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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gran Turismo is a racing simulation game, and that it encourages players to drive carefully and with precision. That said, high speed collisions do occur, and the game doesn’t accurately depict the dire consequences of forceful accidents, which could lead younger players, who have yet to learn how to drive, to believe that crashes aren’t all that serious. Parents should also be aware that this is a highly commercial game, featuring more than 800 licensed cars and billboard and decals showing recognizable brands such as Exxon and Italia.
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What's it about?
With GRAN TURISMO Sony has finally brought its beloved console-based racing simulation franchise to the PlayStation Portable. Like its big brothers, it’s loaded with more than 800 licensed cars and 35 real-world tracks (over 60 if you count the mirrored circuits), and features scores of driving challenges that teach players how to do things like take advantage of slipstreams, handle tricky chicanes, and safely overtake competitors. Outside of the challenges, players can enter one-off quick races against a trio of computer controlled opponents, enter time trials on the tracks of their choice, and go up against up to three other players in local wireless multiplayer (there is no online play).
Is it any good?
Gran Turismo is just OK. What’s in the game is terrific -- the selection of cars is second to none and they handle splendidly -- even without the force feedback found in the console editions. However, Gran Turismo is missing some key features, like the ability to purchase upgrades and improve car performance. Even more noticeable is the absence of any sort of career mode. Without these elements, the races seem somewhat pointless. You can earn money and buy cars, but without some sort of grander aspiration -- like building up a supercar or winning a particular series of races -- it’s easy to get bored and lose focus.
The most compelling reason to keep playing, it turns out, is to build up your garage so that you can transfer it over to Gran Turismo 5 for PlayStation 3 when it releases next year. But buying a full-priced game as a way to prepare for an as-yet unreleased game is a bit lame -- especially since fans of the franchise have already done this once before when they picked up Gran Turismo 5: Prologue for PlayStation 3 last year. That part is disappointing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the sport of race car driving. Many have died and been seriously injured while racing in legal, sanctioned races. Why do you think people are drawn to such a dangerous pastime? Does it appeal to you? Is the source of the attraction the cars, the excitement, or the possibility of fame and fortune?
Families can also discuss the difference between crashes seen in this game and crashes in real life. The likelihood of anyone driving -- much less walking -- away from a 200-mile-per-hour collision is low. Why do you think the game’s designers, who seem so focused on delivering a realistic driving experience, decided not to depict the game’s crashes with equal authenticity.
Families with teens who are just learning to drive might want to pay attention to a study that suggests that playing some racing games can lead to taking more driving risks in real life.
For kids who love fast-paced games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.