Tourist Trophy - Gran Turismo, One Difference; The Vehicles.

Some of you may be questioning my motives for mentioning the short distance that the developers have taken, well the main motto of the Gran Turismo franchise was "The Real Driving Simulator" and the motto for Tourist Trophy is "The Real Riding Simulator", can you see what I mean yet, if not I can guarantee you'll know by the end of this review.

As the disc started to read and the language selection menu appeared, I thought I'd received the wrong disc, maybe an old Gran Turismo game but nonetheless I progressed through the menus still confused about the true identity of the game. Suddenly the motorbikes appeared and I was saved from my panic. Well that's enough of my rant about the comparison of Gran Turismo and Tourist Trophy, onto the review.

The game has been released in Japan for a while now and I had seen previews of the game, it looked good but there were rumours that the game was too realistic for some people but surely the whole point of games is that they are challenging. Due to Polyphony Digital developing the game I was obviously excited about the game after the instantaneous success of the Gran Turismo franchise and was expecting the same successful racing formula to be used.

Ride, Fall Off, Ride, Fall Off. The vicious circle.

As I already mentioned if you have played the Gran Turismo games before you will know what the menus are like, simplistic and brightly highlighted. Before and after races the options are labelled and also have pictures relevant to the selection. The game is not a good choice for people who like pick up and play games as Tourist Trophy requires dedication before you've finished the first lap on your practice time trial. The controls are simple enough but where the game's physics engine is so detailed, at times you feel like you have limited control of the bike; for example if you approach a corner too fast you've just got to let the bike take it's own course as even if you do brake the bike will continue to skid along usually until it hits a barrier.

During the game, you have a wide selection of bikes to choose from, whether it be a 125cc or 1000cc. The developers if they wanted to could have made minor adjustments to each bike to provide a small difference but each bike is detailed in many ways. The design and physical features of each bike are individually designed but the one feature that wows you away is how each bike rides depending on its engine size, for example the sense of speed is noticeably different on each bike. Another realistic feature is the way the bikes once they get a threshold speed begin to feel like they are shaking and at times the wheels lift up and it's your job to regain control of the bike. As usual though with one good thing something bad has to follow and as the game closely follows Gran Turismo certain habits are dragged across such as the unrealistic crash system. Something I had to try for the test was to drive into a barrier at 150mph but all that happened was you hit the wall, skid along it for a few seconds and fall off. Finally The AI within the game is fairly intelligent and is considerably difficult to negotiate with as is the bike itself.

Looking Around When Doing 150mph = Difficult

The various object models within the game are solid especially the bikes themselves, with every bike having various designs. Buildings around the track seem realistic enough along with the bridges etc. The objects in the game, most of the time gently glide into view which makes the gaming experience enjoyable but sometimes an object in the distance appears suddenly, but this is me serving attention to detail as when you are riding in the middle of a race your eyes will be focused entirely on the road ahead.

Each course is different, whether it is in the residence of a city or in a forest. Along with the tracks which are varied shapes and sizes, though some of the tracks can cause frustration due to the continuous bends when you just want to full-throttle the bike. One of the strong points within the game is the different views available during the race; you can either race 3rd person, 1st person with handlebars or 1st person with just a computerised speedometer. My favourite view within the game is the 1st person view with the handlebars, as this really allows you to get involved with the race, the developers have also put some effort into the various measurements on the bike; for example the speedometer in this view is fully functional. My only fault from what I have seen from the game so far is that there doesn't seem to be any variance on the weather front with each course glazed in sun, well apart from the races that are at night.

Music Or The Roar Of Engines, Your Choice.

There is some good news; you can choose whether you want to hear some music playing or the roar of a motorbike engine. Although it seems like an obvious choice to some of you, there is a large list of music you can choose to play and if you want to hear the engine in the background you can adjust the volumes of the music and engine sounds.

The overall sounds of the engines are realistic and with the volume loud enough, make you shiver. Each engine class have a different tone to them, for example the 1000cc bikes have a very low groan, in comparison the sound of the 125cc bikes bare resemblance to a squeal. The engine sounds are continuous and I have not yet heard one of them stop or cut out while the throttle is firmly held down. Another good feature about this game is that there is no commentary, this can actually be useful for when you want to pretend to be a real motorcyclist because when you're in the first-person view with the handlebars near enough to choke you, you don't want a person to give you a running commentary on your race.