Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3 St. John's NL
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (PS3
April 15, 2008 By Dennis Burger
"So, you like racing games." That's generally the first thing most new guests say the first time they enter my media room and spy the Sparco GT Racing Cockpit tucked behind my theater seating. I love the looks on their faces when I answer, quite truthfully, "I cannot stand the things. The cockpit is for Gran Turismo and Gran Turismo alone. And don't you dare call it a 'racing game'."
The term "racing game" carries with it certain connotations: instant accessibility; a broad selection of hop-in-and-drive sports cars; slick, press-of-a-button power slides; an emphasis on winning at any cost. Gran Turismo is none of those things. Since its debut ten years on the original PlayStation, the series has made its mark by pushing the boundaries of brutal realism as far as current gaming hardware would take it. Every generation of new PlayStation hardware brings with it a new generation of bigger, badder Gran Turismo games, with more detailed cars, better physics, more lifelike sound, and better AI. And although the first full GT release in the HD generation is still a year away, Polyphony's latest teaser—Gran Turismo 5 Prologue—demonstrates that the ante has been upped yet again.
For the uninitiated, perhaps a bit of explanation is in order. As its name implies, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is not intended to be seen as a full-fledged game release. Nor, on the other hand, is it a mere tech demo like Gran Turismo HD Concept. Think of it as something sort of halfway between a game demo and full release—a weird, scaled-down, $40 state-of-the-game palate-whetter intended to keep raving fans of the notoriously behind-schedule series sated until the perfectionists at Polyphony are ready to reveal their final work to the world. It boasts six tracks (twelve layouts total), nearly 80 cars (a pittance compared to a full GT release, but a wonderful selection compared to most racing games), single-player Arcade and Event modes, and sixteen-player online racing. Other online features include GT-TV, a nifty high-definition video-on-demand service focused on real-life racing content and Gran Turismo-related movies.
It also boasts a level of graphical muscle sure to elicit reactions forbidden by the Old Testament and generally frowned upon in polite company. The verisimilitude of the car models is downright disturbing at times. Quite frankly, I'm not sure the human brain is entirely ready to take complete control of images this lifelike—especially the down-to-the-tach-needle perfection of the in-car dashboard renderings. The tracks are also recreated with such detail that imperfections in the paint striping and divots in the asphalt are apparent. And if the backgrounds don't quite measure up to the resplendence of the virtual vehicles and raceways—power poles and other small, far-off details can get a bit stair-steppy at times, demonstrating the fact that not even 1920x1080 resolution is enough to capture every m...