Impressions: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue

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Well the GT5 Prologue preview codes were sent out tonight. I was excited to see them in my mailbox and eager to finally play this game. Now let me tell you, I am a Gran Turismo hater. I love racing games and was highly disappointed with GT1. The car selection was off the chart, the racing options were great and the gameplay sucked bawls. I don’t know about you, but something about hitting a wall at 120mph and continuing the race without a hiccup put me off. That wasn’t the real killer for me though. The real killer was the gameplay in general. I bought an Aston Martin DB7 and spun a donut right off the line effortlessly. I wasn’t even trying to do that but a little gas and a slight nudge on the controller and I was off spinning. This happened several times turning corners too. I’m sorry but you can’t call it a simulation if it’s doing shit that doesn’t even happen in arcade racers. I almost broke the disc. I gave GT2 a try but was still upset that the driving mechanics were so flawed. Again, the great graphics and car selection wasn’t enough for me. I quit the series, played on Sega GT for awhile and didn’t even bother with Forza. Big mistake I made! I picked up Forza 2 and have been in love ever since. After getting my PS3, I played a little GTHD and liked it better than any GT game I had played in the past. There was hope at last.

I was excited to start downloading GT5 Prologue. I, like everyone else, have fallen in love with the slew of screenshots that have hit the net since GTHD. The game is utterly gorgeous. I’ve been trying to figure out how the game looks so realistic next to games like Forza 2 and PGR4. Now don’t get me wrong, both of those games look realistic too. There was just something that was edging GT5 Prologue ahead in looks. After staring at the game on my HDTV I finally figured it out. It’s the lighting. Polyphony Digital must spend a shitload of time tweaking their lighting system because THAT is what gives this game the edge. You can only model a car to look like it’s real life counterpart. You can’t make it look better. Forza 2, PGR4 and GT5 Pro have all managed to make gorgeous looking cars. Buildings are also equally impressive in all of these games. In fact, if I were to rate the games graphic quality I’d say GT5 Pro comes first with PGR4 a VERY close second and Forza 2 a VERY close 3rd. Forza would be up higher if it had the lighting that PGR4 and GT5 Pro did.

But enough about the graphics. It’s not why you should buy the game. I’ve been playing for about 2hrs and I must say, it’s sweeter than chocolate. The preview did not ship with any network options enabled, but I’m hoping for new code with all the goods real soon. It did however, ship with 70 cars from several manufactures, 6 tracks, split screen modes, arcade mode, drift and racing modes. All the tracks are beautiful but the city tracks have a special place in my heart. London’s city track is reminiscent of the one from PGR4 in MANY ways. The options not available were News, GT-TV, Online Racing and Rankings. There are several events you can race in from 3 racing classes. If you complete all events with at least 3rd place, you’ll open up the option to fully tune your cars.

I had already got used to racing in GTHD. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was good. There were times when going up hill and turning that my car would nearly stall. Eiger Nordwand is also in GT5 Pro and I don’t have that issue anymore. In fact, while racing Nordwand with a VW GTi ’05, I beat all my fastest times on GTHD with 12 other cars on the track. That should tell you that the gameplay has come a long way. I was actually shocked at how well the game controlled. No more uncontrollable spinning. In fact, when I did spin out I was able to correct myself by counter steering like it should be done.

Supposedly Polyphony Digital is going to add car damage to GT5. It’s been a long time coming and if you really love competing online, car damage is the way to go. It’s why the tournaments on Forza 2 are so popular. People drive a completely different way when they know that slamming into a wall at 120mph could end the race for them. You learn to respect the other online drivers, follow your lines properly and not grief people for positioning. While GT5 Pro doesn’t have car damage, you do get penalties for running cars off the road and hitting objects on the roadsides. It’s far too easy to slam a car into a wall to get position. This penalty system works in a way to stop that type of gameplay. In fact, if you do get penalties, your engine power will be restricted for a short period of time. It will be interesting to see how this works online with 16 players.

So what can I say. While this preview is still early and there’s much more to see, I am now a GT lover! I was hoping Polyphony Digital would not let me down and they haven’t. I’m still waiting for the big GT5 but until it comes out, this should do us all well and keep us busy. It is a heaping $39 dollars, but it’s a full game. You can’t beat a next gen title of this caliber for $39 bucks. Get your broadband ready for April 15th.

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