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March 27, 2008
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue - PS3 Review Page 1
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
27/3/2008SonySonyPolyphony Digital1-22-16
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating

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The car models are absolutely stunning.
Since it was first released in 1997 Sony's Gran Turismo franchise has generate almost 50 million sales around the globe. Every new release is met with much anticipation and fanfare, and this couldn't be more evident with pre-orders for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue approaching one million units in Europe alone. But with each "full" game taking so long to develop, and the fate of an entire platform potentially resting on the release of that game what are Sony, and developers Polyphony Digital to do when the release of the full game - in this case Gran Turismo 5 - is more then a year away (as Sony America has recently confirmed). Well, you create a "Prologue" title, a version which lies somewhere between a demo and the full-blown game.

It has been done before of course. Several years ago Sony released Gran Turismo 4 Prologue on the Playstation 2 which was a solid teaser for what was to become one of the greatest racing games of all time in Gran Turismo 4. Will this latest release follow a similar pattern? Time will tell... but let's get onto the review.

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The BMW 135i Coupe '07 is included!
So as a car racing game the most important thing to look at what is actually included on the disc (or download if you choose to purchase the title that way!) for Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. The first, and most exciting aspect of this release is that American, European and Australian gamers have received an significant boost in car numbers, up from around 40 in the Japanese release to 71 in ours. Many major manufacturers are represented including BMW, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Lotus, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Ford, Dodge, Mazda, Honda and - under much fanfare - Ferrari. If you want to see the full car list then check out our preview of the game here.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue includes six tracks to race on which is one more then the Japanese release. These tracks include Eiger Nordwand, Daytona International Speedway, London, Fuji Speedway, Suzuka and the High Speed Ring, with two variations with each circuit. The new track in our version of the game is the High Speed Ring.

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Look familiar? Remember Gran Turismo HD?
There are two main offline game modes. The first are the Events which allow you to enter into three classes (A, B and C) and partake in 30 different events of increasing difficulty. The events come in three main forms. The first sees you trying to overtake the 15 other racers within a single lap. The second sees you trying to reach a target lap time within a 10 minute period while the third type of event is a standard race. As you finish each event you earn credits depending on your performance which can then be used to purchase new, and improved, vehicles for use in the many game modes.

The arcade mode is another area which could keep you occupied for hours as you enter races, time trials and drift modes. One of the most impressive aspects of this is that if, for instance you enter a Time Trial, your times will be ranked against other gamers around the world. If you want you can then check the Rankings from around the world and categorise by the track and cars.

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The all new in-car viewpoint rocks.
Multi-player is heavily supported in Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. First of all the developers have included a 2-player split-screen mode which is tremendous fun, but for a real blast you'll want to take this game online. Unlike the Japanese version of the game that saw them waiting a couple of weeks to play online following the release of the title that is built into our version - although you will have to download a pretty hefty 220MB patch before you can actually play! Polyphony Digital have included online racing for up to 16-players at once. The races are pre-setup with 35 race configurations currently available to select from.

Are there disappointments with online racing? Sadly yes, quite a few in fact. There is no voice communications so you can't chat to opponents, there is no lobby system so you can't join matches that your friends are in, and there aren't any private matches either. Fortunately Sony has confirmed that much of this is being worked on for a patch down the track. Finally, and more disappointingly when playing online opponent cars tend to jump and twitch their way around the tracks. Now I thought this could be due to limited bandwidth on other people connections, but it happened far too frequently. It doesn't destroy the online experience, but it is annoying. Also, there can be a lengthy wait for players to be matched together to start races - something which could have been eliminated with friends and private matches.

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GT-TV will hopefully be updated soon.
There are some other pretty impressive bits to enjoy too. Upon booting the game you will be presented with a the main screen which, if you have already purchased a vehicle with the dealerships, shows the car you currently have selected on a gorgeously rendered background. If you're online the system will even show the date and time, although for some reason we keep receiving the message upon startup that our date and time are out of sync. It is possible to save replays of races, and watch them at your leisure. GT-TV will allow you to download episodes of Top Gear, or videos from Car Shows around the world. Nothing has been confirmed as yet, and there aren't any videos online just yet, but we expect there to be a small fee for such downloads.

The other big aspect of this game you're all wanting to know about I'm sure is how the game actually plays. The races include up to 16 cars on track and it gets pretty fast and frantic. Be it the high speed thrills on Daytona, or the Technical skills required on Suzuka there is plenty to enjoy, and master. Each of the cars handles superbly. Every bump and curve on the track affects how the car handles on the road, and how it reacts. While we don't have a steering wheel with us at the moment many major brands are supported, including Logitech, and the results should certainly speak for themselves. After you have completed all 30 of the Event races you will unlock a tuning mode so you can, well, tune and tweak the cars to your liking.

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