Well, it was a whole four days before I broke down and bought Gran Turismo 4, but from what I had heard from certain people it is supposed to be nothing less than automotive ecstasy. I’m thinking that’s true, so far, and while I wasn’t into the 3rd installment in the series, I really liked the concept as a whole. The reintroduction of used cars as well as more niche vehicles (like the original Beetle or the M-B 300 SL Gullwing) will make this much more enjoyable, provided money flows more freely than it did in GT3.
The other reason I didn’t spend a lot of time with GT3 was the certain core issues that I just couldn’t get past. I wrote about those in May of last year (“GT3: I don’t hate it, I just don’t like it”):
…it has less camera angles than the previous game. Whereas before you had two third-person views, there is now only one, plus the requisite first-person, in-car view. Problem is, this view is completely inadequate. The camera sits too low and too close behind the car – to the point where the road ahead is sometimes obstructed by your vehicle, usually when a turn is immediately ahead.
They’ve now added a third camera angle between the two – one that is kind of mounted on top of your car. I think they’ve remedied the issue with the third-person view as well. I’ve not had camera problems so far, but I am still spoiled by GTA:SA’s clever resolution for this issue: pressing up on the left analog stick pans the camera above your car to see what the car itself might have been obstructing.
Another feature that this game is noticeably lacking is some kind of brightness adjustment. Shaded areas of the track tend to wash out to the point where, again, you can barely tell what’s happening, if at all. I am very pleased with the current settings of our WEGA, and I don’t think it should be necessary to adjust the brightness just for this game. The game I’m comparing this to which shall remain nameless does have brightness options. Thankfully, GT3 does at least have an aspect ratio option.
From what I’ve seen in the menus, it now has brightness, contrast, and saturation as well. Way to go!
What GT has yet to nail down is their segues between races. GT2 had the unavoidable automatic replay. So far in GT3, all I’ve done is the licensing tests, but that’s enough to drive me insane. If you fail one of these, the most awful music ever begins playing, and the game just sits for 5 or 10 seconds before relinquishing control to you. This means that you’ll probably want to pause and restart instead, which is instantaneous. I’d like to see Gran Turismo take note of the not-quite-so-popular Vanishing Point.
See, Vanishing Point has similar tests, but if you run into something that would cause you to fail, the action immediately stops. Two or three options pop up (I think quit, retry, and replay) and the camera begins to pan around the car, so you can see what hit where. You can watch this if you want or you can immediately try again. There’s a bit of ambient music and noise, but it doesn’t sound as though the game is celebrating your defeat.
Again, this has been fixed! I really like how they’ve handled the failed tests now (believe me, I’ve seen my share). As soon as you fail, the screen goes black and white and shrinks down to the left side – on the right side, it tells you the test number, gives you the “failed” message, and you immediately have the option to restart or exit. As an added bonus, the music that they use is from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so even failing isn’t so bad anymore. I wonder, did someone on the development team see my complaints or was I not the only one who had them? Even the sound effects (on the menus) have (finally) been updated; one of my more petty issues.
I went to see a local production of Les Miserables last night. Abe was doing sound for it and the cast was a mixture of high-schoolers from the Wausau area. It was a really amazing show. Granted it was not quite to the scale of the professional production, but the fact that this was put on entirely by a school-aged cast is uncanny. I was very impressed overall, and it doesn’t surprise me that they’ve had to turn people away nightly.