I'm a long-time fan of the Gran Turismo series, but primarily of the fourth one, as that's the only one I've played extensively, and only having played the second out of the others. I'm a big racing games fan, and there was always a wealth of things to do in them. I recently decided to play the first, hoping to play (if not beat) them in order.
Gran Turismo was released in 1997 after 5 years of development - which puts Gran Turismo 5's extended development into perspective. It was the first proper 'realistic' racing game for a home console and was highly rated and sold millions, and spawned the series we all know and love today. Going back to it has been quite strange, as not a lot changed in the years and sequels between 1 and 4.
As always, there's two modes, Arcade and Simulation, but honestly, who bothers with the arcade mode in GT? I didn't even bother going into the mode to check the options. Upon entering sim mode, it's pretty clear that the developers took an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" view of the menu. It's a set of icons placed on a rudimentary map, with a garage, an icon for the licences, races, a carwash (I never quite figured out why that was needed) and the various car manufacturers.
It quickly became evident that I'd need a license to do much of anything. There were cups (that all needed a license), special races (that needed a high license), time trials (that needed a good car) and practice tracks (which are the only thing you can race on without a license). So, I hied myself to the license tracks and set about getting me a B License.
Which was another "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The license was almost exactly the same as the license from 4, except two shorter. I managed to get golds on almost all of them without breaking a sweat because I've done them so many times already. Most of the trials are exactly the same. Lazy or what?
With my shiny new license I had a nose around the cars and came out with a spunky little Audi. It's a little slidey, but it's adequate for the Sunday Cup. The races were standard Gran Turismo fare, go fast, try not to crash, stay out of the way of the AI because they will bash you off the road as if you weren't there. What annoyed me was that I didn't get enough cash to get a better car to do the second set of races. Sure, I needed a higher license than the one I have, but you don't get any money for doing them, so I'd need to do the Sunday Cup a few times over. Which is my pet hate about the Gran Turismo games. To do anything, you need to race the same few races over and over to get enough cash to get a car good enough for the next set of races. It's almost like they have no idea how to increase a game longevity. (Not that the games are lacking for things to do anyway!)
For now I'm enjoying it, but we'll see after I've gone through the first cup four times over. Still, I suppose real-life racing is about going around the same few tracks over and over, so perhaps it is the most 'real' simulation of the lot!