-700. Cars like the Toyota GT-One Race Car (TS020) '99 and the Nissan R92CP '92 are part of this special group. They are not as powerful as the standard racing versions and, in rare cases, the black color schemes can appear in arcade mode.
GT4 retains all the familiar tuning parameters from the previous games in the series, but also allows weight to be added to the car. This can be positioned to affect handling or used as a form of handicapping. Another new vehicle tuning addition is nitrous oxide injection, which boosted their car when triggering it. Cars now contain over 4000 polygons.
Such is the quality of car modelling on Gran Turismo 4, many of the models were retained and used again on Gran Turismo 5 and 6 as standard/simple cars.
The game features 51 tracks, many of which are new or modified versions of old Gran Turismo favorites. In Arcade mode, these tracks are divided into four categories: Original Courses, World Courses, City Courses, and Dirt & Snow Courses. Original Courses, a unique track from GT and it has a realistic features. World Courses are real-life tracks. Notable real-world track inclusions are the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Suzuka Circuit, and Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans). City Courses run on versions of various cities around the world. For example, the New York City Track and Hong Kong tracks run along real-life roads; though some are pedestrianized walkways and pathways. Dirt & Snow tracks are generally more challenging than regular courses, since the road isn't made of tarmac. Dirt & Snow tracks are based around real life locations, such as the Grand Canyon course, which is set at the famous American wonder of nature. There is also a Chamonix track, based on the real life track in the Alps.
Qualification as a 'Simulator'
The Gran Turismo series has been modeled on a realistic racing experience. 500 to 700 parameters define the driving characteristics of the car physics model. According to the developers, a professional driver was invited to set times using the same car on the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit, and the GT4 lap times were within 2% of the real-life equivalent.
Jeremy Clarkson, host of the Top Gear television program, performed a head-to-head test of real life versus GT4 on an episode of the program. He ran Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in real life in a Honda NSX for a lap time of 1:57. His GT4 lap time was 1:41:148.
Clarkson also had to be shown by a race driving instructor where the line was between the game and reality. He pointed out that adjusting one's braking mid-turn in a real car could cause loss of control, and also mentioned that in the game, he is compelled to take bigger risks than he would in real life, and that in the game, the car did not suffer from brake fade.
Despite the apparent discrepancies, in a column for The Sunday Times, Clarkson had this to say about GT4:
- "I called Sony and asked them to send me a game chip already loaded with the 700 computer cars. And I am in a position to test out its claims because, unlike most people, I really have driven almost all of them in real life. There are mistakes. The BMW M3 CSL, for instance, brakes much better on the road than it does on the screen. And there’s no way a Peugeot 106 could outdrag a Fiat Punto HGT Abarth '00 off the line. But other than this, I’m struggling: they’ve even managed to accurately reflect the differences between a Mercedes SL 600 and the Mercedes SL 55, which is hard enough to do in real life. There’s more, too. If you take a banked curve in the Bentley Le Mans car flat out, you’ll be fine. If you back off, even a little bit, you lose the aerodynamic grip and end up spinning. That’s how it is. This game would only be more real if a big spike shot out of the screen and skewered your head every time you crashed. In fact that’s the only real drawback: that you can hit the barriers hard without ever damaging you or your car. Maybe they’re saving that for GT5. Perhaps it’ll be called Death or Glory."
Karl Brauer of edmunds.com performed a similar test, also at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in which he and two others - professional race driver AJ Allmendinger, and IGN "gaming editor extraordinaire" Justin Kaehler - set times in GT4 and real life in a variety of cars. Brauer's best time in a Ford GT in the game was 1:38, and his best time on the real track was 1:52. In the four vehicles the trio tested, none was able to duplicate his game times on the real track. Brauer suggested the main differences between the game and reality:
- "Which brings up the single biggest difference between reality and virtual reality — consequences. A mistake on Gran Turismo 4 costs me nothing more than a bad lap time. A mistake with a real exotic car on a real racetrack is... a bit more costly. The other major difference between virtual racing and the real thing is feedback from the car — or an almost total lack thereof. Yes, the force feedback steering wheel does its best to let you know when you're veering off the track, or sliding the rear end, but none of this comes close to the kind of information you get while driving a real vehicle. And in a car like the Ford GT, that's vital information."
Gran Turismo 4 features a much larger selection of race background music than its predecessors, and has two customizable playlists for races and slideshow mode. Unusually, the PAL version has significantly more songs to choose from than the NTSC-U version, including all 65 from the latter, as well as 32 extra tracks for the European market. Gran Turismo 4 is also the first game in the series to feature classical music.
- Reviewers criticize the game for its continued lack of rendered damage. Instead of damage, the cars simply bounce off the walls or each other.
- Reviewers complained of the continued ability to take unrealistic short cuts, such as the ones on Fuji Speedway 90's, Driving Park Beginner Course and Circuit de la Sarthe I and II, where the driver can cut right across the chicane, allowing a player to win by cheating. They also complain that the steering is unrealistic and the cars do not have enough grip.
- The game has also been criticized for lack of online play which had been promised during early development, but was announced as being removed at the time of release.
- The game lacks the established high-performance automotive brands of Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Porsche, though some Porsche-derived models are included by way of Ruf Automobile.
- Many reviewers expressed disappointment in the game's AI system, noting that "virtual racers will follow their (driving) line with little concern for where the human driver is at any one time." This is more evident during rally races and missions in which a 5 second speed penalty is given for hitting the other cars or the barriers, regardless of who initiated the contact.
- Some critics found B-Spec mode to offer little to the overall experience.
- This game has also been criticized for the high percentage of disc read errors. It is believed that many of the older PS2s have problems, as well as early slim models. It is primarily due to improper laser functioning in the PS2, and cleaning the inside of the PS2 can fix most of these errors.
By April 30, 2008, Gran Turismo 4 had shipped 1.24 million copies in Japan, 2.9 million in North America, 5.77 million in Europe, and 150,000 in Asia for a total of 10.06 million copies. As of June 2008, Gran Turismo 4 has shipped 1.25 million copies in Japan, 2.93 million in North America, 5.85 million in Europe, 70,000 in Southeast Asia, and 80,000 in Korea.
IGN rated the game a 9.5/10.
- E3 2003 Game Critics Awards: Best Racing Game
- Included on Game Informer's "Top 50 Games of 2005" list
- The manufacturer Vemac was originally planned to be in the game. This is supported by an unused string of text in the game data.
- The Toyota ESSO ULTRAFLO Supra (JGTC) '01 is available on the NTSC-J and PAL versions of the game, but is absent in the NTSC U/C version. This is because of licensing issues surrounding the Esso brand, since it is known as Exxon in the US.
- The game used to have a cockpit view, but it was scrapped. However, it is still available with Gameshark.
- This is the last game of the Gran Turismo series in which the player can acquire special colored variants of some cars available in the game. This is due to the possibility to paint the car, introduced in Gran Turismo 5.
- It is the last main game of the Gran Turismo series to have major regional differences.
- This includes different licence test/driving mission timings. The most infamous of these is the Mercedes-Benz driving mission in which NTSC-U players have 30 seconds added onto the handicap and the first car to finish is around 5 seconds faster compared to the PAL and NTSC-J versions.
- Gran Turismo 4 is the first game of the series in which the units of measurement can be set by the player. Previous titles had units determined by the game region, which ended up with NTSC-U countries outside the US having to use imperial units, and UK PAL users having to use km/h for speed. Also, other commonly used automotive units such as kilowatts for engine power and newton-metres for torque are available for the first time.
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