Gran Turismo and its 25 years of driving

Gran Turismo and its 25 years of driving

It seems incredible but twenty-five years have passed since the first appearance of Gran Turismo, a title that changed the concept of racing forever. After six official chapters and some spin-offs and, with the arrival of Gran Turismo 7, we retrace together the story of a saga that in recent years has kept us company for many hours, studded with countless achievements, but also with sensational thuds.

It all begins with the first Gran Turismo, a real revelation. Created as a Sony exclusive by Polys Entertainment, what would later become Polyphony Digital, Gran Turismo presented itself as a revolutionary game from many points of view, innovations due to Kazunori Yamauchi, the game's historic producer.

Became president of Polyphony, after creating his first video game, Motor Toon Grand Prix, Yamauchi followed the dream of creating the best car game in history, becoming an important figure in the automotive industry worldwide and with a street dedicated to him in Ronda ( Spain) called "Paseo de Kazunori Yamauchi".

Watch on YouTube. As mentioned above, there were several innovations starting with the introduction of a real career called "Gran Turismo Mode" which supports the classic arcade mode: in addition to the classic races and championships, you had the opportunity to experience a special relationship with their own cars but also the structure was not far behind, with the forced acquisition of driving licenses to be able to access the most prestigious events.

Even graphically it was a step above the competitors, with many elements on the screen and excellent effects, but the cars were the real stars of the game: made with 300 - 500 polygons, they boasted an incredible detail even in the use of materials that, finally, made the paint metallic and reflective, giving an extra touch of realism. Realism, even in the gameplay, which was perceived thanks to the total use of the Dualshock: so goodbye to the directional buttons and control used to the analog stick that allowed greater steering precision, with vibration optimized properly. All this was the turning point for driving games which, from this point on, were never the same.

The beginning of a troubled race. Two years after Gran Turismo 2, with two special features already starting from the packaging: the first, that there were two CDs, one red entirely dedicated to Arcade mode and one blue entirely dedicated to "Gran Turismo" mode. The other peculiarity is that the discs themselves smelled of worn tires - or so it said. This subdivision allowed to considerably increase everything that was present in the first chapter, starting with the cars, number of tracks, events and all the surroundings such as music and above all graphic quality.

Among the most significant innovations there is the introduction of off-road racing and some real circuits such as Laguna Seca. It was also introduced the possibility of using one's cars in the garage in arcade mode in order to challenge or exchange them with a friend. Even the endurance races were significantly increased both in number and in duration, even running for more than two hours straight and without the possibility of saving in races in progress.Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo 2 are, together with Final Fantasy VII, the best-selling video games for PSX / PS-One, still very popular today.

State-of-the-art graphics for the time. We are at the first generational leap for this saga and Gran Turismo 3 lands on PlayStation 2 in 2001 with the subtitle "A-Spec". But have you ever wondered why A-Spec? Yamauchi had in mind to bring to the shops a GT split in two, one called the A-Spec and the other, called B-Spec. This should have been a sort of strategic Gran Turismo, aimed at the management from the pits. It never saw the light, until the fourth chapter at least.

But before GT3, the works focused on another game, Gran Turismo 2000: the latter was supposed to be the spearhead in the launch of the new console but yes revealed a real hole in the water, presenting characteristics far below expectations. Work however served to better study the new hardware and thus churn out the first chapter of the new generation. In terms of the cars, it dropped dramatically to about 150 but excellently made on the polygonal plane, counting on about 5000 polygons.

Even in terms of gameplay, things changed, with cars much more reactive and difficult to control, especially once exceed certain power thresholds. The modalities, also refined here, see a more substantial and revised Rally Mode, new licenses and many events available. Gran Turismo 3 is one of the most controversial titles in the saga and a symptom that something was starting to creak.

With the entry of a competitor like Forza Motorsport on the scene, it starts to feel breathless and Polyphony will work hard to create probably the best chapter of the saga. But before that, the Gran Turismo Concept, an extension of GT3 in three versions, will come out of the yard: 2001 Tokyo, 2002 Tokyo-Seoul and 2002 Tokyo-Geneva. The game, launched in 2002, was sold all over the world, except in the US, and mainly contained concept cars present at various shows, such as the prototype of the Nissan GTR, and other cars not included in the main chapter.

Despite everything, Gran Turismo 3 was an incredible success. In 2003 the crunches really begin to manifest themselves, with Polyphony Digital suddenly deciding to postpone the release of Gran Turismo 4, replacing it with a sop called Gran Turismo 4 Prologue: with 64 cars it is a multiplayer mode via Lan, this represents an anticipation than what we would have seen in 2005.

Gran Turismo 4 is finally released, probably the best chapter of the saga, with everything a motor lover could ask for. The practice of the game does not change, but you are enveloped by the excellent quality achieved in every detail, from the cars, to the tracks and all the graphics, perhaps the best view on PS2. As already mentioned, the B-Spec Mode enters the scene where we take on the role of a manager, in which we will give orders to the driver, managing his pace during the race, checking the fuel values ​​and tire consumption, also indicating the moment ideal for returning to the pits.

Entrance to the pits that present a pleasant novelty such as the mechanics present in the tire changes and refueling with stops transformed from passive to active, being able to manage a greater number of parameters, influencing the conduct competition. Many innovations in terms of content with about 700 cars present and the inclusion of many real circuits such as the Nürburgring Nordschleife and the Circut de La Sarthe where the 24 Hours of Le Mans is held. These tracks will be the protagonists of the longest endurance races, lasting 24 hours straight, where the "B-spec" mode becomes essential to complete them.

For the record, we must also report Gran Turismo Online, released in 2006 only in Japan and South Korea, to begin testing the potential of multiplayer that will be introduced with the fifth chapter.

A technical masterpiece on PlayStation 2. Also in 2006, comes the taste of the new generation with Gran Turismo HD Concept, a sort of small demo able to show the potential of the new technical sector. This is where the Ferrari entrance is located. Everyone was waiting for the upcoming announcement of the new Gran Turismo 5 on PlayStation 3, but something went wrong. Two years later, another postponement but mitigated by Gran turismo 5 Prologue, a full-bodied anticipation of what we would have seen in the full game. Online and 1080p at 60 frames per second entered the scene, but they weren't enough to fill the desire to get hold of the new chapter. Years passed, meanwhile two Forza Motorsports and even a Gran Turismo for PSP came out, with fans starting to wonder if it was still worth the wait. After a further postponement, in 2010, the long-awaited Gran Turismo 5 was released: a disaster.

The most ambitious and expensive project of Yamahuchi & Co, finally saw the light but something went wrong: everything was based on compromise. Lots of cars - about 1000 - but only 200 built as the new generation claims, while the rest were simply transposed by Gran Turismo 4 with some minor improvements. The technical sector was of a high level, with excellent lighting effects, materials and textures, but it was noticeable on at least half of the contents; in fact many tracks had a poor rendering in graphic terms, and one could not fail to notice the excessive aliasing and tearing during the rain and around the cars, especially in the shadows.

Online worked quite well, but it lacked online leaderboards, matchmaking and some form of reward for winning races. Other negative aspects resided in the physics, which remained very permissive despite GT5 having simulation aims. Problems also in the balance of some elements, such as the price of the modifications which remained the same for any car, from the 500 to the Ferrari 599.

Mazda LM55 Vision Gran Turismo. But there are also positive aspects: Gran Turismo 5 was immense, with new licenses such as Nascar, Super GT, WRC, day / night cycle and variable weather. Gran Turismo 5 paid for the stormy development, with the feeling that the amount of content has not been refined, taking this saga to the lowest levels ever. Countless patches have even brought the title to version 2.0 but it was like building a skyscraper on the sand.

In 2013 comes Gran turismo 6, perhaps the "real" Gran Turismo 5. Basically it is the final evolution but with some interesting news starting from the completely revised physics, which now sees the behavior of suspensions, tires and, in general, the dynamics of the car, significantly improved, thus approaching a more accurate simulation. In fact, the different conditions of the asphalt are felt more vigorously and finally managing the car requires more attention. The improvements do not stop there, with the online component ready, more functional menus, many more Premium cars and a decisive graphic improvement of the Standard cars.

An important novelty is the link established between Polyphony Digital and famous manufacturers, such as Mercedes, Lexus, Nissan and many others, with the creation of special concept cars for GT6 called Vision. This last chapter, therefore, for better or for worse, is a true encyclopedia of the automobile, a love song for all lovers of engines and but from a purely Japanese point of view: an inordinate collection of cars and tracks and little it matters if the quality of this content fluctuates.

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As the wait for Gran Turismo 7 begins to be felt, something different arrives: Gran Turismo Sport, another milestone for Yamauchi, having entered into a very important collaboration with the FIA , organizing official e-sports tournaments. However, some perplexities remained at the launch, such as the number of cars and its too hybrid nature between single and multiplayer. After many updates GT Sport was able to rise again but now it is finally the turn of Gran Turismo 7.

A return to the origins, to that forgotten career with the transition to PlayStation 3 and never forgotten by the fans. Although cross-gen title gives a great glance and even more you can feel the love for the world of the car of Kazunori Yamauchi. Paradoxically, however, his authorial vision is also a brake on some of the choices that forbid the series to make a real evolutionary leap.

But we have reached the end of this long journey. Gran Turismo has certainly profoundly marked racing games with everything we see and play in this one derived from the dream of a man who, driven by his passion, has created something unique and so powerful as to interact with real manufacturers. Despite the missteps, there has always been a desire to roll up their sleeves, trying to improve their product. It will no longer be "the real driving simulator" but it remains a cornerstone of the industry.

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