Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Gran Turismo 5 Prologue


Developer: Polyphony Digital

Publisher: Sony

Release Date: April 17, 2008

System: PS3

ESRB Rating: E

Official Web site

0:00 The last Gran Turismo game I owned was No. 2 on the original PlayStation. The ones since then have seemed to me to be the same essential game with more cars and nicer graphics. That's all I really expect from this "prologue" to the full GT5, except maybe for the more cars part.

0:05 While I didn't include the six-plus hours it took to download this nearly two-gig game in my clock, I am including the roughly five minutes it takes to install the demo, simply because the idea of installing console games annoys me to no end.

0:06 With the install done, I find I need to sign in to the PlayStation Network to start the game, but to sign in to PSN, I need a system update. GRAH! You're still on the clock, Sony.

0:27 FINALLY finished downloading the update. I doubt having half my time taken up by updating will really impact the review -- you've raced one GT race, you've raced 'em all. Man, I'm a jerk.

0:28 The system update wasn't even for the game, it was for the PSN Store! That's right: Sony wouldn't let me play my game until I spent 20 minutes downloading an update for its online store. I'm fuming over here.

0:31 I finally start the actual game only to be greeted by, you guessed it: another update! This one is actually for the game itself. I couldn't make this stuff up.

0:44 An error occurred during the update download, but I'm still able to get to the title screen. I guess that update was optional? Now I feel bad for wasting everyone's time. Anyone mind if I reset the clock to 0:32? No? Great!

0:32 So instead of the usual car porn intro that accompanies these types of games, I get an architecture porn intro featuring beautiful shots of some place called Arnstadt. Makes me wish I had an HDTV. The buildings are just stunning.

0:34 Off to the dealership to buy my first car. Thirty-one different dealerships! This might take a while.

0:35 I don't have enough credits for any of the concept cars, which is shame. I love concept cars. Or, at least, I love the concept of concept cars.

0:36 My 35,000 credits aren't even enough to buy the cheapest Nissan available. Sheesh. I'd take a plain old Sentra like the one sitting in my real-life driveway. That can't cost more than 35,000 credits, can it?

0:37 Finally, something I can afford: a Ford Focus ST in Electric Orange. It drives up into my garage with a "whoosh." I'm struck by just how shiny it is.

0:38 Starting off with the "Class C" racing events and the "Sunday Cup" series. The first race is on the High Speed Ring. Yes, that's the same High Speed Ring that was in the first two games. Sigh.

0:40 The graphics are absolutely stunning. I'm especially impressed with the lighting. When I come out of a short tunnel, the light in almost blinding for a second. Nice touch.

0:42 Despite a few spinouts, I easily finish first, mainly because it seems my car is much more powerful than the competition's. I like the on-track racing lines that show you the optimal path through turns. It even goes so far as to tell you by how much you should reduce your speed, which is great for a non-expert like me. I get 5,000 credits for my four minutes of work.

0:44 Odd design choice: Instead of taking me back to the menu after the race, the game sets me up to do the same race again. I have to physically exit out to the menu. Weird.

0:45 A three-lap race on "The Oval" is next on my list. The track is just as exciting as its name implies.

0:49 I'm not sure what's more frustrating, the fact that the computer-controlled opponents stick to the racing line perfectly, or the fact that I can beat them easily while ignoring it. I'm all alone for the last two-and-a-half laps. It's like there are no opponents at all.

0:51 What a gyp. I can't jump up to the harder B class events without beating ALL the C class events first. Oh, well. At least they seem to have gotten rid of those awful license tests that infected the first few games. You old-timers know what I'm talking about.

0:52 Finally, a track that isn't just a fancy circle: the twisting, alpine Eiger Nordwand.

0:54 It's so weird that a game that strives for such accuracy in everything doesn't have any damage model for its cars. This means I can play bumper cars on the tough turns, scraping other cars to slow me down and guide me around the bend, with no apparent penalty. It's enough to take me right out of the moment.

0:56 I'm still all alone for the last lap (which actually makes things a bit harder, since there are no helpful cars to bump), but at least that course had some interesting turns and required regular use of the brakes. I even caught some air at one point. One slight knock on the graphics: The pixelated, unmoving "spectators" on the side of the track. Just glancing at them breaks the illusion.

1:01 Just finished a 12-car race on Suzuka Circuit East. Despite an early spinout, I use some aggressive driving and bumping to finish in second place.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Probably not.

Why? While I admire the technical achievement of the game, I'm not enough of a gearhead to appreciate the accuracy and car selection. The whole thing seems a bit too sterile when compared with Forza or Project Gotham, which I'd probably go to first for my racing fix. Your mileage may vary.

This column was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.

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