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This game was the N64's closest competitor to Gran Turismo, and based its cars and teams heavily on real-life racing. Several cars are nearly direct ripoffs of real cars without the licensing. Starting out, you take the role of a new driver on the racing circuit looking for a break. You'll choose a team to drive for, and as you move up and win more races, faster cars will be offered to you by your team and others. Eventually, your goal is to be the world champion of sports car racing.
Far from an arcade racer, this game is as much a simulation as one could expect on the N64. The cars handle realistically, requiring careful driving to stay on the track and gain positions. Each car has its own characteristics, and the fastest cars actually seem to handle the best. There is no damage, but hitting walls or going through sand will slow you down significantly.
The game does not use the Expansion Pak, but looks good even without it, especially in the high-quality letterbox mode. Cars look smooth and tracks are bright and colorful, with the exception of the night races, which can be a bit dark.
As you progress through the careeer mode, you need to win races and championships to advance. You can go back and do them over to get a better result. You start in the GT2 class, which consists mostly of highly modified road cars. As you increase your driver rank, you'll gain access to new cars and championships. When you complete the GT2 calendar, you'll graduate to GT1, driving full-on racing prototypes. Each time you win a Gold Cup, you earn 1 "restart" that you can use in future championship races if things are going badly.
The game offers 2-player splitscreen multiplayer, with an option for AI cars to fill out the field. You can also turn "catch-up" on or off, to aid a player who falls behind.