When it comes to racing simulators Gran Turismo was in a class all its own, until Forza came along but we’ll discuss that later. Racing games were fine before Gran Turismo came along, but they were lacking a depth that only Gran Turismo could show us we were missing out on. Formula One: Built to Win for the NES comes to my mind when I think of a game that tried its hardest to give the player a racing simulator experience, but was severely limited by the hardware. Gran Turismo seemed to come out at the perfect time when technology was expanding in both hardware capability and allowance of game size. With Gran Turismo being such a hit, there was no other option than to create a sequel.
I have to admit that I was so hooked on Gran Turismo that I didn’t acquire a copy of Gran Turismo 2 until it was in clearance bins to make room for PS2 games. GT2 was so action packed that this time it actually warranted the use of a bigger case, as simulation and arcade were each on a disc of their own. While Gran Turismo boasted 140 authentic sports cars, GT2 boasted over 500 cars from world-class manufacturers. More cars had to mean this game was better, right? Let’s see what GT2 had to offer and find out.
What would any entry in the Gran Turismo series be without cars? With the aforementioned boast of over 500 cars Gran Turismo 2’s roster of vehicles ranges from cars some people can only dream about driving outside of GT2, all the way down to cars in some people’s nightmares because they are so boring. But let’s not forget the insane vehicles such as two drag cars, two Pike’s Peak edition cars and an unsuspecting Dodge Intrepid ES, that can be turned into a full-on dragster once fully upgraded. I believe GT2 originally was slated to offer drag racing, but somewhere along the way that was scrapped, however the cars remain. None of these insane cars are really all that useful in a race that includes a lot of twists and turns, but get these cars out on the test oval and you’ll be flying.
Even though drag racing was scrapped rally racing made it all the way into the finished product, and although I would have loved to see them both, I feel rally racing is a better feature. Rally driving requires a different set of tires, and license, to participate, but there are a lot of cars that can pull double duty and race on the dirt courses as well as tarmac. Along with the new tires and license requirements rally racing brought in a whole new set of really fun tracks. For me there is something truly satisfying about sliding around on dirt tracks.
Outside of the rally tracks GT2 added some more tracks for general races as well. They kept some of the original tracks for familiarity but also added a few new tracks to the mix. Most of the tracks are really nice, and quite fun, however I found Laguna Seca to be a bit of a pain. This being Gran Turismo 2 I’m not unfamiliar with windy, twisty, turny courses, but it’s the way Laguna Seca is setup that threw me off, and I’ve hated it in every video game I’ve encountered it in ever since. The only redeeming part about Laguna Seca in GT2 is the fact you can glitch through the wall at a certain point and escape into the wide open world.
What GT2 did right, by which I mean the addition of rally racing and more cars, still couldn’t tame the frustration of those stupid license tests. My main issue with the license tests is there is absolutely no margin of error. Under normal racing conditions a player can sometimes find themselves slight off the racing circuit, which is usually a disadvantage, but if you get even a fraction of a millimeter off the track during a license test it’s all over. I understand completely cutting corners to get gold should be penalized, but to have a run disqualified because the grass 2 inches away waved in the breeze of your passing tires is just ludicrous. Not to mention the addition of rally races only increases the amount of licenses you now have to earn.
Gran Turismo 2 is pretty much the same experience you’ll find in Gran Turismo 1, with the exception of the aforementioned additions, slightly better graphics and the ability to change wheels. Earn licenses, earn money, upgrade cars, buy better cars and upgrade them and claw your way to the top. Or you can just play around in arcade mode and have fun racing all the cars around the various tracks at a slightly more leisurely pace. With as simple as the premise can sound this game is still incredibly fun, and that’s why Gran Turismo has become a long-standing series and a staple on the Playstation consoles for many generations.
About the author
Samuel Floyd first fell into video gaming with the Atari 2600...in the mid-90s! Always late into the system wars, Samuel enjoys that as he acquires them when they're cheap and the hot titles of yesteryear are bountiful. Samuel loves RPGs, his favorite being Crystalis for the NES.