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First things first. I LOVE the GT series, and have owned every single one since the original launched back in 1997. So naturally, I had to get this one for my PSP. But boy did I have to wait. It was meant to come out back when the PSP launched in 2005, however various factors meant it didn't come along until midway through 2009. Was it worth waiting 4 and a half years? Well, yes and no.
First off, overall this is the Gran Turismo we all know and love, but condensed. Most of the cars and tracks have been directly ported from Gran Turismo 4, which at the time was the best game in the series. It also added a few new cars, including for the first time, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti. Which was great, I've been waiting for Ferrari to appear in a GT game ever since the 1997 original game.
Actually driving the cars in the game is traditional GT; it's simple enough that any idiot could pick it up and get going within a few minutes. X to accelerate, Square to brake, and left/right on either the d-pad or analog stick to turn. If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, you can turn the manual gearbox on, making it that little bit trickier/more realistic.
Now the bad bits. True GT freaks like me tended to adjust every aspect of the car on the console versions (suspension, gearbox etc), but in this scaled down for PSP version, it's not really possible. Yes, a couple of sliders can adjust power and weight by up to 20% either way, but the idea with the console versions was you could adjust everything to make your car handle perfectly. But this is designed to appeal more to the casual gamer than the hardcore fan base, and is designed to be played on the go, so it's understandable they omitted full adjustment, but no less annoying.
The biggest gripe I have, along with many of the magazines that reviewed it on release, is the lack of career mode, like the console versions had. You still earn in game money to buy cars, but it feels more arcade mode-like than the full blown career mode in the console GT games. This meant I got bored fairly easily, and returned to play Vice City Stories, an older but more fun game.
Next up, a minor issue, but you only get 4 manufacturers to choose from for every 3 game days (as before, 1 day in game=1 race), and after 3 days/races, it changes to another 4 manufacturers. I much preferred the old way, which thankfully was returned to in GT5, where all the manufacturers are there all the time.
All in all, it's not a bad game, but could be much improved. Actually driving on the game is so simple that a complete beginner can get up to speed in very little time. But a lack of career mode makes it a bit boring if I'm honest. I'm sure that the next handheld version will be much improved, however it'll probably be on the Vita, so time to save up!