August 8, 2002
Gran Turismo Concept:Tokyo-Geneva - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
19/7/2002SonyPolyphony Digital1-6 i.LinkGMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen

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Trackside detail is impressive.
Japanese gamers have always been a little different to Westerners. Sure, they enjoy many strange genres such as train simulations, dancing games and mech battle sims, but the also love their updates no matter how minor. When Polyphony Digital first announced Gran Turismo Concept the world was surprised. Where was Gran Turismo 4? Where was an online version? Gran Turismo Concept offers little new, beside some cars, and takes away much of the bulk of Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec, arguably the best racing game on the Playstation 2 (or any system) to date? But before we start somthing has to be made very clear. This game is aimed at those who found the massive amounts of detail and structure of GT3: A-Spec too daunting. Have Sony and Polyphony Digital succeeded? Mostly.

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The cars are very detailed.
So what's included, and excluded, in Gran Turismo Concept then? Well, the game has been stripped down considerably in the track count to start with. The game only includes 5 tracks which can be raced in either normal or reverse direction. The racing tracks include Midfield Raceway, Tokyo R246, and Autumn Ring while rally style tracks include the Swiss Alps and Tahiti Maze. Gran Turismo Concept includes two modes of play, with the Gran Turismo Mode being omitted.

The first mode is the license tests where you are given a certain car and must complete the tracks within a set time to earn a Bronze, Silver or Gold Cup. The second section of the game is the arcade races where you must compete against five CPU controlled cars. Once again, the better you perform the better the rewards. These races take place in one of three skill levels - Beginner, Advanced or Expert - the latter of which is only unlockable by completing the previous races. Also eliminated from thsi game is the need to purchase cars with prizemoney. New cars are now awarded by successfully completing a race or license test. Earn a Bronze medal and you get a car, get a Gold Medal and you get a second.

The actual gameplay style of racing is identical to that in the original Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Handling of the cars is exceptional with not only different cars seemingly different to drive, but even different versions of the same car, and cards which have been modified by yourself. These modifications include car height, tyre types, and gear ratios among others. Once again the multi-player reigns supreme with support for 6-players via i.Link cable.

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The Toyota POD's are strange cars.
It's fair to say that to many gamers Gran Turismo Concept may come as a disappointment. I don't agree. This game is aimed at a different market to the hardcore racing fans which is catered for by Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. Polyphony Digital have stripped this game down to make it more accessable to the casual gamer. It's a little bit easier to complete, but includes four nice unlockable bonuses besides the cars. Best of all you can earn 10 million credits to transfer to your Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec save game, essentially giving you enough money to buy any car you desire. One, somewhat expected, disappointment is that the game still doesn't include any damage to the cars. With more and more games including damage - even with licensed cars - I will be extremely disappointed if it isn't included in Gran Turismo 4.

One of the things that was most pleasing about this game was to see that the developers, Polyphony Digital, haven't merely used the same graphics engine as the original with new car models, but have tweaked the graphics to bring them to an even higher level. The texturing on the backgrounds, and billboards, looks a lot better, although the tracks are identical in design to those in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. The game also lacks a 60Hz frame rate which is a disappointment, but the game has been optimised to run in full screen. The car models are impressive and if anything the new cars look even more detailed then those that originally appeared in Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec.

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Yet more improved backgrounds.
Sound-wise Gran Turismo Concept is equivalent to its predecessor. The car engines sound impressive enough (just wait until you hear the POD's) with plenty of variety although the outside viewpoint car sounds are a little on the weak side. When it comes to music the selection is a lot more limited then the original game, but the tracks will get you in the mood for racing.

With Gran Turismo 4 still at least a year away this game will be your only fix until then. Fortunately, Sony were kind enough to release this title at a slightly lower RRP of only $AU69.95, with many stores selling it cheaper again. For gamers who overlooked the original Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec due to it's size this game may be for you. Gran Turismo Concept is a more "pick up and play" styled game. With some graphical enhancements and almost 100 cars in tow this is an impressive game that I would rather have on the shelves then not. It may be a little on the short side, but the gameplay, especially with up to 6-players, will have you coming back time and time again.

GRAPHICSA little more polished then the original Gran Turismo 3, which was hot.
SOUNDEssentially the same as GT3, great engines, limited music tracks.
GAMEPLAYMore simplified then GT3 intentionally, few car changes to make.
VALUEAbout 100 cars, only 5 tracks, license and arcade modes. Simplicity.
OVERALLI can see why Sony released this game. It has some great concept cars (the Toyota Pod!) but it's simplicity will certainly hook more inexperienced gamers. Car fanatics should also pick this game up, casual gamers who already have GT3 may want to give it a miss. Fortunately, the game retails for $AU69.95 which is significantly cheaper then other new releases. I certainly enjoyed the ride.

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