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March 27, 2008
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue - PS3 Review Page 2
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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Inside one of the many BMW cars.
Sadly, there are several issues which we had with this game. Let's start with the big one - the lack of visible car damage - let alone damage that affects performance and handling. It's time to get in the now Sony and Polyphony Digital. Many competitors are offering realistic car damage - and before you shout "the car manufacturers won't allow it" how about you check out games like Forza 2, Ferrari Challenge and Colin McRae DIRT. If a manufacturer won't allow damage, drop them from the game - at least that will speed up development time by removing their cars, and we're sure they'd come around soon enough!

So what else do we have to complain about. Well, first of all Gran Turismo 5 Prologue requires a very hefty install to the Hard Drive of 6GB (that is, despite a claim on the back of the box that only 250kb is required!). Following that there is a substantial patch to download from Sony's servers of around 220MB. While Sony keeps touting the virtues of Blu-Ray, including the massive amounts of space, there is obviously data transfer issues to require such a hefty initial install. It doesn't bode well for the full release which will have hundreds of cars, and dozens of tracks. What are we going to see, a 20GB install? 30GB perhaps?

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Surprise! Ferrari's 2007 F1 car is included!
Another issue is that we found the game a bit too easy - especially in the offline Events. We're not driving game fanatics here, but most of the races could be completed - and in first place - on the first or second attempt. After we completed most of the races we then realised we didn't have anywhere near the credits to buy the Ferrari F430 required for one of the last races, thereby forcing us to re-enter several of the races to earn enough credits to spend. Also where are the pit stops? Why can't we replay online multi-player races?

The real question has to be is this value for money? If you're a car fanatic that really is a no brainer, this is an essential purchase. If, though, you're only a casual gamer then I would suggest you think about what you're buying. 71 cars is quite a few, but many are quite similar so that number can be decreased. Likewise the six included tracks really become quite repetitive, even with two variations of each and the fact that Eiger Nordwand was released as the free Gran Turismo HD demo doesn't help and nor does the fact that the 'variations' of a couple of tracks are simply those tracks in reverse. The one element of this game which helps push it into 'must have' and 'value for money' territory though is the inclusion of split-screen and online racing which, as we've mentioned above, is a blast. The Australian version has been priced at $AU59.95 which is a little over half the price of many full-blown titles on the PS3.

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2-player split-screen is great fun.
Much has been made of the exceptional graphical quality of the cars in Gran Turismo 5, and indeed they are a sight to behold. Each car apparently takes one person over six months to model and, to allow the in-car viewpoint the interiors have also been modeled. The game runs at a solid 60fps in-game with the replay dropping back to 30fps to allow for more dramatic camera movements and improved effects such as dust and heat haze. The tracks themselves look astounding. London's buildings actually look like buildings from London. Daytona is pretty plain, but when you fly around there at 300km/hr it looks sensational with a brilliant sense of speed. Lighting and shadows look superb with reflections of objects on cars, and realistic shadows thrown by buildings and cars onto the track. The menu design is clean and easy to navigate while the text is also clear to read - at least it certainly was on our 46" 1080p HDTV!

The graphics though, aren't perfect. Despite the supreme power of the PS3, the lengthy development time, and the great history of Polyphony Digital, the game still had some screen tearing. By that I mean that parts of the screen were moving out of sync with the other parts. This was particularly evident when you were racing right behind other cars, or moving slowly around certain tracks including London. It is infrequent, and doesn't damage the gameplay at all, but it is evident, and disappointing.

Another graphical annoyance is that when playing from the external viewpoint and you crash into barriers, walls or other cars there is actually a gap between the two objects, despite the collision being confirmed with scraping noises, a speed reduction and vibration through the controller. Hopefully this will be looked at one day as it's quite off putting. Finally, should you happen to run through a gravel trap, and while there is plenty of dust kicked up, there are no groves or tracks left behind. There is certainly no terrain deformation like that in Motorstorm which is very disappointing and, to be honest, quite unexpected for such a high profile title.

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Tearing around the streets of London.
Have you ever played a Gran Turismo title? If so, then you will know exactly what to expect from this audio in this game. Each of the cars has been accurately recorded for inclusion in this game and each engine actually has a different sound. As one would expect you can tell exactly how hard the engine is revving simply by the audio. One big change is the inclusion of Dolby Digital 5.1 audio or, if you have the means and audio setup, Linear PCM 7.1 audio over HDMI cable. This audio offers a much improved sound field so you can instantly tell when a car is coming up behind you, and accurately tell whether the car is located to the left or right of your own. It's also possible to tell when you're in the slipstream of a car ahead as the noise of the wind rushing past decreases significantly - perhaps a little too much actually.

Background music during races is also impressive for the most part. It's varied, up tempo and suits the game perfectly. Should it start to annoy though it is possible to turn the music right off if it does start to annoy and it must be said though that it was disappointing to learn that America will receive around a dozen new tracks when they get their hands on Gran Turismo 5 Prologue in a few weeks.

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No, this is not pre-rendered folks!
Still not all is perfect in terms of audio as the title doesn't really take the series to new levels with little innovation. It would have been nice to have some optional commentary during the races, perhaps some more music or even the option to import and use your own stored on the PS3 Hard Drive (what better game to push a new feature like that on the PS3!). Finally I was a bit annoyed that the developers haven't changed that familiar, and I would suggest somewhat dated, confirmation audio in the menus.

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is a great indicator for things to come, but isn't an essential purchase unless you're a big racing fan, or want to race thousands of others online. One can only hope that Polyphony Digital take many of these criticisms to heart and look at improving the final, and full, game - in much the same way they dramatically improved the game from Gran Turismo 4 Prologue to Gran Turismo 4 a couple of years ago on PS2. The biggest question we have to ask is; Is this good value for money? Our suggestion - shop around, or wait for a decrease. It's not worth the full price of admission unless you live and breathe the franchise.

Review By: Dave Warner

GRAPHICSGreat car models and tracks, but screen tearing and no deformation or damage to cars or tracks!? Nice menus and interface.
SOUNDGreat car engines, some solid music, still no race commentary. Meh... Still, there is PCM 7.1 audio which rocks!
GAMEPLAYSo 1990's. Where's the car damage? Where's the qualifying?
VALUE$AU60 for a glorified demo. Not the best value in our books.
OVERALLGran Turismo 5 Prologue is an interesting prospect. Technically it's good but it really hasn't moved much from previous versions. Where's the innovation? Where's the damage? Why the hell is there screen tearing still?! It pains me to say, but this isn't an essential purchase.

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