Gran Turismo's world famous physics simulation returns, with a wide variety of cars and track types (dirt, snow, race track) to pit your wits against.
There are a range of driving challenges to complete, aswell as a host of different AI difficulties to take on over the game's comprehensive race track directory.
Gran Turismo PSP has no real campaign element to speak of, thus the open-ended nature of the gameplay will last as long as you want it to. Unlocked car collections can be transferred over to Gran Turismo 5, making unlocked vehicles all the more valuable. There's also the ability to trade cars and embark in multiplayer sessions via ad-Hoc connectivity.
Gran Turismo PSP has better constructed car models than some Playstation 3 games. Hyperbole this is not. Sure, in terms of raw textures the cars can't compete with the consoles, but in sheer attention to detail, Gran Turismo PSP is breath-taking. Cars look frighteningly close to their real-life counterparts — which, when you consider there are 800 available, is mind blowing.
Gran Turismo PSP can only render four cars to each and every race. This has its own downside when it comes to actually playing the game, but from the technical side it's a brilliant decision. See, not content with looking better than most console games, Gran Turismo PSP actually performs better too, running at an eye-watering 60 frames per second. What this means is that the gameplay is unbelievably smooth - rarely dropping a frame. Some of the AI controlled cars will blur as you move around corners, but it's a small price to pay for a stable frame rate.
Despite the series' famous "ping-pong" physics when connecting with other cars, Gran Turismo PSP is every inch a racing simulator. Cars feel connected to the road and control exactly as you'd expect. The game can at times lack a sense of speed, but aside from that, the performance of the cars feel immaculately crafted.
With the news that Gran Turismo PSP connects to Gran Turismo 5, much of GTPSP's grinding structure can be forgiven. Essentially spending your time in this game earns you credits and cars that will eventually become part of your fleet in Gran Turismo 5. And that makes playing the Nurburgring 10 times over to be able to afford the Zonda mostly worthwhile.
Gran Turismo PSP is a bit like a sticker-book. You plough time into playing the game and you're rewarded with credits which earn you cars. Of course, the best way to collect all the cars is by making deals with friends and trading your car collection, something that GTPSP handles very well via ad-Hoc.
Aside from a few ten second driving challenges, there's no real meat to Gran Turismo PSP's gameplay. You can complete each track against a series of different AI competitors, participate in some scoreboard-less time trials or complete a few drift challenges and - that's your lot. The open-ended structure of the game requires a lot of "make your own fun" type scenarios, which go largely unrewarded by the game. It's all rather disappointing in terms of actual game modes — it's almost like Polyphony forgot to actually build a game around the content.
Races can get rather tiresome in Gran Turismo PSP when you're confronted by largely stupid AI that stick to the raceline regardless of what other cars on the track are doing. You're far too aware you're racing robots, and that's disappointing. The fact that only four cars can be rendered on the track largely accounts for some pretty dull races too. Especially on massive tracks like the Nurburgring.
There's a collection of tunes on Gran Turismo PSP that will drive you literally half insane. They're so annoying and repetitive. Thankfully, after a few hours with the game you'll unlock the ability to import MP3's stored on the PSP's memory card, ensuring bearable music while circuiting the game's tracks.
ad-Hoc multiplayer enables four-play multiplayer race sessions. These are fairly simple affairs, with the gameplay balanced via a delayed start mechanic. Multiplayer is preferable to playing against the game's AI, but the lack of online is disappointing.
It's impossible to describe Gran Turismo PSP as a bad game. There's the over-riding impression that in bringing Gran Turismo to the PSP, Polyphony Digital forgot to make an actual game around it. Ironically though, flawed as it is, Gran Turismo PSP still stands heads and shoulders above most other PSP titles. It's disappointing to the degree of what might have been, but still stellar in many regards.