Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
SCEA Gran Turismo 5: Prologue
- The interior dashboard view, which puts you in the drivers' seat of every car in the game; impressive visuals
- Only available on PlayStation 3, GT TV is only available in broadcast quality and not HD
If you're looking for the ultimate racing experience, this is it. This wheel rocks!
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is a heavy-hitting race simulator offering more than a taste of all the features to come in the final game. Although purely an appetiser, is it worth $60 before the main course?
Note that Gran Turismo 5: Prologue is a short version, a precursor demo of the full Gran Turismo 5 racing game, which still lingers under a TBA release date. Demo is the wrong word, but it gets the point across. Better yet, Prologue is an early, extensive hands-on experience that allows players to enjoy abridged features of the final version. Prologue is available on both Blu-ray (April 15th) and the PlayStation Network (April 17th).
Definition: Prologue -noun: a preliminary trial; a preface or introductory part of a video game in the case of Gran Turismo 5.
Available only on the PlayStation 3, GT5: Prologue is the most realistic racing simulation from the graphics to the sound to the feel. Prologue features over 70 cars including the Nissan GT-R, Ford GT, and for the first time in the series, high-end Ferrari cars such as the sporty F40 line. There are six full race courses available, each with alternative and reverse routes. The race-track scenery remains the same, but switching the route creates a completely different feel and strategy for each track, which actually ups the track count to near a dozen.
Our favourite new feature to Prologue, though, is the interior dashboard view, which puts you in the drivers' seat of every car in the game. No more bumper view taglines proclaiming that you're behind the wheel. You really are in GT5: Prologue with fully modelled driver arms and hands that grip the steering wheel of each individual, unique car. We've never sat inside a real Delta Lancia HF Integrale rally car before, and probably never will, but the new in-dash view reveals the actual, physical detail and geometry inside that car. And at 1080p resolution, you couldn't be more in the action.
The graphics in GT5: Prologue are even better than Crysis. Race replays showcase moments of photo realism you can't find in any other game. Again, not even Crysis. The visuals are so crisp, blades of grass can be seen swaying in the wake of nearby wind currents caused by the speeding cars. The HDR lighting will remind you of Half-Life 2 as you exit a dark tunnel only to be momentarily blinded by the burning sunlight. We did notice, however, a difference between the visible jaggies between 720p and 1080p resolutions. This is due to the finite detail of geometry used to model every curve and crevice of the cars. Therefore, the best experience is on a 1080p television. We recommend a Sony Bravia or Grand Wega for maximum colour vibrancy and sharp definition.
The same goes for a complete sound experience. The sound of each car is individually recorded from every angle, including inside the cockpit for the new interior dash view. This has been a staple since Gran Turismo 3, so hardcore fans should already have a booming 5.1 surround sound system if not better.
If you're PS3 is connected to the Internet via broadband, you can race online with support for up to 16 players. You can also access Gran Turismo TV, which is a dedicated online channel that delivers exclusive motorsport and manufacturer content, but unfortunately, GT TV is only available in broadcast quality and not HD.
The controls as always, work magic for a racing game, and the functions are completely changeable between face buttons, analogue sticks, and the shoulder flaps. We recommend the new Dual-Shock 3 for the rumble effect, because it's not just the motor of the car that will spark up the vibrate function, each track has been felt up for unique grooves of wear and tear. Also, try the analogue stick for finite gas and break leverage.
Even better, we got our hands on the new Logitech Driving Force GT Wheel exclusively developed for Gran Turismo 5 and Prologue. If you're looking for the ultimate racing experience, this is it. This wheel rocks! It adds a level of difficulty which takes some getting used to, but it makes the in-dash view ten times more fun. And the force feedback is unrivaled. The wheel responds perfectly to your every movement as well as the car's. You can try and hold on to the wheel and fight against a spinout, but you'll probably break an arm in the process.
Now, that's a lot of gameplay and features for a demo. Demo is the wrong word, and we hope you see why. But here's the question we had to ask ourselves: Is Gran Turismo 5: Prologue worth spending $60 dollars for? Absolutely. Yes. Without a doubt. If you purchase the Blu-ray version in stores. Not the PlayStation Network version, however. Why? Because the Blu-ray version comes with an additional HD behind the scenes featurette of the GT franchise called Beyond the Apex. The downloadable PSN version does not, and should be offered for $34.99 or even $29.99. You're not getting extra content, and you're helping Sony with PSN traffic and they don't even have to print a disc.
There are loads of other features too, such as a new drift mode, car tuning, 2-player split screen, and arcade mode. You get the picture. Prologue is massive and exactly what the PS3 needs to rev up the install base alongside Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.
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