So Fast! So Pretty!
March 27, 2008 – When I think of automotive games, I think of Gran Turismo. It is one of those franchises that never fails to impress, and it seems to transcend itself as a hallmark game not only for the automotive genre, but for the PlayStation brand as well. I have very fond memories of playing the Gran Turismo on the PlayStation and the PlayStation 2, and I’m fairly sure that I’m not alone.
The promise of a new Gran Turismo is definitely a factor in many people’s decision to purchase a PS3, simply because it has such a great and illustrious legacy. The Gran Turismo series essentially created the automotive simulation game, and definitely inspired series like Project Gotham Racing and Forza Motorsports.
Given my obvious pre-existing fervor, you can imagine my excitement when an exclusive preview build of the much-anticipated Gran Turismo 5 Prologue arrived in my lap. The preview build included basically everything that the full Prologue will have, minus online modes and a few details. And let me tell you, this Gran Turismo is definitely a beauty. The first thing about this title that you will immediately notice is the stunning visuals. The Gran Turismo franchise has always been thought of as a leader in terms of pushing graphical limits, and Gran Turismo 5 Prologue definitely lives up to its renown. The game is presented in full HD up to 1080p and looks absolutely stunning. Cars and tracks look incredibly detailed and the photorealism of the game is unmatched in other current-gen games. One specific element of the game that impressed me was the track skyline. The clouds, sunshine, and shadow effects were absolutely amazing in my opinion, and I was quite surprised that so much time went into this minor detail. Framerate is extremely fast and keeps pace with the driving action perfectly.
Gameplay in Gran Turismo 5 prologue is definitely as sharp as it has ever been. The main draw is the event mode, which allows you to complete various speed, lap, and drift challenges using different classes of cars. One of the biggest goals of the Gran Turismo series has always been to build your garage, and the event mode has several car or class specific challenges that make upgrading your fleet a must. Each car controls differently, and the difference between a Volkswagen Golf and a Suzuki Cappuccino has never been more palpable. The car physics in the game have never been more spot-on, and if you are looking for a realistic automotive simulation, prepare to be wowed by the cars of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue.
While the graphics and car physics are definitely immersive, there is one facet of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue that breaks this immersion, and that is the impact physics. While the Gran Turismo series has never really been one for flashy crashes, it is a little distracting when you slam head on into a flimsy-looking barrier and there is no damage to your car or to the barrier. And while I can appreciate a simulation devoid of over-the-top collisions, I can’t help but feel that this breaks the level of immersion captivation, and I am hoping that there will be a little more impact physics in the full version.
In addition to the event mode, there is also an arcade mode, a two-player mode, and online modes. The arcade mode is probably best suited to testing out new cars or practicing with ones you already have. Two-player mode is pretty basic and just has you and a friend racing on a track of your choice. Online modes were not available for our preview build, but we do know that online play will feature several community-based events and support for up to 16 players.
It is important to note that Gran Turismo Prologue is not the full version of Gran Turismo. It is essentially a work-in-progress that you can build upon when the full version is released. Gran Turismo is the only franchise that I know of that releases a Prologue, and it is unknown whether this phenomena occurs to satiate rabid fans like myself or to get extra cash. But one thing is for sure: on April 15th when Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is released both in-stores and via the PlayStation network, fans will line up in droves to get their hands on this title. And this fervor is definitely warranted because Gran Turismo 5 is looking to be one of the best looking and feeling racing simulators, not only for this year, but for this generation of consoles!