A Playstation Retrospective: Gran Turismo 2 (1999)

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...but BEFORE THAT, the answer to my Pop Quiz on the link between the New Yorker Pizza and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater?

When you bought a stuffed crust pizza sometime around 1999-2000, you got a demo disc of Playstation video games. The advertisement was actually from the disc. The Tony Hawk's Pro Skater demo was on Disc #1, and this next game I will talk about was on Disc #2.

...but ALSO BEFORE THAT, a big shoutout to the sound designer from back in the day who thought that every Playstation game that ever existed should have some version of Rob Zombie's "Dragula" in it. That person must have been working on the latest Twisted Metal because it's there, too.

Actually, let's talk about the licensed soundtrack as a whole. This game - as well its prequel - has a soundtrack that forces a "huh?" look on your face. It, by any typical merit, should not have existed in a racing game, and it still managed to work so well. No normal person would have put this song on their racing game.

This is due to the dark nature of the licensed soundtrack. There are no pop smash hits here, and they probably would clash with the immersive feel of this game's driving. Now of course racing games like "Midnight Club 3" also have a strange selection of songs, but that's because Rockstar got pretty much everyone on Cash Money Records to get something in this game. It's a corporate negotiation, the same reason why Jay-Z's songs are all over NBA 2k13. Whoever chose the songs for this game is far more cunning than that. That said, it's not like the late 90's were a normal period for any music genre. Nothing usual came out of the late 90's. As for the menu music, this was when the songs got a little jazzy, clashing with the aforementioned darkness of the in-game music. As a result, the jazzy feel of this game's menu music is much less fitting than the really spaced out score from its predecessor (which also is a great example of creativity through limitations, as each song has the same 8 or so sounds in it).

Now, onto "OMG I REALLY HATE THESE LICENSE TESTS" 2. This game just has too many objectives that get in the way of the proper action. Those license tests are certainly some kind of evil, and you'll feel an intense migraine when you have perfected cornering through every apex and still can't even get a measly silver trophy (and it won't only happen once). In addition to the license tests, this franchise has always had a ridiculous amount of repetitive play needed to get any real good races to unlock, or any good money to buy cars to use in said races. You could come to its defense and call it good practice. I call it something slightly different:

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Don't get me wrong, you can immediately buy a car and have a few races to participate in, but the races are so few and the money is so little that it must have been the bare minimum to not break the game from the start.

Regarding the physics engine, I must be honest about these physics; Gran Turismo 2 represents the logic of racing better than any non-GT game since, before and after. How did Polyphony Digital manage that over a decade ago? Well, they properly figured out how to make a car fight you. It will fight you for every 2 G turn you want it to take. When a game requires you to take 3 separate tests all on starting and stopping, you know this game's physics are not to be underestimated. As evil as those tests are, they're a necessary evil. You can't just stack a bunch of horsepower in your car and expect to win easily. You can't even do it and add super soft tires if you don't have the skills behind the wheels. Act like a fool, and the best you can possibly do is catch up on straightaways. If there is no other reason to be mindful when driving, the graphics have not aged well on this game,and sharp turns can seemingly appear out of nowhere to a person accustomed to 1080p as the new standard definition.

Hey guys, have you guys seen reviews for Gran Turismo 5? Notice how many reviewers say that navigating through menus is really clumsy and slow? Polyphony has been that bad at it for a while now. Gran Turismo 2 doesn't have a loading screen in between each menu view, and you are always one X (darnit, I don't say "cross") button away from reaching your garage, races, or statistics. That said, tuning my car felt like forever in comparison to GT5. I really wish there was some "auto upgrade" feature that would just purchase the most beneficial upgrades available. The worst, though? When, say, you purchase a racing muffler for your car, and it asks you this ridiculous question:

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NO, POLYPHONY DIGITAL.

I WOULD NOT LIKE TO INSTALL THIS MUFFLER I BOUGHT.

I JUST THOUGHT IT WOULD BE NICE TO LOOK AT.

I have posted on these forums about me reaching GT5's "Car Collector" trophy (reaching 1000 cars) and that took me around 15 months to do. As you would imagine, even the completionist in me doesn't want to do all of that again. Luckily, this game only has around 650 cars in it wait what?! That's nearly the same as Forza 4, a game that was released 2 years ago! The combination of all these cars to use in all these events sure is dizzying and is all thanks to the developers who are extremely passionate about cars and care for every last detail of performance... while still managing to fit over 600 vehicles in the dang game. These guys and girls are car fantatics in the most overwhelmingly obsessive way. The game has its own "driver's guide," a booklet inside on the basics of racing, and it is completely separate from the instruction manual from the game itself. That, my friend, is fanaticism. I just wish they were equally fans on pretty much everything else that is involved with a racing game.

All in all, GT2 is the game that many fans of the franchise expect from a typical Gran Turismo game; it's gameplay is engaging, and the rest is a very calculated and coordinated mess.

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