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And this unparalleled feel is complemented by a higher-class of audio and visuals than the first could offer. OK, so GTR 2 is still a bit of a ‘Plain Jane’ in comparison to Project Gotham Racing 3 – let alone the glimpses we’ve had of Forza 2 and Gran Turismo HD – and, yes, it’s also true that it’s low on background eye candy. Yet the cars look gorgeous, the look is clean and precise, there are some lovely lighting effects and the textures are much richer and shinier this time around. The cockpit view, meanwhile, is fantastic, with masses of interior detail on display and a camera that throws you all over the place in quite sickening fashion as you tear around the track. Play on a big monitor, and you can really feel that you’re slap bang in the middle of the race.
In fact, double that if you’re listening through decent speakers or headphones, as the audio is up there with Forza or TOCA Race Driver 3 in the immersion stakes. The boom, scream and splutter of eight engines is mildly terrifying in the early competitions. Multiply that up to 37 in the full championship and you have a delirious racket that will be music to the ears of the motorsports fan.
There are still areas here that need some work. The interface is slightly ugly and horribly confusing, to the point that it threatens to undo some of the good work and put newcomers off. There’s also a feeling that, without the “buy cars to win races to earn money to buy cars” dynamic that has always made Gran Turismo so compelling long-term, you’re left with only the occasional unlocked car on completion and the lure of a championship win to keep you playing, though the online play should keep your interest. Finally, I’d have to say that, if you only want to dip your toe into the motorsports water, TOCA Race Driver 3, while less sophisticated and slightly worse looking, is actually a more welcoming and varied package.
But all of these things pale into insignificance against what Simbin has achieved here: GTR 2 is one of the three best driving sims on the market, and a game that almost anyone can enjoy. Isn’t that something PC racers should be more than proud of?
GTR gave the PC an answer to Gran Turismo, now GTR 2 makes that answer fun to play. One of the three best driving sims on any platform.