Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
- Polyphony Digital
Remember back in 2000, when everybody used the lobby scene from The Matrix to show off their new DVD players and surround-sound systems? Gran Turismo 5 Prologue could easily become the eye-candy of choice for new PlayStation 3 owners. The game is beautiful. And while this gets said nearly every generation, there really are moments when it's hard to discern between the game and reality. (Well, not reality, so much as the automotive ideal as put forth by Michael Bay commercials and Car And Driver magazine.) The way the light plays off the game's vehicles as they tear across scenic countrysides is awe-inspiring and occasionally unsettling.
All the hyper-realism unravels a bit when players kick the tires. There's no paint traded when racers bump against each other—no damage at all, really. The cars simply, surreally shove each other out of the way. Online, the illusion unravels even more. Slow modems or erratic driving can cause racers to go transparent and pass, ghostlike, through the rest of the pack.
Still, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is in a class by itself when it comes to racing simulation. Cars and tracks are re-created immaculately, as are the vehicles' physics and performance. Hardcore racers are sure to find endless hours of enjoyment unlocking exotic cars and fine-tuning their performance. The average bloke will likely take a couple laps, hit a figurative brick wall when the game gets tough, then file the disc away for the next time they need to demo their new plasma screen for guests.
Beyond the game: That "prologue" at the end of the game's name suggests that this is a mere taste of what we can expect from the real Gran Turismo 5. Hopefully, the game's designers will notice that the online racing tastes a tad undercooked.
Worth playing for: Cockpit view really drives home the immersion. Real-time shadows fall on the steering wheel and dashboard when you turn. The only detail that's missing are bugs on the windshield.
Frustration sets in when: Serious racing games aren't just about putting the pedal to the metal. Much patience, persistence, and precision are needed to master tight turns and shave seconds off your lap time. Newcomers should expect to attack the same race over and over before they get it right.
Final judgment: The real slowing-down-for-sharp-turns simulator.