Form feet and legs. Form arms and body.

And I’ll form the head.

Review: Gran Turismo 5: Prologue

Posted by rapaleeman on April 17, 2008

I picked up GT5P yesterday (take a guess at the acronym) and played the admittingly short events mode last night.  I never thought that driving in a video game was realistic to the point of actually being in a car until now.  The closest thing to perfection was F355 Ferrari for the Dreamcast and PS2. 

Yes, even though I have been a fan of Gran Turismo since numero uno, it wasn’t exactly a simulator like the box would describe.  The games were always more simulation than the competition, but it still had that unrealistic feeling.  Each iteration has moved forward towards perfection though with GT4 only being a slightly improved GT3 (probably because there wasn’t much else Polyphony Digital could do with the PS2).  With that said, the difference between number 4 and the Prologue is amazingly drastic and well worth the $40 purchase of what really is a prologue of things to come (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun).

I’ll start with the easy thing you’ll notice upon firing it up the first time, well after the painfully long install and the extremely slow update.  Yes after those little minute issues you will be treated with the most breathtaking intro I have ever seen.  Forget all of the opening CG cutscenes from games like Gears, Resident Evil 2, and even Final Fantasy titles.  This one just has to be seen to believed.  The lighting, the people, the tracks, and oh yeah the cars all look stunning and 100% real/authentic.

This can be said about everything else in the game as well with just a minor correction.  Some of the aliasing is kinda bad (not that noticable) and some of the shadows can flicker every once in a while (again, not that noticable).  Besides that the game is perfect when it comes to the graphics and presentation.  The new My Page menu is really a nice touch.  It displays the date, time, your current car, some other random stuff, a sweet background setting, and the weather at key racing locations.  A little overkill on the weather, but it is so cool that I can’t knock it (not sure why it’s cool since the weather at Motegi will never have an affect on me at the same same, but whatever it’s sweet).

Also the tracks look great.  All 6 of them.  That is a problem since well, in order to earn 2,000,000 credits to get the F1 Ferrari I have to replay one of the six tracks over and over again, but they all look great (though the Norwind is a little shaky).  The backgrounds, trackside details, and even the people look like they belong in the world.  Just a great experience overall.

Moving on to the driving and you will notice a significantly improved driving engine.  The cars turn realistically, make great contact with the road, and actually have weight to them.  Never before have I experienced (yeah, you experience this GT, not play it) a game that makes me feel like I am actually driving a real car as opposed to a video game car (there is a difference, talk to Need for Speed ProStreet for some examples).  The in-dash camera helps to add that feeling of immersion and the fact when you hit the rear view you look out the back window literally makes it that much more impressive.  All of the car interiors look great and authentic to boot.

The car sounds are great as well and can actually help you drive better unlike most games where they are just kinda there.  Here, the screeching of the tires, the wind (or lack thereof) from the slipstream of the car ahead of you all make a difference.  When used properly you have all the weapons that you would have in a real car to help you win the race.  Also, I usually turn off the music because it is either annoying or it hinders the gameplay, but the audio mix here works great.  The audio sounds like it is coming from the car speakers, the tires come from below and the on the correct side, and that also goes with the competition.

About the competition, it is better.  Though the AI is still lacking significantly when you compare it to DiRT or the Race Driver series, they at least know your there.  They no longer purposely ram you, at least not the majority of the time.  Obviously in races where there are only 7 other cars, the AI is better than when you are competing against 15.  Plus the AI will make mistakes.  Sometimes, not always but often, they take a corner too wide or too tight and spin-out.  Like I said, it’s better.  Needs more work, but it is better.

Finally, the online component is as bare bones as can be.  There is a simple menu interface and that is it.  Just a drop down list like the listings in the events section.  It’s functional, but not pretty.  There is quite a bit of lag and my fellow racers like to abuse the no damage modelling by bumping off of my car around corners.  So in other words they cheat as much as the idiots on Xbox Live (at least I’m not paying for it here).

Ok, if you haven’t guessed by now this game is worth every penny.  True there are problems (the AI, lack of damage modelling, track selection, and bare bones online) but overall the actual driving is top-notch and that is what counts in my book.  I would have loved more selection for my $40 bucks, but there are 71 cars and they all drive differently and realistically.  I cannot stress this fact enough.  Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is the best driving simulator on the market right now.  Yes it is better than Forza in the driving aspect (but the AI is better in Forza’s races so they are a little more intense).

Anyway, buy this game if  you have a remote interest in driving or racing.  I know it is an extended demo, but it seems this will be the best and most realistic driving experience for a while. 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Side-Note: Yes I know GRID is coming out soon but it is said to be more “for the masses” and less simulation so we’ll see.

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