Ah yes. Driving nirvana. As has happened with every release* of Gran Turismo 4, I’ve once again become a grumpy old hermit, huddled in darkness over the controller, stealing every possible moment to either “have one more race” or to grab “one more attempt for gold”.

Suffice to say, I’ve now completed all the main licence tests in what must have been a personal best overall timeframe (< 3 hours) and now many hours of building up credits to buy some decent machinery lay ahead. Either that or I could go “back to school” and shoot for getting straight golds in each licence test, picking up some decent prize cars along the way. Hmmm. decisions, decisions. Highlights so far are:

The new physics engine

Polyphony Digital have obviously pulled out all stops for this version. The cars move around the track in a much more realistic manner. This coupled with more life-like (read rougher/bumpier) tracks makes the whole thing alot more believable. The final IA licence takes the cake, flat out down the Mulsanne Straight of Le Mans, behind the wheel of a manic Nissan R92CP.

The cars

Thoroughly enjoyed the cars in all the licence tests, standouts were definitely the ones that used either the M5 (at Der Nurburgring), the Ford Focus RS, Audi A3 3.2 or VW Golf GTI.

The tracks

Where else can you lap the entire Nurburgring in anything from a Ford Model T up to a Sauber C9 Group C monster? This track alone makes GT4 worth buying. I haven’t spent too much time driving it yet, however from what I’ve seen so far - wow. The combination of blistering speed, blind corners and crests, the narrowness of the track and its bumpiness makes it incredibly technical and, well, hard. A mistake on the final corner can easily screw up your lap - a lap that takes anything between 6-10 minutes to make, depending on what car you choose.

Additional features

There’s a new “b-spec” mode in GT that apparently allows you to act more as the race manager, rather than the racer. Sounds good, although I haven’t even looked at it yet. Besides, I want to race, not watch someone else have all the fun. There’s also new photo mode that allows you to take screenshots from the replay theatre that can then be saved to a USB flash driver or printed out. Again I’m yet to try this out but will do so shortly, I’ll post some screenshots when I get around to it.

Back to the track…

I’m looking forward to seeing how I compare to others over at the official GT4 league. In the meantime, if you have a copy of GT4 - feel free to post your quickest Nurburgring times to the comments of this entry, I’ll be adding mine shortly.

*All bar GT3 A-Spec. I bought my original PS back on the day that GT was first released! I only recently (August 2004) bought a PS2 and managed to grab GT3 and the GT4 Prologue while I was at it.