|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Polyphony Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 1, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Gran Turismo for the PSP has been a long time coming. It was first announced way back in 2004 alongside the announcement of the PSP hardware. Five years later, the game is finally being released after long delays and rumored cancellations. While the game was definitely anticipated, Gran Turismo fans couldn't help but wonder if a portable game could manage to include all the features for which the Gran Turismo series has been so renowned. Fortunately, Gran Turismo on the PSP nails pretty much every aspect of its console predecessors. Whether you like the series for its hardcore mechanics, massive garages, or spectacular visuals, Gran Turismo on the PSP delivers. And if you are a fan of the series, you will not be disappointed.
Like previous entries in the series, Gran Turismo is very focused on the single-player experience. However, instead of having a limited amount of tracks and cars available depending on your license class, Gran Turismo gives you access to all of the game's tracks right from the start. The game's structure is very free-form and conducive to the handheld platform. All of the tracks are available immediately at a D-class level, and you'll have to earn better rankings for each track to progress though the mode. Of course, the difficulty varies from track to track, as obtaining an A license is fairly easy on the Twin Ring Super Speedway, but it can be maddeningly difficult on the curvaceous Motorland Driving Park. The track-based license system gives Gran Turismo plenty of replay value, and it also helps determine what kind of cars you want to add to your collection. You can choose to focus on cars that have heavy drift capability if you want to earn better license rankings on drift-intensive courses, or you can focus on speed-performance cars if you are working on your speed runs.
The way that Gran Turismo on the PSP handles the garage system is quite different from what we've seen in the past. Instead of having a full list of dealerships available from the start (with cars unlocked according to class), Gran Turismo only offers four dealerships to choose from per racing day. These dealerships seem to be random, but once you enter one, all of the cars are unlocked, and you can purchase whatever you want, no matter what your license status might be on any individual track. This system seems like a pain at first (it took me forever to get to the VW dealership), but it does keep you racing, and I found myself playing "just one more race" so I could see what new dealerships would open up after the next racing day.
Even though you might check the dealerships frequently, you may not be able to build the garage of your dreams as fast as you might like. Fortunately, the game has a robust swap system that allows you to switch cars with other players over an ad-hoc connection. This is especially useful, as some cars are only available by trade. If you are looking to complete your garage to 100%, then trading is a must. In addition to the trading ability, you can also challenge nearby friends to ad-hoc races. While the multiplayer aspect of Gran Turismo pales in comparison to what we are expecting from Gran Turismo 5, the single-player aspect is so strong that I can't really say the game feels incomplete without it.
One thing that has been slightly altered for Gran Turismo on the PSP is the control. Now before you start getting worried, this change is only slight, and it actually suits the handheld platform better. Although the game retains the Gran Turismo's signature simulation-style controls, you will notice that the controls are a little bit more forgiving this time. Braking and speeding times have increased, and drifts are much easier to trigger. You'll also notice that the steering is a little more forgiving, which makes those hairpin turns a little less daunting. However, even though there is a lot more wiggle room, don't think you can take any turns at 70 MPH. The game stays very true to its simulation roots, and if you try anything crazy, you will lose control or spin out. The subtle adjustments really just streamline the experience for the handheld platform, and they make up for the fact that the PSP's analog nub is not as accurate as a regular PS3/PS2 analog stick.