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Company: Empire Interactive
Estimated Street Price: £35
Review By: Byron Hinson
Now then - Despite having a similar name to a certain other racing game on the Playstation, Gran Turismo it certainly isn’t. Ok, now my first moan is out of the way, let us take a look at the features.
Grand Touring comes on the single CD and installation is really easy. The game requires you to have DirectX 6.0 installed onto your PC (Included) and as per usual, the latest drivers for your graphics cards are needed.
The first time that Grand Touring loads up, you are asked to select the graphics card you wish to use in the game (Assuming you have one 2D and one 3D card), I chose my Voodoo 2 card. Next you will notice an intensely long load time of around one and a half minutes and this is simply not acceptable for the majority of PC users nowadays (Especially those running on a PII-450).
When the game finally loads, you are presented with 5 options.
I clicked on Game Options and went right ahead and set up my joystick and my sound, next I went to select my vehicle. At first there are only two cars to select from, this is because you have to win certain races to be able to use the other cars. This isn’t such a bad thing (although perhaps Empire should have given us more than two cars to start off with), as it gives you the emphasis to go on to win races to race with newer, better cars. You can also change the colour and the gear set up here too.
I went with the default first track, each track differs from the other in terms of appearance and difficulty, unfortunately, although you can change the weather settings when you select your track – you cannot select a random option. I picked the dry setting (default)
Once you click on start race the game loads up pretty fast, first impressions of the graphics are good, they seem colourful and the light shading and chrome effects are well used. Features such as skid marks, (hmmm) birds, trees, spectators and collisions are all good looking, but some very bad collision detection props up in various parts of the game whilst you are racing. (I don’t ever remember driving around in real life when birds flew in through a closed window).
The graphics do not look as impressive as those in Need For Speed 3 or Ultimate Race Pro, but they are fast, nicely detailed and do the job. You have a number of different views to choose from while you are racing (press the C key), these range from the completely unusable, to the drivers seat and side-on views.
The CD soundtrack is suitably techno, which seems the norm for most racing games these days, the problem with the CD audio soundtrack is that it is too loud and it tends to block out the sound effects, which is no bad thing seeing they are so dire. Birds are silent and crashing into any number of opponents or objects brings out the SAME crash sound over and over.
The physics seem to be well done in Grand Touring. As far as I can tell, the cars handle realistically and they behave the way they should. There does tend to be only a very small difference between each car though. The damage “Physics” are limited to say the least, and no damage is shown graphically. You have two parts of your car that can get damaged, your engine and your tires. Damage your engine and you won't accelerate or shift gears as smoothly. Damage your tires and you slide about etc etc.
The controls, as with all racing games takes some time to get used to. It would be far easier to use a steering wheel, assuming you have one, but I had to use a Microsoft Precision Pro joystick. It’s your basic left, right, forward is accelerate, and back is brake…and depending on how you like your gears set-up the buttons take care of that.
Grand Touring is one of the hardest racing games I have played in a long time, not just because of the controls, but also because of the opponents you come up against. I started to get frustrated very easily with the game, because it seemed that no matter how well I was racing (In front for 4-5 laps) one false move tended to send me right to last place and I then found it impossible to find a way back up to the front. Thankfully you can customize your car to gain that vital extra bit of speed.
Grand Touring is good, but just not good enough. It fails only slightly as an arcade game, but also fails as a simulator. Don’t get me wrong, I love racing games when they are done well, but I feel that racing games on the PC still have a long way to go before they submit a real challenge to the dominance consoles currently have over them.
Version 1.0 UK
In The Box?
1 Set of instructions
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