Gran Turismo 5 Prologue and DS3 Hands On

By Mike on 3:27 pm

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If anybody is interested, Best Buy has a great deal this week where if you buy Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, you get a Dual Shock 3 for $20. Not bad considering a DS3 at regular price is $54. I decided to take advantage of this. This really isn't a full review but rather a hands on look at GT5 Prologue, which I'll just call GT5P for the rest of the article.

GT5P is Polyphony's sequel to the hit Gran Turismo line of racing simulators for Playstation. Last year, they released Gran Turismo HD Concept, which was essentially just GTR4 with some slightly spiffed up graphics and 720p support. The free download featured one track, a time trial, drift mode, and ten cars. GT5P is also a demo of sorts. It's not the final game but rather simply a taste to tie gamers over until the full version of GT5 is released sometime in 2009. GT5P includes five tracks and 60 cars. To buy the game, you can either purchase a disc version or download it from the Playstation Store. I recommend the BD version since I prefer having a hard copy of games, plus the download is rather big at 1.9gb. There's one problem with the game right off the bat. It requires you to install the game to the HDD, which takes 5gb of space. This seems to be a growing trend for PS3 games making it tempting to upgrade your stock drive.

The game itself shows some good improvements over the previous outing. Graphics obviously have been updated and are the most realistic looking yet. There's not really much I can say here other than it looks how it should for a modern racing title. Like Uncharted, the game uses HDR lighting but it doesn't over use it. When you come out of tunnels into the bright sun, you'll be blinded temporally. A nice touch. The cars are nice and shiny. Once again, they failed to render dirt or damage though Polyphony has noted this might be included in an update this fall. One last word on graphics is that the frame rates are a silky smooth 60fps at all resolutions. GT5P supports resolutions of 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p.
The menu has also received an overhaul. GT4's was rather clumsy but Polyphony has taken the XMB approach, called the My Page, with a simple layout. I would even say GT5P's My Page is better than Sony's XMB since it even includes a realtime clock and calendar! Two new features to the menu involve the News and GT-TV channels. News is just what it says, it features news about the game. GT-TV is a video-on-demand service that will provide online streaming videos. The videos will include stuff related to Gran Turismo of course but will also feature real-world car videos such as new model tests, auto show reports, car documentaries, and special events. Not much is up on GT-TV now. If you buy the Blu-ray version, you get Beyond the Apex, a HD documentary on the making of the Gran Turismo series.

Gameplay, It's not much different from past GT games. However, the physics do seem to have improved over GT4. It had stiff physics and I thought it just didn't feel like a real car would, even at those speeds. GT5P feels more realistic. You can race in either arcade mode or event mode. Arcade mode has races, time trials, or drift trials. The one thing that disappointed me about this mode was the fact you couldn't drive any car you wanted, like in GT4. You can only drive cars that you've purchased from dealers. It would have been nice if they gave you a few of the lower end cars to test out in Arcade Mode. To start the game, I purchased the Mazda Atenza Sport. It's the European version of the Mazda 6. I have a soft spot for this car since the first car I ever owned was a 1989 Mazda 626, which is now known as the Mazda 6. The beginner C class races seem a bit easier than they were in GT4. A new feature is a visible race line, which is a big help for beginners like myself since it shows you the best route on the track to follow. One improvement over GT4 is the AI. Computer controlled drivers seem a bit more realistic then they did in the previous game. They will react to you and they even make mistakes such as going off the track. In some missions though, such as time trials with multiple cars on the track, they will still insist on following the race line to a T, which can be bad if you're trying to do the same thing since faster cars will come up behind you and make no attempt to go around, instead they just rear end you. Overall though, the whole experience is just a lot nicer than GT4 and I'm definitely looking forward to the final product. Polyphony is infamous for delays though, just take the PSP version of GT4 for example. Kazunori Yamauchi, the game's creator, has mentioned that GT5 might not be released until after 2009. Looks like we'll have to keep playing GT5P for the time being though online modes and two player split screen will keep it fun.

The second part of this article deals with the DualShock 3, another recently released product. This probably has to have been one of the most anticipated PS3 items this year, more so than any game. DualShock 3 adds rumble support. Sony did not include it in the original SixAxis due to a pending patent lawsuit, as I mentioned in a previous article. The DS3 is a little heavier than the old Sixaxis and it lacks the semi-transparent case. Other than that, the DS3 is identical to its predecessor. It retains motion sensing from the Sixaxis. Most PS3 games released since October 2007 support rumble. Some, such as Motorstorm, have been patched to add the feature. It's also compatible with most PS2 games. Sony claims it might not work with some though I tried it with Okami and GT4 without issues. The new controller costs $54 CAD though I did mention that Best Buy has it on sale this week for $20 if you purchase GT5P with it. It seems to be a hot item since when I bought mine on Friday, there was only one left on the shelf. The DS3 will definitely add a missing component to PS3. I'm still getting used to the rumble feature since I skipped out on the last console generation and I never bought the Rumblepack for my N64.

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