PS2 REVIEW: TOURIST TROPHY: THE REAL RIDING SIMULATOR

From the people that brought you the Gran Turismo series, Tourist Trophy specifically focuses on the world of motorcycle racing. You'll spend less time tweaking your machine in the garage and lots more time on the track doing what it is that you do best - racing. by Mike Chasselwaite

April 5, 2006 - Tourist Trophy could be considered a sim but don't let that scare you into thinking this is a difficult game. The bike is relatively easy to learn how to operate but it does respond very realistically which is where the sim factor comes in. You can tune aspects of the bike but you can't purchase upgrades to turn a broken beater into a supreme machine. If you don't know a magneto from a petcock, not to worry. You don't win money in this game so you can't purchase upgrades anyway. Instead you will be awarded new bikes for winning races. This takes the anxiety out of making decisions that you may not be all that knowledgeable about. All you've really got to do is focus on keeping your bike on the track and ahead of the pack.

There are more than 120 bikes, all nicely detailed with different characteristics that are easily distinguishable when controlling them, although there are some bikes that display similar characteristics as they do in real life. Bikes range from smaller 125cc, two-stoke engines to 1000cc beasts with models from the 70s to present day. There is what might seem to be an unbalanced majority of Japanese bikes such as Yamahas, Hondas and Suzukis but these are the most popular racing bikes in the world, and since this is a sim, you're getting the full-meal deal here. Other bikes such as the Triumph, BMW and Ducati are featured but only in limited quantities.

The bikes all handle exceptionally well, as long as you respect them and know what they are capable of. The smaller bikes are very easy to corner with but the larger bikes are much more difficult to control. The larger bikes excel on the straightway where they can reach speeds over 200 mph. The smaller bikes are agile and more response, and while they can accelerate quickly, they reach their top speed much quicker which may not be all that fast with bikes that are 250cc and under class.

There are two main modes: Arcade and Tourist Trophy. The Arcade mode is not more forgiving in terms of control and physics, it should actually be called the Arcade Sim mode to avoid such confusion. The only difference between the Arcade and Tourist Trophy mode is that you aren't committed to a tournament-style competition in the Arcade mode. You can just have one race in the Arcade mode if you so desire. You can race against the AI or you can race against another player in a two-player, split screen mode. Only four bikes take part in any race at any given time. While this may raise an eyebrow considering that there were up to 16 cars on the track in Gran Turismo, these empty tracks give you a lot more freedom to strut your stuff.

In Trophy Tourist you won't be stuck racing on the same track over and over until you come in first or second. Instead, there are simple objectives that you have to accomplish to move on. Sometimes you will have to stay in the lead for a predetermined amount of time, win a three-lap race, or just avoid collisions. Players are awarded points instead of money and the player that amasses the most points at the end of a series is the winner.

Before you can race in any of these events you have to test for a license. There are five different classes of licenses and you can try to get all of them before you start the series. Think of them as small training modes. Once you get your licenses you will unlock a series of races for each class of license that you have. When you win a series, you will unlock a new track and challenge, in addition to receiving a different motorcycle for a new class of racing. In no time at all you'll have a pretty well-stocked garage of bikes.

There isn't much in the way of bike customization. You do have the ability to tweak things such as the brakes, exhaust, suspension and gear ratio. You can notice the differences but you have to know how these differences will benefit you for each upcoming race and track. You can also customize your riding style. Head roll, body lean and aggressive or conservative riding styles will result in different performances. It's not as deep as the customizing options in Gran Tursimo but at least it gives you some room for experimenting.

The tracks aren't all that different from each other. They are composed of turns and straightways. Some snake more than others but they are basically ovals or slightly irregular rectangles. The sharp turns are the most crucial areas of the track. This is where races are won or lost. The AI tends to slow down more on the turns seemingly to goad you into taking them faster and getting yourself into a dangerous situation. Arguably the most unrealistic aspect of Tourist Trophy is getting into an accident. If you lost control and hit the rail at full speed, you will instantly be teleported back on the track as though nothing happened - never mind having your smoldering remains chucked into the back of the morgue wagon.

The best view is the first-person perspective. It puts you right in the middle of the action. When you corner, the ground will come up to meet you. It's a very realistic perspective where you can keep an eye on your speedometer and gauges. You can hear the wind whistling when you whip your bike down the straight sections - hell, you can almost feel it. The bikes not only look authentic but they also sound and respond like the real thing. If you're into motorcycles, there no reason not to get this game.

Features

  • Critically-acclaimed development team: from the developers of Gran Turismo, the best-selling worldwide racing videogame franchise with more than 44 million units sold.
  • Real-life simulation: perfected game physics, graphics and the balance of the rider versus the bike are accurately captured to offer the most authentic motorcycle racing simulation available.
  • Motorcycles: Tourist Trophy features more than 100 licensed motorcycles from more than a dozen worldwide manufacturers that include BMW, Honda, Ducati, Buell, Kawasaki, Triumph and more.
  • Courses: Tourist Trophy features more than 35 international courses that include closed-circuit and city tracks. Introduction of new tracks and the return of popular tracks from the Gran Turismo franchise include Tsukuba, Laguna Seca, New York City, Suzuka and more.
  • Game Modes: Tourist Trophy offers two modes of play, Arcade Mode and Challenge Mode. In both modes, players have the opportunity to select their bike, track and difficulty level.
  • Arcade Mode: players have access to a quick race for single-player or two-player battle. In two-player battle, players have the option to race in split-screen.
  • Challenge Mode: it serves as a career mode for players to earn their way up the ladder by participating in the license school missions, various race events and more in an effort to upgrade and unlock new bikes and related accessories. The license school will include various tests that will strive to better the player's driving skills in driving a motorcycle in various conditions and at various speeds, taking into account the rider and their riding style. Upon obtaining a license, players will have access to various race events based on engine class (250cc to 1500cc), course selection and more. In between race events, players have the opportunity to participate in a Time Trial on various courses to improve lap times and access their garage.
  • Photo Mode: To further improve their racing skills, in Challenge Mode, players have access to Photo Mode, which allows them to take snapshots of their favorite bike and race gear by freezing frames of an actual race from a replay. Upon taking a photograph, players have the opportunity to save it to a Memory Card (8MB) (for PlayStation2) or a USB storage device and share it with friends. After doing so, players can have the opportunity to print photographs directly from their PlayStation 2 USB port by using a printer that includes a PlayStation driver, such as Epson's PictureMate.
  • Licensed Accessories: With the incorporation of the motorcycle driver, players have access to a wardrobe where they can customize their rider by selecting from numerous licensed helmets, suits, shoes and more to further authenticate the riding experience
  • Rider Editor: Players have the opportunity to customize their riding form through a variety of parameters, whether it is preference to riding "out" verse "in" and so forth.
  • Customization: Players have the opportunity to earn credits and upgrade their motorcycles to enhance performance of their bike.
  • In-Game Soundtrack: Tourist Trophy will offer a selection of original and licensed tracks.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Tourist Trophy: The Real Riding Simulator (PS2)
4.4
Graphics
The tracks might be a little bland but the bikes are dead on.
4.3

Control
There isn't much customization but the bikes do have a great feel to them.

3.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
I'm not big on the announcer and the music is a little generic but the engine sounds are authentic.
3.0
Play Value
After you've completed all of the tracks and checked out most of the bikes there isn't much to come back for.
4.3
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2
Dev: Polyphony Digital
Pub: Sony
Release: Apr 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Mike

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best