Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Review

Review by Kevin Parrish.

In our continuing coverage of recent racing titles, Tom's Games takes the PlayStation 3 exclusive Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for a test spin. But does the prologue offer enough content?
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  1. In a lot of ways I really like GT5P:
    - Graphically it's easily superior to any other racing title on ANY platform.
    - Car dynamics are as good as Forza 2, which is as good as it gets for console racers (not up to PC sim standards, but good).
    - In-car mode is mind blowing... with fully instrumented interiors, functional gauges and displays (including the GTR multifunction display and the Vette HUD)
    - Full support for the Logitech G25... which is far and away the best wheel on the market.
    - A fair selection of cars given the Prologue nature of the title, and the few tracks it has provide a fairly diverse driving experience.
    - Decent multiplayer support and some cool add-ons like in game news and video content.

    It's got all the fundamentals in place to be a solid and enjoyable diversion as we wait patiently for the full game... and it's moderately successful but with some VERY frustrating shortcomings.

    - Poor gameplay - This is a title who's architect claims to target "Making the most realistic driving simulation available", but the gameplay takes fundamentals that would indeed provide for realistic gameplay and turns it sadly arcade-like. The game provides you with a series of 'classes' of increasing difficulty, within each class you need to win a number of 'races', and you can't progress to the next class until you complete them all.

    The problem starts with the way the races are structured. There's no qualifying (like real life) or getting staged relative to the performance of your car (Forza's approach) and having opponents that drive cars performing for them as well as they'd perform for you. Instead you get thrown to the back of the pack with 3 or 5 laps to pass the entire field, in early races you're so much faster than your opponents that it's a matter of scooting around them without incident, later it's a matter of driving so absurdly aggressive that you'd be thrown out of any racing series after one race.

    All this time, your opponents are busy either ignoring you're there and ramming you, running through the grass at 180mph without any apparent difficulty, or sitting in the middle of the track, apparently taking a 'break' during the middle of the race - except for one or two in every race who are usually 10+ seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.

    Another type of race involves having to pass the ENTIRE field in a single lap... which takes merely unrealistic and kicks it up to the absurd.

    The only well done race type is the traditional time trial where you have 10 minutes to beat a target time, with added traffic to make things interesting.

    There's also no fuel, no tire wear (no tire modeling at all... you get nice constant grip), no brake fade (no brake modeling either, perfectly repeatable braking in any conditions), no telemetry, no pit stops (no reason for pit stops), no speed limit in the pits, no car upgrades (other than buying 'tuned' versions of cars and being able to adjust HP, Weight, Downforce, and suspension parameters with some sliders. I'm sure I'm missing a lot of other stuff that's missing.

    There is a 'Drifting' sub-game available for those who enjoy that, I can't say much about how well they did at that because it's not my thing and I have not even tried out that aspect of the game.

    There is also the standard time trial mode where you race your fastest ghost, which works well and lets you tweak your technique... but it all means zilch in the race portion of the game since for the most part you can't actually follow a repeatable line (since you've got to constantly be challenging and passing opponents).

    In the top class 'S', you get penalties for taking shortcuts and ramming, which is an alternative to damage modeling. It seems like the implementation is pretty poor at this point though, often letting you get away with bad behavior, then giving you penalties when other cars ram you. When you get a penalty you coast and ghost out so opponents can drive through you for a couple seconds. In some cases can actually work to your advantage, like when you're braking into a congested corner, you ghost out, drive through a couple cars in front of you, then return to normal in time to power out of the corner.

    So in the analysis, gameplay is about as UNrealistic as it's possible to make a game with this much promise... and is very disappointing.

    That being said, the multiplayer is decent and more realistic (if you don't get a race of drivers trying to be silly), the game IS challenging, and the price is very reasonable - so it's worth buying even with its faults.

    I just hope the full game doesn't follow the same model.
  2. As an avid pc gamer I crossed to the dark side and purchased a ps3 over the weekend. Being a GTR2 player and Race07 player and using a logitech G25 wheel I was skeptical! I used my Samsung 22" 226bw and my logitech g25 on the ps3 as my "test" platform. Running the monitors naive resolution at 1680x1050 didnt work so I had to use 1280x720(720p).. This game STILL looks amazing.. Even at 720 this game looks better than any other racing sim ive ever owned. Now when the game is fully released we can make a comparison on the "physics"
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