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In the late 1990's a game appeared that changed the very face of driving games, Gran Turismo. After various hugely successful offerings, in March 2008 (Europe) Polyphony dished out GT Prologue 5, the precursor for the widely anticipated GT 5. Déjà vu? Indeed, they did the same with GT4, by launching a prologue version to whet our appetites.
Back to the 1990's, many of us will remember sitting there in awe and wonderment at the race replays. The realistic feel of the driving, and panicking as the competition appeared in the side mirrors! A friend of mine even used to hire the console game out of the local blockbuster for the weekend and spend hours racing his shadow. It would be easy to forget just how big a hit Gran Turismo has been over the years, but it's worth mentioning the stunning development that has gone into the various releases. Truly a Gulliver amongst Lilliputians even 10 years down the line.
If you are of an impatient disposition then be prepared before playing, you will have to install to your PS3 first, you may have to update your PS3 also, along with updating the software before playing online, a couple of hours all in all. It's not all bad though, the download capability has allowed many beneficial updates to the game, leading to a more enjoyable experience. These are in the form of extra cars and tracks, physics et al. Again, impatient readers should be aware that transition between menus once within the game is also a little more time consuming than is desirable, but this is being picky.
Truly a Gulliver amongst Lilliputians even 10 years down the line.
The action is split into arcade mode for multiple play, online racing for up to 16, and 3 classes of events, just about the right amount for a budget title. There are the usual excellent range of dealerships to choose and purchase cars from as you generate income from competing in the various events. The action is true to previous releases in that you are not going to get very far by simply slamming into other cars, this is no Burnout Paradise 360, you will need to hone your skill and practise the tracks in order to reap the rewards. It's also true to form in that you don't have to waste hours tuning your car massively (such as in Forza) in order to be able to compete with everyone else. There are a few tunable items but you can stay competitive with the minimum of fuss. Those of us that aren't particularly great (i.e. myself) can use the driving line until you feel confident.
Although the game is a precursor, it is still short on tracks, which is a shame because the tracks the game does have are simply a delight to play on, time and time again. It would have been nice to have had some more diversity. We have Suzuka and the Swiss Mountains, but I would have preferred to have seen, say, a night track, or a mud track, or even had a crack at playing during some bad weather.
Included in the tracks is London and I have to say it's very true to form. I am used to driving around those streets as my Uncle lives nearby, and it's a very realistic experience. For an extra treat, leave the console for a few mins and you will see some superb graphical close ups of the various buildings.
The good old wing mirror has also gone, this was a feature that used to add to the excitement as cars crept up on you. To clarify, I should point out that there is now an excellent in car view where you get to see the wings, along with the speedos and even the driver changing gears, truly an awesome view but I wouldn't want to use it for races.
They are the most realistic of any game I've played before.
The replays for Gran Turismo have always had the 'oooh' factor, and they do not disappoint. They are the most realistic of any game I've played before. The replays are not far off watching the real thing. The race audience has been diversified and dressed to resemble your average Joe Bloggs and this adds to the realism. Hit the triangle during the replay for a stunning close up of your vehicle tanking around the track. In-game driving physics are superb.
The sound track is not bad either and hard-fi even put in an appearance. Personally I like to get the amp on for the full surround sound effect, turn off the music and slam some Toto on my iPod. Gran Turismo soundtracks never disappoint, do you remember the first? It had 'faster' by the manics remixed on it, brill.
This doesn't happen when I play Mario Kart
The only real area of disappointment for me was the online racing. Once online I found it time consuming to connect to games, and the connection would often time out. This doesn't happen when I play Mario Kart or other games and in all honesty a game of this calibre should not be suffering from these sort of glitches. The online features are also limited once you are in. During races other cars would ram you, but yet you get penalised via a time penalty. Players with poor connections appear as erratic ghosts haunting the track. Not quite good enough and I hope they shape this up before the full release as it's a key aspect of the game. Ideally I would also like some feel of damage to the car after several hits.
All in all this is a thoroughly recommendable budget title that should have you playing for hours. Well worth a punt although there is scope for much improvement before the big release. A bit more track and condition diversity is needed in order to really set this game apart from the competitiion.
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