Gran Turismo 4 (グランツーリスモ4 Guran Tsūrisumo Fō , commonly abbreviated GT4) is a 2004 racing simulator video game for the Sony PlayStation 2 which was developed by Polyphony Digital and published by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released on December 28, 2004 in Japan and Hong Kong (NTSC-J), February 22, 2005 in North America (NTSC-U/C), and March 9, 2005 in Europe (PAL), and has since been re-issued under Sony's 'Greatest Hits' line. Gran Turismo 4 is one of only four titles for the PlayStation 2 that is capable of 1080i output, another being Tourist Trophy which was also created by Polyphony.
GT4 was delayed for over a year and a half by Polyphony Digital, and had its online mode removed (later added in Gran Turismo online test version). The game features over 700 cars from 80 manufacturers, from as early as the 1886 Daimler Motor Carriage and as far into the future as concepts for 2022. The game also features 51 tracks, many of which are new or modified versions of old Gran Turismo favorites, with some notable real-world additions.
The Chinese, Japanese, and Korean versions of the game were bundled with a 212-page driving guide and lessons on the physics of racing. A limited edition, Gran Turismo 4 Online test version, was released in Japan in summer 2006. A PSP enhanced port entitled Gran Turismo Mobile was originally planned for development, but was later renamed to Gran Turismo, which was released October 1, 2009. The follow-up game, Gran Turismo 5, was released in 2010 exclusively for the PlayStation 3.
Players now accumulate points by winning races in the normal first-person driving mode, called A-Spec mode. Each race event can yield up to a maximum of 200 A-Spec points. Generally, a win using a car with less of an advantage over the AI opponents is worth more points. Points can only be won once, so to win further points from a previously-won event, it must be re-won using a car with less of an advantage over the AI. There are also the 34 Missions which can yield 250 points each. Despite this, A-Spec points are experience points, not money.
The new B-Spec mode puts players in the place of a racing crew chief: telling the driver how aggressively to drive, when to pass, and mandating pit stops (by monitoring tire wear and fuel level). The speed of the time in the race can be increased up to 3x, allowing for Endurance races to be completed in less time than would take in A-Spec mode. The 3x feature, however, must be turned on after every pit stop because it resets to normal time. The game manual says that the player may speed up B-Spec mode by up to 5x, but this is believed to be a typo. B-Spec points are given out for each race completed in B-Spec mode. This increases the skill level of the AI driver in the categories of vehicle skill, course skill, and battle skill. Players can thereby use B-Spec mode in harder races as the game progresses, but this mode cannot be used on wet, dirt and snow courses.
Another new addition to the game is the Driving Missions, which are similar in experience to the license tests, but award successful completion with 250 A-Spec points and 1000 of more credits. Each mission takes place with a given car on a given track or section of track, and a given set of opponents. There are 4 sets of missions: The Pass, in which the driver must overtake an opponent within a certain distance; 3 Lap Battle, in which the driver must pass 5 opponents over the course of 3 laps; Slipstream Battle, in which the driver must overtake identical opponents by way of drafting; and 1 Lap Magic, in which the driver starts with a significant time penalty against much slower opponents and must overtake them all in the space of a single lap. Completing each set of missions earns the player a prize car. There are a total of 5 prize cars available to be won, they are the DeLorean DMC-12, Jay Leno Tank Car, Pagani Zonda Race Car, Toyota 7, and the Nissan R89C.
A new Photo Mode is included in the game, which allows the player to control a virtual camera, taking pictures of their cars on the track or at specific locations, including the Grand Canyon. This game is able to produce a selection of screenshots with variable compression rate (Normal/Fine/SuperFine) and size (up to 1280x960 72dpi), and the user can choose to save or print to a supported USB device.
Compared with Gran Turismo 3, graphics are greatly improved (despite running on the same PlayStation 2 hardware). The physics are also greatly improved, with the major upgrade that cars now experience body movement (such as dive under brakes). Barriers have a lot more friction to slow down the cars in GT3 (in an attempt to stop the use of "wall riding"), however there is minimal friction between cars, so the advantage obtained by running into the side of another car (instead of braking) is still present. The driving missions do give a 5-second penalty for hitting the walls or opponents' cars in this way, where the car's speed is restricted until the counter reaches zero.
GT4 supports Dolby Digital surround, 480p/1080i (NTSC only) and widescreen modes, however 1080i is only supported in single player races. Despite the lack of online gameplay, GT4 does support use of the PlayStation 2 Network Adapter, which can be used to communicate with additional PS2s to create a multi-screen setup. In addition, the Network Adapter can be used to play games on a local subnet for up to six players, though player customized cars cannot be used in a LAN game. Support for the Logitech Driving Force Pro and GT Force steering wheels is continued from Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Other "PC" steering wheels previously (and unofficially) supported in GT3 were explicitly disabled for GT4. New support is given for USB storage and print devices used in Photo Mode.
GT4 continues in its predecessors' footsteps by offering an extremely large list of cars; the PAL version, for example, features 721 cars from 80 manufacturers. There are differences in the car lists between the different GT4 regional versions, and some cars have different names, e.g. the JDM Toyota Vitz is known as the Toyota Yaris in places such as Europe and Puerto Rico and the second generation Mazda Demio is known as the Mazda 2 in the same places (PAL version only), and a well spotted example is the Opel Speedster which is more commonly known as the Vauxhall VX220. One notable omission of the game is that it does not feature some well-known car manufacturer names such as Porsche, Ferrari, and Lamborghini. However, RUF, a company that modifies Porsches, is in GT4. Some of the cars are multiple variations on a single base model; there are 20 different Subaru Imprezas and Legacies, 25 Mitsubishi Lancer/Lancer Evolutions, and 48 Nissan Skylines, including the Nissan GT-R Proto. One vehicle, another Skyline, is in pace car form in the "Guide Lap" licence tests and is also a prize car. There is also the GT Edition, which was the pace car without the pace car lights, and even more power (541 horsepower, the standard version packs 276). Each vehicle model has over 5000 polygons. Car prices range from about 2500 credits for basic 1980s Japanese used cars up to 4.5 million (450,000,000 in the Japanese version) credits for the top end (mostly Le Mans) race cars. Some special prize-only cars (such as the Pagani Zonda LM Race Car '01) are not visible in the vehicle showrooms, and a few do not have corresponding dealerships, and thus are unmodifiable, for example, the Formula Gran Turismo (F1 car).
GT4 is responsible for a few vehicle firsts in the Gran Turismo series. It is the first to feature pickup trucks, such as the Toyota Tacoma and Dodge Ram. It is the first game in the series to feature the DeLorean, using the stage II spec engine (developed in 2004, hence the 2004 designation). It is also the first in the series to feature a diesel powered car, the BMW 120d. A special edition of GT4 featuring the 120d (and the rest of the 1 Series line), and three tracks were provided to BMW customers who purchased their 1 Series automobile before the release of GT4. While Gran Turismo 2 did have a one-off F1 engine version of the Renault Espace, GT4 was the first of the series to feature a production minivan, the Honda Odyssey (JDM version). A first-generation Mitsubishi Pajero Paris-Dakar rally car, a winner of the 1985 rally, makes an appearance as the first SUV in racing trim; the first SUV to appear in the GT series was the Subaru Forester in GT2 (although in fact the Forester can be racing modified). It was also the first in the series to feature D1 Grand Prix tuned cars such as Ken Nomura's Blitz ER34 D1GP.
The game includes some prize cars of historical interest, such as vehicles from as far back as 1886 at the dawn of the automobile. A special car called the Auto Union V16 Type C Streamline, built in 1937, can only be used in Power and Speed (which tests the performance of vehicles) or a test drive in Nürburgring, but interestingly has around 542 HP. Even some modern cars with complex body shapes cannot be raced against opponents, such as the Caterham Seven Fireblade. In Arcade Mode, these cars can be raced against a single opponent; this is the case for any convertible with the top down
There is also a special car which is specially tuned, called the 'Shuichi Shigeno' version of Toyota AE86, which is taken from Initial D, and is licensed by Toyota, although Toyota has never used the name of the author of Initial D. Comedian Jay Leno, an avid car collector, is listed in the game as a manufacturer; one of his custom cars, the Blastolene Special or "Tank Car", is included in the game as a prize car, available after beating missions 11-20. The 2022 Nike ONE has Morse code on the right hand side of the car. When reversed, this reads "www.phil-frank.com", the artist commissioned to design this car for GT4. There is also some Morse code visible on the inside of all four tires, but it is not decipherable.
GT4 retains all the familiar tuning parameters from the previous games in the series, but also allows weight to be added to the car. This can be positioned to affect handling or used as a form of handicapping. Another new vehicle tuning addition is nitrous oxide injection. Also, GT Auto can now install a rear wing on some cars, making it possible to adjust the car' downforce, which was previously only possible on racing cars or, on the first two games in the series, cars with the racing modification performed. The Suzuki Swift was present in its successor, Gran Turismo 5 but was known as a concept car in GT4, since the launch of the car was not official at the time of the game's launch.
The game features 51 tracks, which are divided into 4 groups, World Circuits, Original Circuits, City Courses, and Dirt & Snow. Many of which are new or modified versions of old Gran Turismo favourites, however the inclusion of the Nurburgring is a centre-piece of the game. Notable real-world track inclusions are the Nürburgring Nordschleife, Suzuka Circuit, Twin Ring Motegi (with three Road Course configurations, as well as the Super Speedway) and Circuit de la Sarthe (Le Mans). There are also tracks modeled after world famous attractions such as New York City's Times Square, Hong Kong, Hôtel George-V Paris, and the Las Vegas Strip. The Hong Kong course is located in the Tsim Sha Tsui district, which, in its clockwise configuration, starts at Salisbury Road, passes through the city's waterfront and then Nathan Road.
The Città d'Aria course follows actual roads in Assisi, Italy. The race starts/finishes in the piazza in front of the temple Minerva. Just before the start/finish line on this course, written on the tarmac is an inscription in broken Italian: "Dio lo benedice — fate il suo guidare il più sicuro e divertirsi", which, when translated, means "God blesses him; make his driving the most safely and to have fun." On the Seattle circuit, the Kingdome, the previous home of the Seattle Mariners, is visible next to their current stadium, Safeco Field. Kingdome was demolished in an implosion on March 26, 2000. Because the Seattle circuit was created for GT2 in 1999, before the Kingdome's demolition, it has been left unchanged and the Mariners' now completed home, Safeco Field, remains under construction, not to be completed until 2002. A section of the Opera Paris course passing through Place de la Concorde was traversed by Claude Lelouch in the short film C'etait un rendez-vous.
There are no changes in weather or time conditions during races. Even during the 24-hour endurance races, there is no transition from day to night or between different types of weather. All of the tracks are run in dry weather, with the exception of the Tsukuba Wet Race.
Due to the game being among the few requiring a DVD-9 (DVD-R DL), and one of the 4 HD compatible PS2 games, the laser needs to operate on optimum efficiency. There have been many reports of an "endless black screen" right after the Copyright text, or the game not working after the intro, or "the red clock". Sony has not cited anything about these problems, but many speculate on the fact that the laser has "worn out". So it either needs to be properly cleaned, or replaced. Some copies of the game are also incompatible with the PS2 slimline consoles.
Jeremy Clarkson, host of the Top Gear television program, performed a head-to-head test of real life versus GT4 on an episode of the program. He ran Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in real life and used an Acura NSX for a lap time of 1:57. But in the game he used a Honda NSX-R (which is lighter) with a lap time of 1:41:148. Clarkson also had to be shown by a race driving instructor where the line was between the game and reality. He pointed out that adjusting one's braking mid-turn in a real car could cause loss of control, and also mentioned that in the game, he is compelled to take bigger risks than he would in real life, and that in the game, the car did not suffer from brake fade. Despite the apparent discrepancies, in a column for The Sunday Times, Clarkson had this to say about GT4:
|“||I called Sony and asked it to send me a game chip already loaded with the 700 computer cars. And I am in a position to test out its claims because, unlike most people, I really have driven almost all of them in real life. There are mistakes. The BMW M3 CSL, for instance, brakes much better on the road than it does on the screen. And there's no way a Peugeot 106 could outdrag a Fiat Punto off the line. But other than this, I’m struggling: they’ve even managed to accurately reflect the differences between a Mercedes SL 600 and the Mercedes SL 55, which is hard enough to do in real life. There's more, too. If you take a banked curve in the Bentley Le Mans car flat out, you’ll be fine. If you back off, even a little bit, you lose the aerodynamic grip and end up spinning. That's how it is. This game would only be more real if a big spike shot out of the screen and skewered your head every time you crashed. In fact that's the only real drawback: that you can hit the barriers hard without ever damaging you or your car. Maybe they’re saving that for GT5. Perhaps it’ll be called Death or Glory.||”|
Karl Brauer of edmunds.com performed a similar test, also at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in which he and two others — professional race driver AJ Allmendinger, and IGN gaming editor Justin Kaehler — set times in GT4 and real life in a variety of cars. Brauer's best time in a Ford GT in the game was 1:38, and his best time on the real track was 1:52. In the four vehicles the trio tested, none was able to duplicate his game times on the real track. Brauer suggested the main differences between the game and reality:
|“||Which brings up the single biggest difference between reality and virtual reality — consequences. A mistake on Gran Turismo 4 costs me nothing more than a bad lap time. A mistake with a real exotic car on a real racetrack is... a bit more costly. The other major difference between virtual racing and the real thing is feedback from the car — or an almost total lack thereof. Yes, the force feedback steering wheel does its best to let you know when you're veering off the track, or sliding the rear end, but none of this comes close to the kind of information you get while driving a real vehicle. And in a car like the Ford GT, that's vital information.||”|
Many reviewers criticized the game for its continued lack of rendered damage. Instead of actual damage, the cars (depending on the speed and angle in which the collision occurred) simply bounce or spin off of the car, wall, or obstacle. Reviewers complained of the continued ability to take unrealistic short cuts, such as the ones on Fuji Speedway 90's, Driving Park Beginner Course and Circuit de la Sarthe I, where the driver can cut right across the chicane, allowing a player to win by cheating. One reviewer also complained that cars do not have enough grip. The game has also been criticized for lack of online play which had been promised during early development, but was announced as being removed at the time of release. Many reviewers expressed disappointment in the game's AI system, noting that "virtual racers will follow their (driving) line with little concern for where the human driver is at any one time." This is more evident during rally races and missions in which a 5 second speed penalty is given for hitting the other cars or the barriers, regardless of who initiated the contact. Some critics found B-Spec mode to offer little to the overall experience.
By March 2013, Gran Turismo 4 had shipped 1.27 million copies in Japan, 3.47 million in North America, 6.82 million in Europe, and 180,000 in Asia for a total of 11.73 million copies. It is the second highest-selling game in the Gran Turismo franchise ahead of Gran Turismo but behind Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec respectively.
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