As you'll have recently read, the Gran Turismo series is 15 years old this year. Fifteen years is a long time in the gaming industry, so we thought it appropriate to look at where the series began. To mark the series' 15th anniversary, the bods at Sony held an event at Silverstone where they unveiled the latest iteration - Gran Turismo 6. Visually it might not differ much from GT5, but that's no bad thing - GT5 still looks brilliant today. But with the promise of wider tuning options and a revised handling model, there's already much to like about the series' next installment. But Sony laid on something else at Silverstone - the opportunity to try previous games in the series. In the car world it's hard to focus on the latest and greatest vehicles without reflecting on their forebears. Try finding the Peugeot 208 GTI review which doesn't mention the 'iconic' 205 GTI, for example - and no feature on BMW M cars would be complete without a few words on the E30 M3. But with videogames, all but a few corners of the industry are interested only in the future. Not so with Gran Turismo. The game you see here may be visually imperfect, and its controls are no longer on the cutting edge. But its legacy stands the test of time, and open-minded gamers may even find something should they seek it out in the bargain bins. As the first game in the series, and with creators Polyphony Digital as-yet unaware of its franchise potential, it was unashamedly aimed at its home market in Japan. From its largely-Japanese car lineup - only a few international makes like TVR and Chevrolet made it in - to the chimes of its menu screens and Japanese techno menu music, the original GT is as Japanese as a kei car. It plays well too. There's not the precision of modern games in the cars' handling, and the relatively low-resolution graphics are hindered rather than helped by modern HD televisions, but the cars still have different driving characteristics and the circuits remain challenging to drive. Then there's Gran Turismo's legacy beyond the game industry. Take TVR, for example. Always respected in the UK, Gran Turismo catapulted it onto a truly global stage, raising its profile from British curiosity to internationally-renowned British muscle car maker. Okay, so TVR is long gone these days, but for a decade or so it enjoyed unprecedented recognition. The same goes for Japan's own hero cars. Some of you reading this may be young enough to have never known a time when the Nissan GT-R or Mitsubishi Evo weren't household names, or companies like Nismo and Mugen in the car industry, but believe us - such a time existed. For a generation now in their 20s and 30s, Gran Turismo kick-started a Japanese car scene that continues to this day. Arguably, the Japanese tuning scene outside Japan, Fast and Furious movies and the availability of cars like Nissan GT-Rs and Type R Hondas might never have happened without GT's influence. So if you get the chance, have a go on the original Gran Turismo. The game might not impress you, but at least you can say you've played a piece of automotive history.
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