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Gran Turismo 2
Score: 98%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Racing

Graphics & Sound:
Gran Turismo is back, with more of everything you loved from the first one! Cars have never shined so much before. Choose from an unprecedented 500 vehicles, which look exceptionally correct (despite the disclaimer stating that they might not). You can choose your color (if you're buying a new car); even buy rims based on a whole slew of actual rim designs! For those (millions) of us who can't afford to 'fix' our cars up like we want, now you can... in GT2, anyways. The tracks are nice, and the graphics are superb. If you own the first one, you'll want GT2 for the new vehicles. If you don't have the original Gran Turismo, you'll want to get into it now. If you're a REAL PlayStation fan, you'll want to pick it up just to see the intro, which contains video from the PlayStation 2. My God, the PS2 is gonna rock!

As for the sound, it's great too. The sound effects are realistic, and the soundtrack is great, with music by Apollo Four Forty, Beck, The Crystal Method, Foo Fighters, Garbage, Rob Zombie, Filter, Gearwhore, Soul Coughing, the Cardigans, and Stone Temple Pilots. A strange mix perhaps, but each song seems to just 'fit.'

You wanna jump in and just race? No problem. There's one disc just for you. The Arcade mode has a disc of its own and allows you to do just that. How does it compare to other bread-and-butter arcade racing games? Pretty damn sweet. Some may prefer a Need for Speed title over GT2 for pure arcade racing, but it's really sort of a toss-up. The vehicle dynamics are truer in GT2. However, where Gran Turismo 2 really shines is its Simulation mode.

The Simulation mode of Gran Turismo 2 is ultra-realistic. You start with (a measly) $10,000 to purchase a car. That limits you considerably, but there are some dealerships that have used cars for sale as well. You can then build your finances by winning (or losing) races, and then putting the money towards improving your car or buying new ones. Even the smallest upgrades can affect the performance of your car, so choose carefully.

The only part about Gran Turismo 2that really bothers me is the Replay mode. I realize that the graphics in GT2 are great, but I don't see the need for EVERY race to be followed by an instant replay. I watched it the first few times, then just clicked out of it. But after playing for a bit, it begins to be quite bothersome... especially when obtaining licenses. Can anyone tell me why I would want to watch my car drive down a straightaway for a long distance and then come to a stop? I didn't think so. If you had the original GT, don't erase your saved games - your licenses can be converted, saving much time and suffering. If you find that you just can't seem to get ahead, check out 'Da Geck0's Drivin' School - GT2: 101', coming soon... I got a few tips that might help you out.

This time around, Gran Turismois a little more everything. That includes a little more difficulty, or perhaps I should say realistic. Driving at high speeds is not an easy task and GT2 proves it. It is, however, a skill which can be mastered with practice. Of course, there are lots of 'outs' that make it reasonable. There are special events where you race only against cars like yours, accessible by going to the dealership. If this interests you, check what cars are supported before buying one. If the car you want doesn't have this type of race, no biggie, there are still some fairly easy races you can run in. Plus - it doesn't cost to enter, and there are prizes for every place. That means that all you have to do is finish and you'll win something. Then, you can use that money to upgrade your car... slowly.

Gran Turismo 2 is a bit difficult. You won't just breeze through it. But, if you like racing, this means you'll have hours and hours of gameplay. (And, if you find it REALLY difficult, you might need to start over with a better car. I would highly recommend the... whoops! You'll need to check out my Drivin' School for that. If you need that info, you'll probably be helped by the rest of it as well...)

Game Mechanics:
One of the first things that HAS to be mentioned is the fact that Gran Turismo 2 is TWO separate games. First, the Arcade mode disc is a stand-alone game, and the Simulation mode is too. If you only like one or the other, you'll never need the other disc. Second, the number of vehicles you can choose from is staggering (read 'great') and look good. The graphics engine is excellent, and there are lots of cars to show off. The physics of the game are extremely realistic, as they were in the original Gran Turismo, and if anything, seem to be more 'detailed, meaning that you can adjust the handling and performance more finely than before. This also means that the slightest difference in angle and speed can greatly improve your performance in a curve.

Also, this time out, Gran Turismo 2has attempted to take on a couple of specialty racing genres. Not only does it have a superb Simulation mode, and an Arcade mode that rivals other arcade-style racing games, but GT2 also has some specialty races that others have made entire games about... such as the 'Beetle Challenge,' available from the VW dealership if you buy a Beetle, and the Rally races, available in Arcade mode, or if you buy Dirt Tires in Simulation mode. Unbelievable! Finally, if you were an avid GT fan, you can convert your licenses and save the task of doing them over. Nice.

Gran Turismo 2 is the sequel that actually improves on the ground-breaking, previously unparalleled Gran Turismo... and then some. The only thing I could gripe about is the 'forced' replays. You don't have to watch them, but they're going to at least start.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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