Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Tourist Trophy

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Electronic Theatre ImageThe release of Gran Turismo for the PlayStation in 1997 spearheaded a revolution in Driving games. Instead of the traditional Arcade style of Racers like OutRun, Gran Turismo strived  to produce the most realistic console driving experience ever made, as stated by its subtitle; The Real Driving Simulator. This switch proved extremely popular, allowing Gran Turismo to become the biggest selling game for the PlayStation, shipping over ten million copies. Since then the series has been synonymous with PlayStation hardware and maintained a high pedigree through its lifetime. Although the most recent title in the series, Gran Turismo 4, features a few motorcycles, four-wheeled vehicles are really what the Gran Turismo series is all about. However, that does not mean PolyPhony Digital have anything against motorcycles, and their Gran Turismo-based Motorcycle Simulator, Tourist Trophy, is hoping to revolutionise the Motorcycle Racing genre in the same way the original Gran Turismo did. Unfortunately for PolyPhony Digital, this time around the competition is much fiercer, with the praised MotoGP series already a favourite with bike fans.

Tourist Trophy is laid out very similarly to the Gran Turismo series. Players may choose between Electronic Theatre ImageArcade Mode and Tourist Trophy Mode, with the latter being very similar to Gran Turismo Mode. Tourist Trophy Mode allows players to undertake Licence Tests, race competitively, buy motorcycles and tune and test them. Races are unlocked as the player passes Licence Tests involving braking, cornering and the  other necessary skills required to ride a motorcycle. Passing the simpler Licences allows entry to the lower-speed Races whereas the harder and more rewarding are only available to gamers that pass the higher difficulty Licences. This scheme gives a good sense of progression, allowing players to familiarise themselves with the realistic handling of the many bikes available. Winning Competitions earns the player special bikes, whereas regular bikes are earned through Challenges in which the player must beat an AI Rider on the desired bike. Over one-hundred-and-twenty bikes are available from many major manufacturers including Kawasaki and Honda and have been meticulously created as exact replicas, a feature bike fans will no doubt relish. Bikes can be tuned through gear ratios, parts and riding style. Although basic tuning options are available and you can change how the Rider actually rides, the system is in no way as extensive as in the Gran Turismo series, a little disappointing for the true petrol heads. The customisation options are also limited, with only a few parts on offer for each bike, although the Rider Customisation has many possibilities.

Once on the Track the title proves its heritage. Bikes handle realistically and you will appreciate your time playing through the Licences, as riding a 250cc motorcycle around a Race Track as fast as possible requires a much better understanding of racing techniques than a car would, as the possibility of falling-off and earning a Electronic Theatre Image Time Penalty is always likely, even with Driving Aids. Tourist Trophy does, however, give a great sense of speed that really keeps the player on their toes. The opponent AI behaves just as it does in PolyPhony Digital’s earlier Racers, the use of an almost flawless racing line that can only be overcome by tuning options or a high level of skill.

Tourist Trophy is graphically on par with the latest iteration of its sister series. All bikes are realistically modelled and the replays are very polished, with animation fluid throughout. Circuits are also nicely detailed, although unfortunately all but one are recycled from the Gran Turismo series. The sound effects vary greatly for the bikes, yet more attention to detail from PolyPhony Digital. Music is of a similar style to Gran Turismo, mostly comprised of Indie tracks and Dance Remixes.

Although it may lack some tuning options, Tourist Trophy is undoubtedly a good title for bike fans. The attention is detail is very good and bikes handle as realistically as you could expect from a console release. Unfortunately for those inexperienced in riding Superbikes, Tourist Trophy can be difficult to pick-up-and-play; however the intense sense of speed does make practicing a rewarding experience. Not quite MotoGP ‘06, but definitely a title worthy of its heritage.Electronic Theatre Image

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