Why Gran Turismo 4 is the series’ peak, so far…

Thomas Harrison-Lord
Gran Turismo 4 is the best Gran Turismo game, so far. This is according to our recent poll, where an overwhelming majority voted for it. Here’s why.
Why Gran Turismo 4 is the series' peak, so far...

Across six numbered releases, nine additional spin-off titles and legions of fans growing up enthusing about bewinged Subarus, the best mainline Gran Turismo game is the fourth instalment. 

At least, that’s according to our recent poll, where over 41 per cent of Traxion.GG readers placed Gran Turismo 4 as the all-time greatest. 

While we accept this is far from a definitive reckoning, the winning margin was colossal, with thousands of you voting for the 2004/5 opus to car culture. 

It received more than double the number of votes of second-placed Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec. 

Gran Turismo 4, Grand Canyon, Mitsubishi Evo VII rally car

In many ways, Gran Turismo 4 was a pioneer. It showed that you could have a varied car list, from the world’s first-ever car all the way through to a Tommy Kaira supercar and have distinct handling characteristics for every inclusion. 

The level of track detail is still ahead of some contemporary releases and the photo mode set an image sharing trend before social media took off. 

It was having your virtual cake and eating it, as the quantity was quality. 

But it also arrived late and without an online mode. Oops. 

Perhaps why most look upon it so fondly was the depth to the single-player experience.

Yes, there were the licence tests and the inimitable progression style, but they were combined with a significant increase in real-world based content plus the wackiness of GT Auto and B-Spec mode. 

Gran Turismo 4, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII MR

“This is my favourite Gran Turismo game because its depth is unmatched,” explained Davin Cornelius, aka DriveThrough. 

“Winning the Gran Turismo World Championship and unlocking the Extreme Events was simply impossible for me to complete as a child. I’ve been playing this game on and off for 17 years and I still have so many championships to race. 

“For example, simply getting on the starting grid of the Formula Gran Turismo championship and its 20 full-length Formula 1 races requires players to win a 24-hour endurance race. Yes, a full 24 hours of gameplay was expected of gamers in 2005. That’s how deep the GT4 career goes. 

“Whenever I can finally reach 100 per cent career completion, it will truly be the completion of a lifetime goal.” 

Gran Turismo 4, Costa Di Amalfi, BMW M5

That sense of accomplishment was also matched with ownership. 

“I will never forget winning my first ‘valuable’ car in Gran Turismo 4,” explained Traxion.GG content creator John Munro. 

“It was the Costa Di Amalfi special event and I won it in my souped-up Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R. 

“At this stage, I had never owned a car worth more than 30 or 40,000 credits, so when I discovered my prize was a Toyota RSC Rally Raid – worth over 250,000 credits – I was more than a little excited. 

“What did I do with it? Sell it and buy a much less sensible TVR Cerbera Speed 12 of course…” 

Gran Turismo 4, Chrysler Crossfire, Las Vegas

This exemplifies the grind within Gran Turismo 4. But, because the tracks were so plentiful and varied, it never really felt like a drag – you were always striving for the next best thing, and you had to really earn it. 

For several hours you were stuck with a slow vehicle, but the customisation options and challenges set on shorter tracks kept you occupied. 

“I started out with a black Mazda MX-5 from the used car dealership that I picked up for around 10,000 credits, but it was my second car that I am still attached to more than any other car in any other racing game,” continued John. 

“It was that 1991 Nissan I’d used to win my first valuable prize. Being a bit wet behind the ears at the time, I stuck a massive and completely unnecessary wing on the back to compliment the garish BBS rims I had also purchased.” 

“However, the sentimental value meant I never traded that car for any other, not even one worth millions of credits.” 

Gran Turismo 4, Pescarolo

The game’s pacing was one thing, but its vastness was quite another. 

“Gran Turismo 4 was the game that set the bar for all the following Gran Turismo release for me,” highlighted Traxion.GG contributor Nick Saunders. 

“Just compare the home screen of Gran Turismo 4 with the home screen in Gran Turismo 7 to see the similarities.” 

It’s a good point, and when the first Gran Turismo 7 trailer proudly said ‘Gran Turismo is back’, many of us were clearly thinking of the fourth instalment. 

Gran Turismo is Back

“The real-world tracks featured were the stuff of dreams as I got to experience many of them for the first time in a game. 

“The likes of Circuit de la Sarthe, Tsukuba (ok, that was in GT4 Prologue first, but its close enough), Suzuka, Twin Ring Motegi and the granddaddy that is the Nordschleife were all introduced to the series through Gran Turismo 4. 

“The first time I tried to make it round the German epic I was totally lost and kept spinning off or whacking barriers, but now after many years I’m pleased to say that I actually know the track, mostly 

“That hasn’t changed the outcome of ending up in the walls/grass all that much, however, whenever it wins the track vote in a GT Sport lobby…” 

Gran Turismo 4, Paris, Night, Peugeot 206 CC

The fêted and decried – in equal measure – Nordschleife had appeared in games such as Project Gotham Racing 3 before the fourth Gran Turismo, but it was the latter that managed to bottle the daunting essence of the Eifel venue. 

“My overriding memory of Gran Turismo 4, though, is not even about the racing, but it was the soundtrack. If I hear any of the Daiki Kasho songs from this game, I am instantly transported back to that point in my life when I would just be sitting with my mates playing winner-stays-on via some split-screen action. Happy times.” 

It’s these memories – and the ‘wow’ factor – that Gran Turismo 7 must live up to, and that’s no mean feat. 

By focussing on the career mode again for the first time since the sixth numbered release in 2013, it’s easy to make comparisons with previous GT titles that many still hold dear. 

But, appeasing old(er) fans is one thing, I think what’s even more important is a whole new generation of younger gamers getting to grow up with the Gran Turismo series and that sense of achievement – something they’ve been missing now for several years. 

4th March 2022. No pressure Polyphony Digital, but let’s see if you can live up to the now over 17-year-old classic. 

The best Gran Turismo numbered release poll results 

  1. Gran Turismo 4 – 41.22% 
  2. Gran Turismo 3: A-Spec – 18.02% 
  3. Gran Turismo 5 – 12.24% 
  4. Gran Turismo 2 – 11.71% 
  5. Gran Turismo 6 – 10.29% 
  6. Gran Turismo – 6.53% 
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