Put simply, this game was absolutely unimaginable a year before its release.” So runs the comment in our 100 Most Significant Reviews special on Gran Turismo’s ten out of ten score, and that ten has always provoked debate. Those for it agree there’s no question that The Real Driving Simulator redefined the console racing game, ripping it from its arcade roots, and set a new standard for the breadth, fidelity and flexibility of game software that would – and still does – cause ripples way beyond its genre. Those against argue that, despite its massive appeal, the almost fanatically obsessive approach it takes to its subject matter does make it an inaccessible mystery to many players; and that, unlike all the other tens, its mighty achievements have very little to do with traditionally good game design.Of course, it’s easy to argue the toss now, after nearly twelve years’ worth of hindsight, nine years of its revolutionary template being worn into familiarity by imitations and GT’s own lavishly hidebound sequels. That comment is a telling reminder of how uncanny it seemed at the time. And such were the shockwaves caused by its graphical and physical realism, it was easy to miss just how strange and fearless it was underneath. Creator Kazunori Yamauchi and his team at Sony’s internal studio Polys – later, of course, to gain more independence and fame as Polyphony Digital – were absolutely rejecting the videogame aesthetic, and conventional wisdom with it. They poured countless man-hours into the painstaking recreation of some 150 cars, most of which most players could never hope to use, and many of which had no logical reason to be there. They then broke each model down and opened it up to the user with a tuning system that was like being able to reach into the code and tweak it yourself, a $#@!y invitation to explore the very limits of its magnificent handling model. And, most strangely of all, they organised it all into a sprawling, progressive game structure that turned its back on every existing variant of videogame racing and instead took inspiration from a most unlikely source: the RPG.