Saturday, June 4, 2011

Four Favorites of Gran Turismo

John Marine | 6/04/2011 11:39:00 PM | |
Of all Gran Turismo tracks, only four have appeared in all major Gran Turismo titles including Tourist Trophy: Grand Valley Speedway, Trial Mountain, Deep Forest, and Special Stage Route 5. Each have been favorites among Gran Turismo fans. This blog post is a salute to each of these courses and what I think makes them the finest courses to be featured in every major Gran Turismo. These are not necessarily my personal favorites, but favorites in the respect that no major GT has failed to feature these courses. That even includes all four of these courses being in Tourist Trophy as well as Gran Turismo PSP.

This post may seem like it is better suited to "John's Gran Turismo Space" than "John's Blog Space," but I am offering this post for JBS. Keep reading also for an update for me regarding my status of getting a PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5 as of the date of this blog post. You may already know what the announcement is if you read a recent post of mine here on JBS.

--- Gran Turismo's Four Favorites ---
Time to take a look at the four courses that have shown up in every major Gran Turismo. There are four of them because rallying wouldn't debut until Gran Turismo 2. To say that there are only four courses that have been in every major GT speaks to how much they have become favorites among GT fans. Some courses have shown up in other Gran Turismo games, and some others were excluded in other titles. Through it all, though, four have shown up in every major Gran Turismo as well as Tourist Trophy (which runs on GT4's engine). So let's take a look at the four tracks that I will call... the Four Favorites (or the Favorite Four):

Favorite Four of Gran Turismo
^ (ORIGINAL PICTURE CREDIT: Gran Turismo 2) All four of these tracks have appeared in every major Gran Turismo game, even including Tourist Trophy and Gran Turismo PSP. From left to right, top to bottom: Grand Valley Speedway, Trial Mountain, Deep Forest Raceway, and Special Stage Route 5.

All pictures from Gran Turismo 2's Arcade Mode disc.

As a sort of blogging cross-promotion, click on the headings to each post to visit my blog post on "John's Gran Turismo Space" to see my JGTS posts on these tracks. They are my own blog posts taking a deeper look at each course.

Grand Valley Speedway.

Grand Valley Speedway
^ (taken by me; also found on "John's Gran Turismo Space")

Grand Valley Speedway is the signature race track of Gran Turismo. It is a Grand Prix-type course unique to, and expressive of what Gran Turismo is all about. The many scenic views and challenging corners will push the limits of any racer who dares race it. Since its inception, Grand Valley has always been a formidable challenge for the Grand Prix racer. The Grand Valley 300km race is the signature endurance race of Gran Turismo. This 60-lap race around this course challenges the best of Gran Turismo racers. Of all races in Gran Turismo history, the Grand Valley 300km has been in all major Gran Turismo titles.

Grand Valley East has been featured in GT games, but hasn't been in every GT. That's why it hasn't been included in this blog post.

• WHY IS IT A FAVORITE (to me)? It is a favorite to me because it's Grand Valley. The character, flow, and appeal of Grand Valley make it absolutely classic. It is just too good of a challenge to pass up or disregard. Would you remove your signature race and track if it is so revered among fans? Well, why would PD remove Grand Valley Speedway?

Trial Mountain.

Trial Mountain
^ (taken by me; also found on "John's Gran Turismo Space")

"A road runs over this mountain," and this road will confound you and give you fits if you don't race it right. Trial Mountain has been a natural nightmare for many Gran Turismo racers. Its undulating roads, rock-faced mountain walls, and incredible high-speed sections make this course a total dream to race. Its natural beauty makes it a wonderful track that has made it formidable to race in every Gran Turismo title. It boasts qualities of both a temporary course and a rally course. The many sudden corners and undulations make Trial Mountain feel like a rally course. It feels more like a temporary course with all the blind corners and the somewhat limited runoff areas.

Trial Mountain has been raced on in the daytime in all of its appearances. There has never been a wet or an evening/night version of this course offered. I'd hate to imagine an evening or night version of a course this intense.

• WHY IS IT A FAVORITE (to me)? Trial Mountain presents a natural terrain challenge that is both unique and difficult. It unbalances your car and your nerves as you race it. The natural beauty of this course is incredible. As I mentioned before, it is also unique in that this course is like a rally course. The track is just truly unique.

Deep Forest Raceway.

Deep Forest Raceway
^ (taken by me; also found on "John's Gran Turismo Space")

Gran Turismo 1 mentioned this track as "experiencing racing through a forest." The roar of street cars and race cars around Deep Forest makes for intense racing around what seems to be the fastest forest you'll ever race through. The course began life as a track raced on under sunset conditions. Gran Turismo 3 was the last time this track was raced in sunset conditions, especially when raced in Reverse. The track remains tricky despite the many evolutions of the course. Sadly around Gran Turismo 4, Deep Forest had much fewer trees at certain parts of the track. There seemed to be even fewer trees with Gran Turismo 5's layout. Regardless, this track withstood the test of time even if many of the trees didn't. Deep Forest Raceway will perhaps fewer trees and even less forest in the next GT.

Surprisingly, Deep Forest is the only one of these four courses that has NEVER had any kind of endurance race in any of the major Gran Turismo titles. Maybe there were some environmental concerns or fears of wild animals getting on the road during an endurance. Hey... never know. I still want to imagine what night racing here would be like. You'd have to install flood lights to accurately show the way around Deep Forest.

• WHY IS IT A FAVORITE (to me)? When taking laps around Deep Forest Raceway, the appeal of high-speed racing through a forest is surely appealing. While it may not be a completely realistic forest, it still remains a lovely natural track with some challenging corners. I do wish the track had more trees as future versions of Deep Forest make it seem like its natural character is slowly being whittled away.

Special Stage Route 5.

Special Stage Route 5
^ (taken by me; also found on "John's Gran Turismo Space")

The only temporary course that has been in every GT is Special Stage Route 5. It is also the only night course featured. SSR5 has a distinction none of the other three aforementioned tracks can lay claim to- it is the only one to offer a wet race. Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec was the only time Special Stage Route 5 was offered as a wet course. You could race against four other cars in Arcade Mode and do a one-on-one race in Simulation Mode.

Over time, SSR5 would evolve continually. Gran Turismo 1 and Gran Turismo 2 are the same in appearance. The big difference was when SSR5 had PS2 power starting in Gran Turismo 3. Buildings were taller, and the city was lovelier. The track became challenging when you soak the track in rain water. There was no falling rain, but you do get to race on highways and streets after rain has passed in GT3. Gran Turismo 4's version took on more of an industrial tone with some buildings under construction along with a late evening setting. By far, Gran Turismo 5's version is the most beautiful. It is also the most believable representation of Special Stage Route 5. The nicest touch was the backstretch that included a little underpass along with trees decorated with lights once you come from out of the underpass.

Special Stage Route 11 was a come-and-go track that has shown up in GT1 and GT3. The debuting Special Stage Route 7 in GT5 is a much different experience that would be crazy to envision being part of any past GT. Clubman Stage Route 5 has been in every Gran Turismo except GT3, so that's why it wasn't included in this post.

• WHY IS IT A FAVORITE (to me)? A race on city streets or on highways at night has long been a staple of a good number of racing games. It's no different in Gran Turismo than it is in most other racing games. Why Special Stage Route 5 has been featured more than Special Stage Route 11 is beyond me. I've always considered SSR11 a more formidable challenge. SSR5, however, is not boring. It just seems like Special Stage Route 5 has been featured more and has endured longer than Special Stage Route 11 or the GT5 newbie Special Stage Route 7. GT5's version is the most beautiful version of SSR5 after seeing lots of videos online on it.

They are the four courses that have been in all major GT games including Tourist Trophy and even Gran Turismo PSP. Will they return for Gran Turismo 6 (or whatever the next GT will be called)? More than likely.

These four tracks showcase what is unique about creating original race tracks. There are people who feel that there should be much fewer original/fantasy courses and more real courses. Taking a chance with fictional courses only means you make courses and experiences unique to your game. Great ones, such as Grand Valley Speedway, end up becoming so liked that some people even make versions for PC games. It means that you've created a course so well-liked that people try to bring a track's experience into another racing game. It only adds to the track's appeal from the original game. Having said this, the Gran Turismo series has four grizzly veterans where many racers have logged miles/kilometers and miles/kilometers around each one.

--- My PlayStation 3 and Gran Turismo 5 Update ---
My Facebook friends and YouTube friends ask if I have my PlayStation 3 and/or GT5 yet. Well, if you're reading this blog post, here is my answer...

I don't have a PS3 and don't have GT5 as of the time of this post. However, I am moving very close towards finally getting both the system and the game. Please note that if I do post anything regarding GT5 (including videos), it's going to take some time. I want to be able to professionally gauge the scope of this game and make professional comments regarding Gran Turismo 5.

The reason why I've reserved any commentary on Gran Turismo 5 is because I do not want to make any comments on a game I haven't played. With the comments I make, I don't want to sell any of my readers short. Professionalism is the strongest suit of my blog and its post. I do not want to jeopardize the integrity of myself or my blog by providing material less than acceptable.

Just know that I am working towards finally getting and playing a PS3 and this game. Once I have everything and once I can make material to publish online, I will expand my content further than ever. You will see content posted here on John's Blog Space and especially on John's Gran Turismo Space.

So there you have it. My update.

Thank you for reading!

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