|System: PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Polyphony Digital||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SCEA (SONY)||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 15, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2 (16 online)||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, for many people including myself, is the real arrival of the PlayStation 3. Before now, I had a PS3, but I must confess I didn't use it very much. There were no really compelling exclusive games, and therefore there was just no motivation for me to really get the use out of the system that I probably could have. However, I knew that once Gran Turismo 5 Prologue came out, my PS3's holiday was over.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue may only be a practice lap for the full Gran Turismo 5 (slated for release sometime next year) but it is most definitely a full game that is a must own, not just for automotive enthusiasts but for PlayStation fans as well. This game shows off exactly what this system can do, both in terms of graphical capacity and original and compelling gameplay.
The first thing that you must talk about when discussing Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is how awesome the graphics are. When I tell you that Gran Turismo 5 Prologue has the best graphics of any current-gen title, I sincerely mean it. Everything about this game looks perfect. The first thing you'll notice is the amazing detail put into the making of each car. Each one looks incredibly realistic, and the shine effects, both in game and during the opening animation are nothing short of phenomenal.
But the cars aren't the only thing here that looks phenomenal. Tracks are rendered with an amazing attention to detail. I have actually had the fortune of attending several races and events at the Daytona International Speedway, and the way this track is brought to life in the game is nothing short of surreal. From the textures in the asphalt to the color of the grass (Florida grass has a very unique texture and color), there is not one detail missing from the game's representation of this track.
Another facet of the graphics that is particularly amazing is the sky and weather effects. I mentioned this in the hands-on preview as well, but it bears repeating because the sky effects are really not something you think about when you're looking for technical specs. But these sky effects are some of the most photorealistic I have ever seen. Clouds move past sunlight and create shadow effects in a very lifelike way. Although these weather effects don't have any effect on the gameplay whatsoever, I think that they really add to the immersion factor of the game.
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue may be only a taste of what's to come in a year or so, but that doesn't stop it from feeling like a complete game. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue features over 70 cars, an extensive event mode, and some pretty compelling arcade features as well. The car roster, if I may be so bold as to call it that, includes vehicles from nearly every manufacturer that will be in the final game. You have your budget cars like Suzuki, your mid-grade vehicles like Ford Volkswagen, and your high-end luxury cars that include Lexus and Aston Martin. Each manufacturer has only a handful of cars, but the full unlockable vehicle count is close to 70. And if you're worried about unlocking everything too fast, then you may be in for a surprise, because there are cars in here valued up to $2,000,000, so you will definitely have to play for quite awhile to unlock these beauties!
The main single-player mode of the game is the event mode, where you will compete in several events with your different cars to try to earn a high-class license. You start out with a driver's class C license, which is the beginner's class, and will have to complete a main series of Class C races in order to advance. Races are not simply "get to the finish first" either, and feature a lot of deep automotive strategizing. Certain races will require you to use certain cars, and depending on the A.I., you may have to pull off some risky cornering or slingshot moves in order to get past the competition. But the good news is that the event descriptions will generally clue you in to how to win a race before you actually participate in it, so as long as you feel confident in your ability to execute, then the events mode comes off rather smoothly.
If you're looking for a more unrestricted GT experience, however, then the arcade mode will probably be the best for you. Arcade mode allows you to select your track and then choose from racing, time trial or drift events. The inclusion of drifting in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is somewhat disappointing to me, only because I feel that it was added simply because every other driving simulator seems to be incorporating it. But I understand that drift racing has garnered something of a mass appeal in the past few years, so I can't fault them for trying to give people what they want. The racing and time trial modes come off pretty well, and I found myself utilizing the time trial mode quite a bit to hone my skills on certain tracks, as well as to break in new cars.