Toyota Prius Gran Turismo 4 Demo Review (Part 2)

Starting a Game

Once you select "Start" from the main menu, you are presented with the choice of 2 tracks:
Fuji Speedway will allow you to race with the Prius

Grand Canyon will only let you race as the Motor Triathlon Race Car

If you select Fuji Speedway, you can choose between the Prius or the Triathlon Car

Once you select the Prius you can choose its color

Then there are some final options before the race begins. I'm not quite sure what difference the various tires make.


In-Game Display

The in-race action looks like this. The screen tells what the hybrid system is doing, as well as giving your instantaneous mileage and how much gas you've burned so far.

There are indicators for the stability control and the parking brake

Here's how the screen indicates the activity of the hybrid system

Here's a peek at captures from a race replay:


So how does it play? Actually, not that well -- at least not when using the PS2's standard DualShock2 controller. The demo gives you 2 minutes to drive around, and then it ends the game and runs a video replay. 

The Prius handles very poorly with the analog stick, usually being rather sluggish in a high-speed turn and likely to skid off-road when trying to correct. Hopefully the game responds better when using the GT steering wheel accessory.

The X button's pressure sensitivity has been used to allow some degree of analog speed control, which can be used to coast and enter electric "stealth" mode. However, given the millimeter or so of travel that the button has, this would probably also be a lot better with the GT wheel/pedals peripheral. It's also odd that there is a parking/hand brake button, since the Prius uses a locking floor pedal for the parking brake that would make this awkward in real life, to say the least.

What's really a bummer is that the game doesn't provide any statistics at the end of the 2 minutes. It would be really cool if the game displayed the final mileage result, distance traveled and amount of gas used. The game apparently allows for up to two laps to be run in the provided 120 seconds, so it is possible that statistics are provided at the end of a 2-lap completion. Unfortunately, I have not been able to accomplish this yet.

So while this is a really fun and unique Prius collectible, there isn't much to recommend it in terms of gameplay. It is, however, the only preview of GT4 available in the US that I am aware of to date. So if you are a serious fan of the GT series it might be worth your while to track down a copy while waiting for the full version to be released this fall.

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