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July 2, 2004
Gran Turismo 4: Prologue - Review
Release Date Distributor Developer Players Rating Difficulty
28/5/2004SonyPolyphony Digital1GMedium
Save Size Sound Format Vibration 60Hz Mode 50Hz Border Widescreen
64KBDolby PLIIYesYesSmallYes

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The car detail is superb.
It seems like we have been waiting forever for Gran Turismo 4? Everyone was set for the game to be released in late 2003, then early 2004, then mid 2004, currently it's November 2004, but rumours are pointing to early 2005 now - let's hope they aren't true. Kazunori Yamauchi, the creator of Gran Turismo developed Gran Turismo 4: Prologue as a preview to the full game and was release in Japan in late 2003. In essence it's a very, very big demo that will keep you entertained for weeks, and give gamers an early look at the biggest racing title in years. Here's what Mr Yamauchi had to say about this game "GT4 Prologue is an exclusive 'Advanced Skills School', designed with the most ambitious drivers in mind. It provides an opportunity to prepare for the imminent challenge of GT4 - an essential test-drive for potential champions."

So what's in Gran Turismo 4: Prologue then? Essentially theg game allows you to unlock 54 cars by completing 46 different license tests, or driving lessons. What is nice about the tests is that a woman introduces you and explains not only what you have to do, but why it will be so crucial to succeeding in races. As with previous Gran Turismo titles players are awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals depending on their performance. When you complete the test you unlock that car for the arcade modes. As well as that the game includes an arcade mode which has five different tracks to race on. These tracks include Tsukuba and Fuji Speedway, two Japanese based tracks. New York is a track not seen in earlier titles, and really shows off the game in all its glory. It will take some time to master, however, as the corners are hard to see against the building backdrops.

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Gorgeous motion blur.
The real highlights in the track departments are Citta di Aria in Italy and Th Grand Canyon, both of which are rally styled events. There are no other cars on tracks, it's a race against the clock, and a vastly different style of driving is required to street racing.

The new physics and car handling engine is quite phenomenal with cars handling realistically on all surfaces and being extremely different in their reactions to the cars. While the game doesn't include crashes, and nor will the final game, the developers have included a 10 second, 50km/h penalty for heavy collisions, with other cars, or parts of the track. Finally the game now supports the all new Logitech Driving Force Pro wheel with 900 degrees of wheel rotation - the first, and only, game to do so.

I would love to say this game is perfect, and indeed it's probably as close as possible in terms of actual gameplay. However, while playing this game you can't get the feeling out of your head that it could have been so much more. No, I don't mean the full game, but when you consider the final Gran Turismo 4 will include over 500 cars, 50 tracks, online gameplay and more, well everything. Paying half the price of the full game, but only getting around 10% of the game leaves you feeling a little ripped off. Another disappointment, although Polyphony Digital have always stated it wouldn't be included is the lack of collision damage.

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In the streets of Italy.
One area I was surprised about was the draw-in and pop-up on some of the stages, particularly New York. It's not noticeable while you're racing around the track at 200km/h but when you're sitting back watching the game it is quite noticeable. One can only hope that all this extra development time will help alleviate this problem in the final version. Apart from that little niggle everything else is simply superb. The cars are perfectly detailed and the game maintains a rock steady frame rate, even with five opponents on the course. The texturing is impressive however it's the visual effects such as reflections, lens flare and smoke/dust which really make the game realistic. The menu presentation is second to none and the replays are easily among the best seen in a game.

Audio is, as you would expect, a sensational part of this game. The car engines well as far as I can tell, realistic with effects changing perfectly as the car runs over different surfaces. The menu effects are the same as the previous game while the music will get you pumping to race.

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The open Japanese race track.
Well this game really is a game to wet the appetites of gamers. I can't get over the fact, however, that this game retails for $AU59.95. In Japan the game sells for about 2,660 yen through Amazon, or $AU34.70, a much more reasonable price for what you get. Unless you're a mad Gran Turismo fan, or want to test your new Logitech Driving Force Pro wheel there is little reason to spend the money on this title. Still, you'll get a lot more excitement out of Gran Turismo 4: Prologue then 90% of other racing games. It's your choice.

Note: As a bonus the European and Australian version of Gran Turismo 4: Prologue includes an exclusive "Making of Gran Turismo 4" DVD with interviews, still pictures and videos about the full game. Unfortunately this was not supplied for the purposes of this review.

Review By: David Warner

GRAPHICSStill some draw-in but overall one of the best looking games ever.
SOUNDGreat engine effects, and that is the most important thing really.
GAMEPLAYStill the best driving experience, but still no in-game car damage.
VALUEOnly 40 driving tests, 50 cars, 5 tracks, no multi-player. Needs more.
OVERALLGran Turismo 4: Prologue is technically a great game, and even includes more then some other "full" racing titles. The problem is you can never get over the fact that you have to pay $59.95 for this game.

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