Gran Turismo 5 is a mere three months and a week away from release. While that may be longer than some of you would like, it looks like it’ll be worth the wait with its thousands of cars and numerous, intricate features. But the legacy didn’t get this way by itself. Over the years, several great Gran Turismo games have come out, solidifying the series as a must-play for driving enthusiasts everywhere.
So, with that, we’re jumping back into history and naming our top five favorite Gran Turismo games thus far. Now, we’re not counting tech demos like Gran Turismo HD, which came out for the PlayStation Network sometime ago. We’re also not counting Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, because, as great as it is, the full game will be even better. Nope, we’re naming the others, ranking from number five to number one. So let’s count ‘em down!
5. Gran Turismo (PlayStation Portable)
Originally announced as Gran Turismo 4 Mobile way back in 2005, Gran Turismo for the PlayStation Portable took its sweet time coming out. Screenshots were leaked, features were discussed, but there was literally no sign of the game – until October 1, 2009, when Sony finally released it to a long-awaiting public. The game lived up to most of its reputation with realistic racing, 45 tracks and even some driving tips with Tonight Show’s Jay Leno. However, it’s ranked number five for a reason, and that’s because the game doesn’t include any sort of career mode or car upgrade option. That said, it’s still one of the best portable racing games out there, and you can get it for around $20-$30 these days. Not a bad deal.
4. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec (PlayStation 2)
When the PlayStation 2 arrived in the U.S. in late 2000, we knew it would only be a matter of time before SCEA brought its racing series to the (then) next generation. And so, on July 10, 2001, it hit our shores, and the reaction to its realism was, at the time, very impressive. Players couldn’t believe their eyes climbing behind the wheel of their favorite cars, racing on a whole new level than they were used to on the old PS One. The all-star soundtrack and variety of tracks and cars helped make the driving action that much more addictive. No wonder many websites consider it one of the best PS2 games ever. But, we can think of a better one, and you’ll see it later on this list.
3. Gran Turismo (PlayStation)
The series had to get its start somewhere, and that’s exactly what happened way back in 1997. Game designer Kazunori Yamauchi worked closely with his team at Polyphony Digital to create a driving simulator unlike any other, and, at the time of the 32-bit gaming revolution (where Final Fantasy VII and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night were born), he managed to get it done. Gran Turismo was unmatched compared to the competition, outclassing the likes of Ridge Racer Type 4 and others to easily take the lead in the driver field. It has sold nearly four million copies in the U.S. alone, creating another hit franchise for Sony and helping to make it what it is today. And we’re pretty sure GT 5 will repeat the feat – and then some – this November.
2. Gran Turismo 4 (PlayStation 2)
If Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec was the warm-up mode on the PS2, then Gran Turismo 4 was no doubt the main event. Featuring over 700 cars to choose from across 80 manufacturers and 51 tracks all across the world, the sequel also featured A-Spec and B-Spec game modes, depending on your class of driving, along with missions and a new photo mode, where you could take dream snapshots of your game in action. Sure, it didn’t have online play in itself, but a special online test version enabled some select players to try it out. Plus, the graphics easily blew us away this time around, even outdoing the work that A-Spec did. There’s no question that this is the definitive driving experience for the PS2. If you haven’t snagged it yet, do so. NOW.
1. Gran Turismo 2 (PlayStation)
There’s always a stepping stone to a series, and if we really had to pick one for Polyphony Digital’s racing saga, it would definitely have to be Gran Turismo 2. The company went the extra mile, literally, by introducing over 600 cars in the game, along with rally circuits, better visuals and fast, smooth gameplay. It really defined what racing should be, even on the primitive PlayStation. Even with the controversial 98 percent problem that plagued original releases of the game, it was still a far better racer than most of the PS One glut that came out at the time. We’re hoping that, someday, Polyphony will consider a high-def version for this generation. But even if we don’t get it, we’ll always have memories of this edition. May they never fade…