After numerous delays, setups, and "mini-releases", the mother of all hyped-up racing games was released in japan on december 28th last year. Every year since Gran Turismo 3 polyphony digital has released just a little taste of what they've been working on, and each release featured a more refined product each time.
In the winter of 2001-2002, the first Gran Turismo Concept was released, which featured sharper graphics than Gran Turismo 3, but didn't really expand on the gameplay dynamics of driving. (more details: http://www.spamm.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=62 ). Six months later Gran Turismo Concept Tokyo-Geneva was released which had more cars and one new track (i think), but still didn't offer any better gameplay. The Gran Turimso Concept series was basically just an enhanced and 'fixed' version of Gran Turismo 3.
That all changed when Gran Turismo 4 Prologue was released last christmas season. Not only were the graphics better than any previous Gran Turismo release, the driving dynamics were completed rewritten. Now different cars had a very noticable different feel. Each car had its own unique movements and power. (more details: http://www.spamm.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=955 )
And now this belated christmas Gran Turimso 4 finally comes to light and with a 39/40 famitsu rating ^_^. however i think Gran Turismo 4 Prologue spoiled their public.
from GT4 Prologue to GT4, there is no change in gameplay or graphics. GT4 Prologue gave fans a year early glimpse at the actual final product of the gameplay. thats kind of a let down, but GT4 Prologue had 5 tracks and 80 or 90 cars in a setup that was merely a demostration. GT4 had about 50 tracks and 250 cars complete in its simulation enviroment. Gran Turismo 4 has almost every track in all previous Gran Turismos, plus another 9 or 10 more.
The world of GT4 is setup even more like a map than it was before. race arenas are more spread out on the map, rather than in just one spot. i haven't noticed if certain tracks can only be found in specific arenas, but they probably are to some degree. Its pretty neat.
Something that i really like about GT4 is that when you turn on the game, it brings you to the exact menu you left off on, skipping the title sequence and main menu. quite helpful.
GT4 Prologue has a few cosmetic superiorites to GT4 that makes the game feel a little bland. GT4 Prologue had some involved and pretty looking sequences when you acquired a car, whereas GT4 just has the same 'ol grey background screen. GT4 Prologue had sweet music during the opening, whereas GT4 uses generic clip-music instead of something original. i think for the finished product, they wanted to keep the game simple and professional, rather than doll it up with unneccessities and flashy gimicks.
anyways, there is no big graphical difference between GT4 and GT4 Prologue, but that doesn't mean the graphics suck, its quite the opposite. I would say that Gran Turismo 4 looks better than any Xbox racing game, but i'd have to check first. (though, that Forza game looks pretty nifty) All racing enviroment look photo realistic, and the people in the enviroment are actually modeled, rather than sprite. Some of the tracks look amazing, especially the snow tracks.
GT4's management system is setup much more user friendly and in depth compared to GT3. You can sort through your cars much more quickly, and with multiple varieties of sorting. Much like GT3 the amount of days are kept track of, however the date is displayed instead of a day number. you have a diary which keeps track of what you did each day you've been in the game. buying a car takes up a day, a race takes up a day, and a license test takes up a day.
...anyways, playing GT4 reminds me of the good 'ol days playing the previous games. ^_^. though, its kind of annoying that my get-rich-quite scheme still works to a degree. Get enough money to buy a WRX, and Rally tires, and then win all the Rally races. the rally races aren't as plentiful as they once were, but now there are a variety of difficulties, rather than just normal. howevery, each easy race awards you $5000, which is quite a lot at the beginning of the game. that doubles every difficulty increment. and each circuit awards you a unique car, which can be sold for quite a bit of money. just a few more races and i'm a millionaire.
anywho, i'll type up more later..