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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So in Gran Turismo 3, it takes a lot of racing to get to the point where you are no longer concerned with making money to buy faster or race-specific cars. Not until one has international licenses and is racing in professional class does one really have to stop worrying about the cash accounts. In Gran Turismo 4, money is a complete non-issue. Do the one-time GT3 transfer of 100k, buy a fast car, spend a few grand to tune it up, go into b-spec mode for manufacturer races, and in 15 minutes you have a quarter million credits. Wash, rinse, repeat. My primary RWD platform for the next sixty-three minutes of game play, in about thirty minutes of effort, is a fully-tuned M3 GT-R. It rocks the Nurburgring. Now I just need to figure out what series lets me win the McLaren race car.

The Internet has me one better and describes an 8-minute money pump to produce 875,000 each cycle with a Mercedes race car. b-spec eliminated any sense of monetary accomplishments, and instead restored the focus to racing again … there certainly is no need/incentive to cheat since the ability to generate money is built in. To a certain extent I appreciate that, but to a certain extent is sort of kills the whole “work hard to get more money to buy a faster car” aspect of the game. Oh yeah, and 5000 credits for a bottle of nitrous that refills itself for free? That’s a pretty nice (if unrealistic for road racing) touch to add to the game. Really handy for jumping to the front of the pack in the first stretch of the race, and making up for that turn you take to hot that lands you in the gravel trap. Well, that and being able to break fresh rubber loose in fourth gear…

Other than that, I wish there was a way to change the map settings so it shows a localized portion of the track, rather than the track in its entirety. On a 1-mile beginner loop, the whole track display is fine, but on the Nurburgring, about the only detail that is useful is that you can tell when the back straight is coming up, so you know you can safely bust into sixth gear and stop worrying about driving for fifteen more full-out seconds. One day, after several thousand laps, I will know the ring by memory, but for now it’s just a hundred blind corners, and a close-up map would really help things.

Finally, I still wish you could bind a button or set of buttons to control various things about a car; since I have the racing wheel, I only have three additional buttons bound; one each for reverse, hand brake, and bottle. Oh, and some stuff to change the view that I never use. Why can’t they allow you to bind a couple of toggle buttons on the controller, and use the D-pad for range settings? For example, it would be really cool if one could do any of the following:

  • Bind a button to a stability management toggle
  • Bind a button on the controller to toggle ABS
  • Bind a button to a traction control/launch control toggle (or a setting cycle to achieve this; the TCS settings I want for launch are a lot different than the settings I want for normal driving.
  • Bind an axis on the D-pad to control brake bias; this would be handy for changing tire wear; real race cars are not static creatures that have a single ideal brake balance.
  • Bind an axis on the D-pad to control variable center differentials in AWD cars, or generalized differentials for that matter (and/or electronically adjustable final drive ratios and the like); this sort of thing would be really handy for courses that have one segment consisting of long sweeping curves, and an infield section with tight hairpins and the like.

If nothing else, emulating the configuration on the F430 would be something – a toggle that lets you cycle through a selection of pre-set handling characteristics, such as “I am God” mode where all electronic aides are disabled, “I want to spend most of my time sideways” mode where there’s just enough assistance to let you make a fool of yourself, and an “I’m reading a book while I’m driving” where one lets the various computers do a lot of the work for you. I think this makes a lot of sense, in that when you are trying to fight through a pack of similarly matched cars, versus when you have wide open stretches and a comfortable gap between yourself and the pack, one might want the way the car is tuned to be different. This is the reason why modern race cars have the ability to toggle all of this sort of stuff from the steering wheel. I recognize this shouldn’t be an option on the 1930’s Volvo, but why can’t it be included as a tuner option, at bare minimum?