Gran Turismo, PlayStation has been in Pole Position for 25 years

Gran Turismo, PlayStation has been in Pole Position for 25 years

Gran Turismo

Everyone with a few years behind them owes something to Gran Turismo. Look at me, doomed to remember everything about the first night with the Polyphony Digital game, and nothing about my first kiss: when did it happen and with whom? But nothing escapes me of my history with Gran Turismo, except the exact day the disc ended up in the PlayStation. Indeed, it was a night and it was also freezing cold.

PlayStation Generation

Gran Turismo: images you can hear ... And I was you, you were me, we were all us, we fans of video games more and more numerous thanks to the success of PlayStation; whipped into the imagination by new heroes and new worlds, projected into the fluorescent and acid future of the nineties at the tip of that gray joypad, as alien as it is reassuring. Even though we've had different experiences, in different places and at different ages, we all remember the PlayStation days the same way. The one with the Sony console was truly a unique collective experience of its kind, capable of uniting very different characters, united under this one great passion made suddenly democratic by an increasingly rampant piracy. In front of the stall with the mastered games you saw everything and you met all kinds of humanity, people who dragged themselves with Alice in Chains in their ears and survived the murderous minutes of Music For The Jilted Generation by the Prodigy, nerds and protonerd, fathers and grandparents.

A garage in your pocket

Gran Turismo: one of the most iconic cars of early GTs, namely the affordable Honda Prelude used for very few credits. Everyone, but not me. I exploited piracy and even a lot in certain moments of my career as a gamer, but I never loved street copying because it always seemed demeaning to me, "I'm a better gamer than that!", I said to myself. When I had to use the parallel market, I did it looking for real professionals, people who could give you a copy of the most anticipated game a few hours after it arrived in Japanese stores, and that's how I got my hands on Gran Turismo shortly after Christmas, or less than a week after its official debut and five months before the official version for the West. And that still hot burner disc remained in the bag for a long time, accompanying me the whole day and then for the whole evening, ended up in a suburban pub. At the last possible pint there were two of us left: me and this long-lost passenger friend. I have Gran Turismo here, you know I guess, would you like to come and try it?

Images in motion

Gran Turismo: part of one of the first advertisements reserved for the game that appeared in international magazines Up to at that time, Gran Turismo had been predominantly a handful of images printed on the pages of specialized magazines. In 1997, Internet for everyone was still a slogan, websites were mainly composed of text and you could not connect the modem to watch a live, or point the browser on Youtube which would be born only eight years later. So you had to trust the information that arrived on newsstands, hoping that the accompanying photos were similar to the final product. "Would Gran Turismo live up to expectations?", We asked ourselves as we closed the door of the console. "Let's see!", Followed by the tough clanck of the Power button.

Gran Turismo: The third game was the first exclusively on PlayStation 2. A few years ago, speaking of mobile phones, I said during a live on Twitch a rather obvious thing, as well as easily verifiable with a wikipedia tour or even just through the image search on Google: iPhone had revolutionized the world of mobile phones, which before its advent had a completely different form. Open up heaven, especially the younger ones, the standard bearers of their Android devices went crazy telling me about them all. But that was how it was, before the iPhone, professional mobile phones were a nightmare to use, and normal ones had shapes that suddenly aged, next to the all-touch multi-touch screen of the Apple "phone". I'll tell you this because the same thing happens with Gran Turismo, and if you try to reiterate its historical weight, it is flooded with distorted versions of what really happened.

The true story

Gran Tourism: Kazunori Yamauchi during the 25 Hours of Thunderhill in California, where he participated as a pilot. Long story short, there was nothing like Gran Turismo before Gran Turismo, and that Real Driving Simulator shot under the title was high-sounding but still justified. In the mid-90s the racing game genre was experiencing a moment of flat calm: on consoles there were no simulations of any kind, they were all arcade, and on PC the simulators of Papyrus Design dominated the scene (his one of the best driving games of all time, 1998 Grand Prix Legends) and the equally meticulous Formula 1 of British genius Geoff Crammond. In 1997 there were no middle ground, even less vaguely convincing: either you laughed in perennial derapada between year-end whistles, or you inevitably had to give extreme realism a chance - eye: the ridiculous one possible twenty-five years ago - mounted on a " spectacular "3D graphics at 20 frames per second and maybe even less.

Unforgettable Presentations

Gran Turismo: GT 7 promises to be the best game in the series, will it succeed? When the PlayStation lens adjusted the snort with its usual friendly hum, grabbing the ones and zeros needed to start the engines, we were silent, in the dark. A few seconds of waiting and ... you all know it, right? Gran Turismo begins with trees that sway in the wind in the night, the asphalt that flows slowly under the camera, overlapping a sparrow leans on a traffic light and the traffic light turns on; the camera throws an eye on the track, then resumes a garage to return immediately to the asphalt, this time flying over a starting grid and while the images alternate, faster and faster chasing the accelerating music, the Sony Computer Entertainment logo appears and all car brands in the game start falling from above. The Real Driving Simulator, Gran Turismo and boom: the music stops and explodes in a Honda NSX engine, now it's all game, no CG and no more doubts. Gran Turismo was a reality and we did not leave the TV before dawn, one race each, one driver's license each, with only one rule: see all the replays.

A sudden masterpiece

Gran Turismo: Tourist Trophy was a sort of spin-off dedicated to the world of two wheels. An interesting experiment that never had a sequel. The presentation of Gran Turismo, which we stubbornly wanted to retrace from start to finish, was already enough to certify the beginning of a new videogame era. Never had such an opening been seen in a racing game, and never had there been cars capable of behaving so realistically on the track, even when driving but especially in replays. How far ahead was Gran Turismo? Even today, after twenty-five years, the physical model that dominates the landing of a car after a jump is better than many recent and very recent games; the weight with which they face the curbs, lean on their suspensions in the hardest exits, represented the first and impressive cries of photorealism. Another example? Polyphony Digital is the undisputed master of lighting and Gran Turismo's technical dominance in this field has lasted uninterrupted almost forever. Without forgetting the contents offered, and from this point of view the advent of Gran Turismo was like turning up the volume from one to ten, so "suddenly and without sense".

An arcade like test

Gran Turismo: a very young Kazunori Yamauchi at the beginning of his career. A quantum leap compared to what is offered by the competition made possible by five very long years of development, times more unique than rare in those times and a luxury still today, in addition to a pharaonic budget capable of annihilating every attempt to do better and Moreover. Key element in the success of the project is the twenty-seven-year-old Kazunori Yamauchi, a burning passion for engines and several ideas for the games that should have accompanied PlayStation in the shops. Polyphony Digital thus begins a research and development path that materializes with the launch of the first Sony console with Motor Toon Grand Prix, a light-hearted arcade racing game that will be used above all to test the technology behind Gran Turismo, already in development at that time. br>

The first inimitable GT

Gran Turismo: Kazunori Yamauchi during the development of the fourth GT. Like the first Gran Turismo, however, there have not been any more. Admit it too: the second was practically identical but with more stuff, the third also but was lucky enough to take advantage of the nextgen effect since it was the first on PlayStation 2. With Gran Turismo 4 instead begins a peculiar transformation process that will reduce Gran Turismo in a sort of chrysalis. New and more complex simulators begin to appear on the market, direct competition makes increasingly tight and Gran Turismo remains immobile, appearing more and more imbolsito with each subsequent release. What we did not know, and that many still do not understand, is that Yamauchi and his team were working not so much to grow the Gran Turismo video game, but to build the Gran Turismo institution, a strategy that also led to several FIA awards and competitive structures such as the GT Academy. No other video game can boast such an organization, such close links with the reference sport.

Works of art on wheels

Gran Turismo: the GT Academy has changed the world of racing forever. racing game and raising Gran Turismo far beyond just video games. We all would have liked to see the series grow also from a videogame point of view, and in some ways this assonance with the world of motoring has both helped and damaged the Gran Turismo videogame. The damages, always so limited in the Polyphony series, are one of the elements that most distinguish this mutual respect because the car must always be respected as a work of art. Not having graphically more realistic damage is a deliberate choice, certainly also of convenience, but which makes sense in Kazunori Yamauchi's vision. Furthermore, this allows you to focus the experience on the sportiest part of a race, which is the concept on which Gran Turismo Sport is based.

A courageous comeback

Gran Turismo: GT Sport is one of the best games in the series, albeit lacking much of what makes a racing game a true Gran Turismo. Gran Turismo Sport was a turning point for the series, it is to all intents and purposes the chapter of the awakening where various gameplay innovations are introduced, the driving system has been updated and the full recognition of the motoring world is finally achieved. Gran Turismo is officially part. The problem with Gran Turismo Sport is that it's not a classic Gran Turismo, at least initially it's all about online competition, cutting out those who want a more relaxed experience. And in part this also explains why there is so much desire for Gran Turismo 7, which will be the first to mount the new driving systems on the classic structure and will do so almost ten years after Gran Turismo 6, the last done in this way and definitely the least successful.

All GTs in one

Gran Turismo: the seventh Gran Turismo will be released on old and new generation on March 4th. Gran Turismo 7 is a particularly interesting chapter because it promises to combine the many steps forward made in these twenty-five years of history, but often only appeared in a specific game and in more or less partial form, as it was for atmospheric phenomena and for VR (it would really be a wasted opportunity not to 100% support the next viewer). Furthermore, within GT7 there will be the entire GT Sport regulation which thus becomes what it has always had to be: one of the many modes of the perfect Gran Turismo that until a year ago we could only imagine. For the history, for the historical appeals and for the commitment they seem to have put into it, it should therefore come as no surprise that public attention has been at the highest level for several years now.

Gran Turismo forever

Gran Turismo: ready to hit the track again? And the talk about the driving model that can and must improve but not even upset itself is worth little. There is nothing more sterile and useless than asking the Polyphony game to become rFactor, iRacing or Assetto Corse because it doesn't need it and it doesn't interest it. Gran Turismo wants to continue to be extremely accessible, in some ways more likely than really realistic, a product that ignites your passion if you don't have it, but that can also lead you into the world of professionalism as long as you have the skills. It is obvious that this strength, this transversality cannot be built in a day, nor is it enough to create a good game.

You need something more, that passion that makes you stay in the breach even if you haven't really innovated for twenty years, waiting to find the right opportunity to get back on the scene with the definitive chapter that many believe, or they just hope, it will materialize with Gran Turismo 7.

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