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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gran Turismo Rallying

John Marine | 10:31 PM | | | |
Rally racing debuted in Gran Turismo 2 for the GT series. Rally racing is a different animal apart from the road racing in Gran Turismo games. Rallying allows you to get more aggressive and race a car a bit harder than you normally would in circuit racing. You can slide the car out hard to make the most out of handling tight and tricky corners. Almost as satisfying as taking on an intense set of corners is making serious jumps from hills.

What makes rally racing so fun is the fact that many courses and stages have been created by Mother Nature. So no worries about any Hermann Tilke-style snoozefests. Get ready for some of the most intense racing action among any discipline of Gran Turismo!

This blog post is merely a digest look at rally racing in Gran Turismo. I just talk about rally racing in Gran Turismo games rather than offer any advice. Enjoy your read and feel free to comment!

GT2 Rallying
^ Peugeot 206 Rally Car kicking up dust around Tahiti Dirt Route 3 in Gran Turismo 2.

Gran Turismo 2 Rallying.

The vision for Gran Turismo 2 was to have a more concentrated focus on the history of automobiles while also delivering a new experience of rally racing. Previously, Gran Turismo 1 featured the first-ever rally car in a Gran Turismo game as the Subaru Impreza Rally Car was featured. Subaru, along with a handful of other cars and car companies found their way into Gran Turismo 2 with rally cars. Two of my all-time favorite rally cars are in Gran Turismo 2- the Lancia Stratos and the Peugeot 206 WRC. Sadly, you can only really gain the 206 WRC while you have to do something to get the Stratos Rally Car (at least in Simulation mode).

To this day, Gran Turismo 2 remains the only title in the GT series to feature an open circuit- Pikes Peak (albeit an abbreviated Pikes Peak). Many fans of the Gran Turismo series would love to see Pikes Peak return. Also unique to Gran Turismo 2 was that all of the rally events were basically time trials (like real rally racing) rather than the one-on-one race battles in future GT titles. So one can say that Gran Turismo 2 delivered the best rally package of GT games past. With GT5 on the horizon, who knows what GT5 will provide?

The rally tracks of Gran Turismo 2 include Green Forest Raceway, Smokey Mountain South, Smokey Mountain North, Tahiti Dirt Route 3, Tahiti Maze, and Pikes Peak (uphill and downhill).

Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec Rallying.

As Gran Turismo 2 introduced its GT fans to rallying, Gran Turismo 3 continued the rallying style. A few new cars and a few new venues were added. A few new rally cars were available, but the notorious Escudo Pikes Peak returned bigger and badder than ever. With the rather weak trails of dust from Gran Turismo 2, Gran Turismo 3 allowed you to kick up more clouds of dust as you raced off-road.

Among the off-road tracks, Green Forest and Smokey Mountain South were axed. Smokey Mountain North (the better of the two in my opinion) is just Smokey Mountain. Tahiti Dirt Route 3 was renamed to Tahiti Circuit. The formidable challenge of Tahiti Maze returned for another tour of duty. The new challenge for rally racers was Swiss Alps. This track has some easy-going and smooth corners great for sliding out of control. There is even a bridge that is crossed during a lap around Swiss Alps.

If you want to consider it an off-road track, then Special Stage Route 5 Wet marks the first time an all-tarmac course is used in a rally environment. Four cars can race on Special Stage Route 5 Wet in Arcade Mode. In GT3's Simulation mode, however, you are on proper racing tires. Of course, there are no Rain tires. So you will be slipping and sliding on highways and streets trying to outduel the other driver.

Gran Turismo 4 Rallying.

Gran Turismo 4 offered many new experiences in rallying. For one, tarmac rallies are possible to race on. More importantly, the debut of racing on snow and ice were offered to GT racers. Those who have played Gran Turismo 2 may remember the Opel Tigra Ice Racing car. That car would have a happy home on one of this game's two snowy/icy courses- Ice Arena and Chamonix. A lot more modern and classic rally cars found their way into GT4, including the return of the Stratos Rally Car. It also was the first Gran Turismo to feature Paris-Dakar (or just Dakar nowadays) "cars." I say "cars" because the "cars" are mostly SUV-type machines. The Mitsubishi Pajero Evolution Rally Raid Car is a hulking beast taking on the various courses of GT4.

The first rally course we laid eyes upon in GT4's development was Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon offered the most realistic rally course in GT history with its narrow roads and tricky corners. It seemed near impossible to try to pass your opponent on a track like this. Cathedral Rocks was another new course utiziling El Capitan. There were some proper tarmac rally courses with Citta d'Aria and (my favorite) Costa di Amalfi. You can also race around George V Paris for a tricky tarmac stage utilizing beautiful Paris. If you want to call it a Rally course, then Tsukuba wet marked both the first wet real-world course and the first permanent circuit with wet characteristics.

As for the two icy courses, Ice Arena was nothing special. It was an alright course that you could use to basically prep your ice racing skills. The real nightmare was Chamonix. You go from some icy tarmac to taking on the snow-covered roads of Chamonix. It was a total nightmare, but nowhere near the Nürburgring Nordschleife (which I call the "Nürburgring Nightmare") in terms of complexity. Chamonix was one of the toughest rally courses to master of all off-road courses in GT4.

There is one last element to GT rallying in GT4- run into a wall hard or ram into your opponent in a Special Condition race, and you suffer a 10-second penalty bringing your car down to no more than 31 miles per hour. You almost have to use this strategically if you know you are losing. This was an alternative to damage rather than actually assessing fouls to racers in my view.

Using what all we know about rallying in GT games past, we look forward to what Gran Turismo 5 has to provide. Features such as Sebastien Loeb (7-time World Rally Champion) being a consultant for GT5 rallying and the prospect of randomly-generated rally courses across certain environments will mean interesting trends in rally racing in GT5. Of course, the Eiger Nordwand rally stages will only sweeten the pot apart from the Eiger Nordwand we've raced all the way back with Gran Turismo HD. So the sky is the limit for what this title will provide in rally racing. Also, Gran Turismo 5 features some lovely particle effects for rally racing. You see dust and grass realistically get kicked up. Also, cars collect dirt and snow. Cars can also roll over in GT5, making the rally racing element even more intense. If all goes well, Gran Turismo 5 could well feature the best rally racing in Gran Turismo history.

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