The term “extended development time” is now synonymous with the Gran Turismo series, not perhaps the term Polyphony have fought for but certainly one they can’t avoid. If you want perfection you need to give it time and in game development circles there are very few developers who get all the time they need, but in the case of Gran Turismo PSP the extended time certainly gives the impression that Polyphony will have pulled out all of the stops.
Originally due for release in 2006 the development of GT PSP has been a somewhat bumpy journey, first announced on the release of the PSP in Japan that it would follow the coming year, we saw some early screenshots of it looking very good indeed. The potential was there and all appeared to be going to plan, that meant expected delays of course.
But delays entered into more delays with Polyphony eventually postponing development due to a range of excuses. Could the game really be so vast that it required a full development team for 4 years? So with development halted and the game virtually shelved there was little hope of it ever being released. That was until late 2008 when news emerged that the game was back on track and would hit stores in 2009, great news for GT and racing fans alike, so let’s see if it’s been worth the wait?
It’s time to begin yet another epic GT journey and how better than enjoying one of Polyphony’s fantastic intros, probably the best example since Ridge Racers. With graphical effects miles beyond the PSP itself, it reminded me of the old days when kickass intros always let you know what you were missing.
So I press start, look for the GT mode and get ready to begin starting my career. Hang on, where’s the GT mode? Oh, there’s no GT mode? Instead, this game appears to have no structure at all, players simply select a single race mode and go from there, winning earns money and money makes more cars available while you work your way up a class/experience system.
A disappointing start, it didn’t grab me and wasn’t the carefully crafted racing experience I was expecting, the car selection screens are also limited. Despite the game having a supposed 800 cars I couldn’t find them because the game doesn’t let you see a full car listing, instead it makes random cars available as it assess your progress, so if you see a car you like and save up for it, chances are you won’t be able to buy it by the time you get there. So a disappointing main structure and certainly not what we were expecting, with the car dealerships frustrating in their restricted options.
The game does include Time Trial and Drift modes but with no online scoreboard, it’s more of a personal challenge rather than a community one, lacking longevity and missing options which are standard fare in other titles, even missing out on online multiplayer. Of course the licenses make a return, and as much of a challenge as they’ve ever been but these are by far the best way to earn cash, as ever earning cash can be a cumbersome and tiring affair which is a shame, resulting in many players only ever owning or driving a fraction of the cars this game has to offer.
Graphically GT PSP is nice, not spectacular but it gets the job done and the 60fps is a fantastic achievement. However, there is a curious blur effect of rival cars that can be very off-putting. It’s a strange addition and certainly not a practical one but overall the approach is solid. In many ways its a smoothed off version of the PS1 original, even containing the same breaks in polygons, but you can’t complain when driving the Nurburgring at 60fps on a handheld.
Good frame rate really does help the handling and the handling is what you’ve come to expect. It initially takes a bit of getting used to, judgment visually can be tough but this is supported by the racing line amongst standard assist options and varies considerably between different vehicles. There’s also an interesting in-car view, I say interesting rather than practical, actually it looks rubbish and probably isn’t the most practical way to play.
So to summerise, GT PSP is a solid racing package but completely uninspiring in terms of design, a lazy structure and certainly not in keeping with the stable GT core. Overall it’s a disappointing gaming experience, not what we were expecting or with the qualities Polyphony have made us accustomed to. But despite my misgivings, it is still one of the best racers on the format and as always worth a purchase for fans of the genre.
GT PSP is a solid racing package but completely uninspiring in terms of design, a lazy structure and certainly not in-keeping with the stable GT core. Overall, it’s a disappointing gaming experience, not what we were expecting or with the qualities Polyphony have made us accustomed to. But despite my misgivings it is still one of the best racers on the format and a always a worth purchase for fans of the genre.