Polyphony Digital. One of the most legendary game studios of all time and full of petrol loving rev heads. When Gran Turismo was released in 1995, it was hard to predict the impact the game would have on the racing genre forever and with four under their belt, PD is well equipped to move to the next generation and produce a successful PS3 game. However before that there is Tourist Trophy, a somewhat offshoot of the popular GT series, TT gives you the chance to play a GT style game except with bikes. PD have applied their crazy level of detail to the game, but for some reason it just doesn't stack up to GT4, despite being a very impressive title.
As with GT there are two main game modes - arcade racing and the Tourist Trophy. The arcade mode pretty much gives you the option to take some of the world's most expensive and exclusive bikes on some of the world's most popular bike tracks. It is worth giving this mode a play first as PD have reduced the physics in this mode as expected, and you can get away with a lot more than in the trophy mode. This is then split into either a one on one race, a normal race or time trial.
The main mode of course is the tourist trophy mode which replicates so much of GT, that if it wasn't a PD game, it would be plagiarism. Basically you begin by gaining your novice license and continuing a trend of the last few GT games, the license test has become much easier than in the original GT. There are multiple licenses to gain, but they aren't completed until further into the game. Once this is done its time to choose a bike and get racing.
As you would expect with a Polyphony Digital game there is a multitude of licenses included from a wide variety of manufacturers. The problem with the bikes is one which has followed on from GT. There is a bunch that you just won't ever want to ride, unless you own one and want to compare to the real world. As well as this, the differences in bikes are not as pronounced as it is with car. Generally they look much the same with the only difference being the performance. Of course in a game like Tourist Trophy, this is to be expected but for the casual gamer, this may come as a disappointment. However if you like bikes more than cars, then this is the game for you. In fact the whole crux of whether you will enjoy this game very much revolves around how interested in motorbikes you are in real life.
You can of course tune the bikes as well but there are a few disappointments with the game, the first being a complete lack of damage. Again this was to be expected but for manufacturers of bikes to expect us to believe you can hit a wall at 200km/hr on their bikes and bounce is ridiculous. Also while the physics and performance of the bikes are second to none, it takes a lot to actually lose your mount. The amount of times we high sided and managed to pull out of it was, quite frankly, ridiculous.
Another disappointment is the tracks. While PD have included one of the most famous tracks in Motegi, they have also resorted to using a lot of the Gran Turismo 4 tracks in Tourist Trophy which allowed them to get the game out quicker but also comes as a disappointment. However what it has allowed us to do is directly compare GT vs Tourist Trophy, and the result in general was positive. The tracks you will find from GT include New York and others. From an Australian perspective it was disappointing to not see Phillip Island, widely regarded as one of, if not the best motorbike racing track in the world due to its picturesque island setting amongst other qualities.
The visuals are also disappointing compared to GT. While GT features shiny models of some of the world's most expensive cars, Tourist Trophy goes back a little and includes fairly grainy graphics. The bikes however are individually modeled to near perfection and there are a few things which demonstrate just how much effort PD put in. For instance, when starting TT mode it asks how tall the rider is. This is so the game can calculate the physics in terms of the bike staying up right or sliding out from under the rider when taking a corner. The tracks are also detailed but nothing has been really added since the GT4 tracks. Sound effects are of course almost perfect with each bike featuring a unique, realistic sound.
Tourist Trophy is an interesting foray into the motorcycle market for Polyphony Digital but does come up a little short in areas where GT4 excelled and while it is their first bike game, PD pride themselves on producing excellent games. With one eye on GT for PS3 its easy to see why Tourist Trophy is not as good as GT4 but considering this is the game that bike fans would have been hanging out for, its a shame that it doesn't live up to its older brother.