How Gran Turismo Pushed the PlayStation Past its Limits and Revolutionized Racing Games

Take a stroll down nostalgia lane with Digital Foundry's John Linneman as he explains how GT changed the scope of driving simulators forever.

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It’s difficult to overstate how influential the original Gran Turismo was upon its global release in 1998. Sony was aware of this, as you can tell from that grandiose marketing claim you see above, from a print ad in the run-up to the game’s release that, yeah — actually turned out to be entirely valid.

Recently Digital Foundry’s John Linneman explored the series’ past with a two-part retrospective focused on the franchise’s PlayStation and PlayStation 2 entries. It explains, from studio Polyphony Digital’s inception to the game’s release and beyond, how the team was dedicated to pushing the capabilities of the original PlayStation, hardware that would be considered extremely rudimentary by today’s standards. They succeeded, realizing a quality of driving simulation that wasn’t thought possible in the late ’90s.

This two-part YouTube deep dive is a combined two hours exploring the games that made Gran Turismo a household name, as well as a number of titles that tried to capitalize on the attention — like Sega GT 2002 and Forza Motorsport. If you’re nerdy about these things, it’s a must-watch. It also ends with a comparison of the Nürburgring Nordschleife as recreated in four different titles — an especially interesting segment, because Forza’s Green Hell isn’t green at all, and the rendition of the famed circuit in Enthusia: Professional Racing is profoundly upsetting if you suffer from seasonal depression.

Watch ’em both and reminisce on those halcyon days before microtransactions and game-breaking updates.