Gran Turismo 5 Prologue - Review
By Dillon - April 29, 2008
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An appetizer of racing heaven.
Gran Turismo 5 is one of the most anticipated titles for the PlayStation 3. In light of that, Polyphony Digital has decided to whet fans' appetites with the release of Prologue. Just like GT4 Prologue, this release serves as a taste of what’s to come. It’s much more than a demo, but is the amount of content here worth the $40? Yes and no. The visuals are stunning and the audio is superb. The gameplay will be instantly familiar to fans of the series, but for those who never got into the franchise, nothing here will change your mind.
Realistic visuals are not very common in video games, as most developers tend to focus heavily on a more stylized look. Polyphony has always gone for a photorealistic look with Gran Turismo and with the next generation technology; they’ve pushed their engine to new heights. The cars, the tracks, hell even the menus look amazing. Granted, there’s not much to the visuals and there is a bit of mild screen tearing. When you’re going 150 on the Daytona Speedway, cars on both sides of you, and the sun glaring in your rear view mirror, all is forgiven. I recommend playing in the “In car” view to get the most out of the visual experience, as the 3rd person perspective is not nearly as exhilarating.
Left in the dust.
If the visuals don’t completely immerse you into this game, then the audio will. Each car has its own distinct engine sound, meaning you can actually tell what car you’re driving just by listening to the engine. Not only that but in some aspects of the game the sound affects gameplay. An example of this is when you’re drafting behind a car and you have to listen for the wind. If you don’t hear the wind it means you’re drafting successfully, or you’re just driving extremely slowly. The music is another very strong point in the audio. I found myself enjoying songs I’d never normally listen to. Every song on the soundtrack fits perfectly with the game and you might even turn up the in game music volume accordingly.
Some might be expecting Gran Turismo to be another racing game like Need for Speed or Burnout Paradise, but make no mistake, this is a driving simulator. If you’ve never heard of Gran Turismo or other driving sims such as the 360’s Forza Motorsports, then let me tell you, this is not a game about insanely high speeds, or ridiculous crashes. It’s more about the cars and tracks themselves. Each car and each track have a distinct look and feel; you’ll definitely encounter a few cars you absolutely love...and a few you absolutely hate. There are over 70 cars to choose from, and while that’s not a whole lot by GT’s standard, it’s far more than most other racers out today. Unfortunately the number of tracks is not nearly as impressive and is easily the games biggest setback. There are 6 tracks but a few variations make for a total of about 10 to 12 tracks. Luckily all of these are fun to race on and all of them feel different from one another.
Gone from past GT’s are the license tests. You now buy a car and get straight to the events. There are 4 event classes C, B, A, and S, each getting progressively harder. In each event class there are 10 events ranging from simple races to time trials to special events such as beating 15 opponents in 1 lap. For every event you beat you earn a certain amount of credits depending on the class you’re in. You can then use these credits to buy new cars, but if you want the million+ credit cars, you’re going to need to repeat a lot of events again and again and again.
Good thing then that the gameplay itself is very fun and rewarding. Nothing is more satisfying than a clean pass for the poll position. Playing from that in car view I mentioned earlier is the only way to go, as I find the 3rd person perspective not nearly as immersive. Each car has a different interior making it a joy to buy each car just to see what it looks like on the inside. At first, GT vets might be wondering where all the car customization went. While full customization is not present you do unlock the ability to tweak your cars performance after completing the A class events. It may not be as deep as other GT’s but it's much more accessible.
A major complaint in past GT games was the AI for opponent cars, and thankfully this has mostly been addressed. In previous games the other cars on the track seemed completely oblivious to your position on the track. Now they will move out of your way when “influenced” to do so. It makes the game much more enjoyable to play and each race feels far more intense than previous entries in the series.
Enjoying the scenery.
If you’re a fan of the Gran Turismo franchise then this game is a no-brainer, but if you never played the series before, or are not sure what to expect from the game, I suggest you rent it. If you’ve never liked the GT games, this one will certainly not change you opinion. It has a nice selection of cars, but the limited number of tracks will likely hinder the longevity a bit. The online mode is new to the series but unfortunately it’s pretty basic. You choose from a list of events and you’re connected to other players around the world. It is somewhat fun to race with other fans of the series through the internet but lag tends to hurt the experience. It’s not too bad, but it doesn’t stack up to other online racers in terms of depth and fun factor. A positive about the online is that you earn credits for all the races you participate in.
To get the full GT experience we suggest you get the Logitech Driving Force GT, a wheel peripheral made specifically for the game. It adds a lot in terms of fun factor and realism. If you don’t want to dish out the extra cash, then lucky for you the game controls very well with a regular controller. If you recently got your hands on a DualShock 3 then you’re in for a treat. The rumble in this game is nothing short of spectacular and combined with the visuals, audio and in car view…it’s fantastic. Overall this is a nice taste of what’s to come in the full release of GT5. Whether it’s worth the $40 really depends on your love for the series.
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