Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3) Review

One of the first games that I actually reviewed was Gran Turismo 4. I don’t know if it was because the game was so awe inspiring that I was at a lost for words or if it was just the fact that it was literally the very first review that I actually did, but I only managed to etch out about 400 words for the review. Well that was many years ago and I’m now a different more experienced reviewer.

Gran Turismo is now considered the definition of mainstream racing simulation and Kazunori Yamauchi can be considered the father of the genre. Many companies are vying to steal the crown away from Sony’s flagship title, with the closest competitor being Microsoft’s own Forza Motorsport franchise. Forza is actually a great title and does many things that Gran Turismo is just getting around to like vehicle damage (not in Prologue but will be in the full version).

Now one thing I’ve noticed with the press around GT5: Prologue is the fact that people seem to be calling it an expanded demo. Now I’m not going to try to debate this, but I will bring up that this isn’t the first time that Polyphony Digital has done this. Both GT3 and GT4 have had their respective “Prologue” editions, but these were never shipped to the United States

Gameplay:

Well since this is a racing game there isn’t much to innovate. You can either give the game an updated physics engine or make sure that your graphics engine is so top notch that it will make the players eyes bleed. One of the first things that I noticed is that they lifted the preferred line mechanic straight out of Forza Motorsport so it’s nice to know Polyphony Digital knows a decent idea when they see one; now I just wish that they would allow for the car customization that Forza is famous for, but the odds of this happening are slim to none.

Prologue houses 70 cars and about 6 tracks with multiple sections for you to race on so there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to memorize each tracks layout and the best way to race them, but on the downside it could get monotonous.

What I noticed is that they changed the layout of the menu for races. I don’t know if this is in the finalized version because the full version is at least a year away and Polyphony Digital are devout perfectionists. I also like the new My Page layout as well. It immediately lets you know what your current car is and it has more personality than what most content hubs have. What this means is that the game is just as fun as it always has been, which is until you get the S class races which are just ball bustingly (I don’t care if that’s not a word) strict because you can’t bump the cars too severely and you can’t go off the beaten path. But when you’re in the C-A class races it’s a lot of fun. Though there are only 6 tracks they’re a lot of fun to drive and the cars handle beautifully. What I didn’t like about Forza is how realistic the physics were. You did a lot of braking and if you didn’t pre-plan your breaking before acceleration you got punished for it.

Granted if you race around like Speed Racer on Crack in GT5P and go smack dab into a wall and lose six places you deserve it. In Forza take a wrong turn too fast or break at the wrong time and you’re up craps creek in a leaky boat. It made the game challenging, but it did take some of the speed demon fun out of it for me. GT5P has more of a balance to it.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the cars handle realistically, because I currently don’t drive and there is no way in hell that I’ll be able to afford most of the cars in this game outside of the Honda Integra. Speaking of cars I must say that even the boring ones are gorgeous. The new Mitsubishi Evolution is just a rather imposing and eye catching vehicle and let’s not even talk about the new Skyline. And unlike the last couple of GT’s they finally got the Ferrari license. I can only hope that when the game is finished that they have managed to secure the Lamborghini license as well.

They still need to make improvements to the A.I. because they still seem to just race the line half the time. Every now and then you’ll see them scrap for a position, but it’s not that often.

Graphics:


I believe in an earlier paragraph I said that a racing game better have graphics that will make the players eyes bleed. And suffice to say it your eyes will be bleeding. Pretty much if you take a picture of one of the real world counterparts to the game and put it next the game model you’ll barely be able to tell the difference. The beauty of the cars really makes you want to see a replay and maybe even save it if the race was intense. What I really like are the tracks and the lighting. The lighting is so much more detailed in this version. The reflections are absolutely gorgeous as well. There’s this one track with a lake in it and during the replays the camera will sometimes pan just above it showing the reflection of the bridge and sky on it in real time. One other small touch I realized was that in certain parts of the track the grass will sway as a car speeds past it. At times you’ll notice a jaggy here and there, but it’s not often.

Also as of now it’s also safe to say that this game has the best in cockpit view as well. Each car has theirs modeled after the real life car so they all look different. Also depending on the lighting in the car you will notice the stitching on the leather steering wheel. Another nice touch you will notice is that they also modeled the rear window of the car. Which may not seem like something big, but it adds more realism to looking out the back of your car. All the movements of the driver in the car are a lot more fluid than they were in GT4 as well.


Sound:


The engine sounds are pretty distinctive and this actually helps you know when there is another car right behind you. Also the engine sounds different when you are in the cockpit view and when you are in third person. The screech of the tires indicates when you’re car is about to lose grip and when to correct your steering. Almost every sound that your car makes adds to helping you drive the car better.

As far as the soundtrack goes it’s nowhere near as eclectic as the soundtrack in GT4. For the most part I don’t mind either, because I prefer rock soundtracks anyhow. I do hope that they either patch in custom soundtracks or they release it for the final version because racing music does get monotonous after a couple of racing circuits.

Replay:

For the first time you can take a Gran Turismo game online. I’m happy to say that it works, but it does have its fair share of quirks. First of all you can’t invite friends. Second of all there are no lobbies. What you do is you just select the class and track that you want and the game automatically matches you and when you’re done it matches you again (yes even on the same track right after the race). I really don’t mind, but it takes at least 90 seconds to match you sometimes. If you want a social atmosphere you won’t find it here, if you just want to race you won’t mind. What I did notice during a bunch of my matches is that people tend to play like it’s Burnout Paradise. You’ll see people sliding all over the place and bumping each other into the wall. The good this is that cooler more experienced heads prevail because I just out turned and out accelerated a lot of people, but when somebody puts you into the wall because they’re most likely new to the GT franchise you’ll find yourself screaming “F**king Noobs!!!” Hopefully over the course of this Prologue or with integration with Sony’s forthcoming Home network you’ll see lobbies and friend invites make its way to the GT universe.

On top of online races you can spend your time buying numerous expensive cars in the game. I guess the obsessive would try to buy the $2 million Ferrari Formula One car. So it’s best to find an easy circuit that will net you a good amount of cash fast.

Overall:

Well this is a demo (a really large one at that) and all I can say is that I hope they’ll add a rally mode to the final version (they usually do). Because imagining this graphics engine with Rally tracks makes me really excited. This is only a taste of things to come so I’m going to hold off on a 9, but if you’re a GT fan and have $40 to blow then purchase this. Besides I’m pretty sure that when the full game does come out you can transfer your progress over.

"Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3)" is on sale November 30, 2006 and is not rated. Racing.

May
12
2008
Marcus Beasley

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