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 The Final Word game review

Gran Turismo 2 -- Sony Computer Entertainment/Polyphony Digital

Ferrari Man
Anytime a reviewer says a game is the "best ever" he or she steps out on a limb and risks their reputation as a journalist. However, saying that Gran Turismo 2 is the best racing game ever, on any platform isn't too strong a statement for this latest installment from Sony/Polyphony.

Gran Turismo 2 may not be the best in every area, but the overall package creates a game that is incredibly fun with life-like detail and heart pounding excitement. From the 500+ accurate licensed cars, to the detailed racing tracks -- and multiple modes of play -- this game has it all. The heart of GT2 is it's simulation mode. In simulation mode you start off by achieving a "license to race." Good drivers will be rewarded with a free car for completing all of the license tests. If your skill level isn't good enough to pass all the license tests with gold yet, don't worry -- the game starts you off with a few thousand dollars to go buy a used car from a dealer. Much like real life, the selection of used cars is ever changing, and varied in price. Select your first car carefully -- you don't have lots of money to start with. After getting your rolling gear together -- head to one of the free race tracks, and start learning to drive! For each finish you win money. The better you finish, the more you win.

So far GT2 sounds like most other racing games (sans the 500+ licensed cars) -- but what sets GT2 apart from the crowd is the car setup, and race physics.

Car buffs (like myself) will go crazy over all the accurate setting options you have on your modified cars. From the standards like selecting tire compound, to the wild like balancing light weight fly-wheels with proper transmission gear ratios this game has it all. Once you've outfitted your car with all the latest go fast goodies, you get to set it up. Spring rate, ride height, dampening, downforce, gear ratios, negative camber... it's all in there.

And with the right tweaking you can set your ride up exactly like you want it. Beginners to the car scene, or younger players can choose "semi-professional" parts which require far less setup. One of the most fascinating components of the setup of GT2 is that it requires some skill, and forethought. Too many racing games just rely on you buying the most expensive parts to win. Not so with GT2.

Although you will not be competitive without investing some serious dollars on your vehicle -- the most expensive route is often not the fastest -- and certainly not the fastest on all tracks. You will need to take care to examine the torque curves (power characteristics) of various turbo systems depending on track layout, and your other performance parts. "Downgrading" to a less expensive engine system can often make you much faster for many vehicle/track combinations.

All the setup screens in the world don't make up for a lack of good racing, and GT2 is no exception. The racing in GT2 is simply awesome. From the two player mode where you compete against your friend with cars you have each built up, to the excellent one player mode where you almost get to "live the race" the game delivers. Expect to invest some serious time on this one once you get it. Smaller races you can complete in only a few minutes, but the endurance runs literally take hours to complete.

Not into anything BUT racing? No problem, GT2 delivers here as well with an arcade mode. The arcade mode let's you jump right in and race, with a very short menu of choices for your vehicle. A great solution for a quick game, the impatient, or those who only want to race.

All that said, what's not to like? Very little -- but there are still a few areas which could be improved. The most obvious is the menuing system. It is very slow, and cumbersome to move around the game menus. The ability to return your vehicles settings to "factory default" would also be greatly appreciated when your "tweaking" doesn't work out quite right. However, a quick return to your save game (you only get one) can fix this for those who haven't saved yet.

Overall, all Polyphony has left to do is drive into the winner's circle and enjoy the celebration!

>>>>> 24.0/25 <<<<< Ferrari Man
Graphics 4.5
Sound 4.5
Gameplay/Control 5.0
Longevity/Playability 5.0
Overall 5.0
Total 24.0