Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec
The fact that we're still comparing every new racing game to Gran Turismo 3--which came out two and a half years ago--is a little scary. But you got any better ideas? Gran Turismo's influence even extends beyond videogamedom; former Mitsubishi CEO Takashi Kiuchi told Reuters, "Gran Turismo played a huge role in our decision to launch the Lancer Evolution in the United States." GTs success probably helped convince Nissan to bring the next Skyline GT-R here, too, though we're in for a wait: It won't launch until 2007.
Ultimate moment: Buying the car you own in real life, then tacking on a stage-three turbo, tuned suspension, and slicks. So that's what driving to the store at 150 mph would be like.
Download Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec
The reason you camped out overnight in the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart store just to get your hands on a PS2 has finally arrived. Granted, it was months ago that you slept in a line next to that smelly guy and up until now, you may have been questioning your dedication to Sony and the PS2. While we have seen some pretty decent games as of late (Red Faction, Twisted Metal Black), nothing has completely fulfilled my expectations of the PS2. I can no longer make that statement.
It seems like forever ago that Sony released the groundbreaking Gran Turismo for PSX then followed it up with Gran Turismo 2, adding more of everything. I need to confess up front that I am a huge fan of the series and I may be biased and a bit more forgiving because of it. So what should you expect out of GT3? Even more of everything? Unfortunately not, but don't let this discourage you because what you do get carries on the great GT tradition in the most beautiful fashion possible.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Before I go any further, I feel I need to clarify something. If you look at my review of Gran Turismo, you will see that I scored it a 96 and I scored GT2 a 94. I scored GT3 a 94 as well. Does this mean the original Gran Turismo is a better game than GT3? Not at all. GT3 is unquestionably the best game of the three but the original GT has a higher score because at the time the game was released, it was unlike any racing game before it. It was a trendsetter. It was the game that all racing games would be measured against. I believe that all racing games will now be measured against GT3 but the key difference is that they are working on perfecting the formula instead of creating something never before seen.
Okay, so on with the review. I wish I were able to just say 'this game rocks so do yourself a favor and go buy it.'? While this is how I feel, I guess I need to expand at least a little. I assume that most people have played the GT series so I will not go in to all of the nitty gritty details (go back and read the reviews for GT and GT2 if you are unfamiliar with the games). I will focus on the changes you will find in GT3.
GT3 essentially takes all of the tracks, modes and features of GT2 and updates them in a shiny new package. Is this a bad thing? No, considering GT2 is a great game. I have heard people complaining about how the game is just an updated version of GT2, which is mostly true, but there is only so much that can be done with this type of a racing game. I think that the developers decided to focus on using the PS2 hardware to make the game that they had originally envisioned when they started the series but were unable to accomplish due to the PSX hardware.
Another of the gripes I have heard people throwing around is the reduced number of cars in the game. GT2 had over 400 cars but GT3 has just over 100. While this may seem like a huge drop, and it is, I can see why the decision was made to cut the cars from the game. First, most of the cars that were dropped were either older, used cars (more on this later) or just different versions of the same car. There were very few new cars axed from the game. The second reason that they cut these cars out has to be because of the painstaking details found on each car. I have no idea how long it took them to create the car graphics but my guess is it was not easy. If they kept the entire roster of 400+ cars in the game, we would not be playing it right now.
With every sequel released comes the fear that some element of the game that made the originals so good got messed up. Rest assured that the trademark control of the vehicles is still intact and better than ever. Playing this game is pure driving joy. All of the modifications and adjustments made to your vehicle clearly change the performance and handling of the car. Just like in games past, you will spend hours upon hours racing to win money so you can add that next upgrade to your car. I could go on and on about the level of customization available but again, I will have you refer back to the original reviews as this has not changed much. Let's just say you can forget about sleep any time soon.
One area that I feel deserves to be singled out as a huge improvement over GT2 is the rally races. GT2 introduced rally racing as a sort of bonus. Rally racing now feels like it is just as much a part of the game as the road racing. While GT2 only had one rally track, GT3 has a number of combinations of tracks. The vehicles really feel like rally cars and the varied terrain on the tracks really gives you the excitement of rally racing. I think they have done such a great job with the rallies that I would welcome a GT rally exclusive game.
So we have established that everything you have ever loved about the GT series is out in full force but there are a few minor issues that should be brought up. I don't feel that any of these issues will hamper your fun with the game but they are things that should still be noted. The first, and most notable, is the removal of the used vehicles. I know I just justified the reasoning for this omission above but it was still a bummer not to have them available. Honestly, I really was not attached to the used cars themselves but they were nice because you could pick up a nice used car fairly cheap. Since you only have new cars to choose from, your options are very limited in the beginning as to the type of car you can purchase and it takes a long time before you are able to afford another new car. I guess I was just looking for more vehicle options early on instead of feeling locked in to the one car I could afford.
There is another issue that I have heard people complaining about and I can't say that I agree with it completely. The complaint is that the computer controlled cars act robotic and only race the proper line -- if they get knocked off the line, they do whatever it takes to get back in proper formation. I will agree that there are times where this does happen but if you watch any professional racing event, isn't this the case with human drivers too? There is a reason it is called a racing line. The only time racers leave the line is to pass or on corners. The AI cars in GT3 will leave the line to pass or they will have problems around some corners so, while it may look robotic, they are using good fundamental racing techniques.
My last minor complaint is with some inconstancies in specifications. For example, they have a stock Mitsubishi 3000 GT VR4 listed as 276 HP at the dealer. After you purchase the car and bring it to the tune-up center, before adding any modifications, the HP is listed at 306. Worst of all, if you were to go out and buy one in real life, it has 320 HP stock. Does this affect the gameplay or detract from the overall experience of the game? Not at all but it just seems strange that they did not get all of these little things ironed out.
The multiplayer is your standard split screen racing. I am not a big fan of split screen racing (personal preference) but for what it was, the split screen does a decent job. I never ran into any slow down and only a minimal loss in graphics quality. The game also supports the iLink so you can hook up eight PS2's and battle your buddies full screen. I was unable to test this feature but I did try it out at E3 and it was a blast. If you have Ilink, I suggest you try it out.
Wow. Amazing. Awesome. Unbelievable. Drop in whatever adjective you can think up right here. This game looks freakin' amazing. In reading this review, up until now, you may have not found reason enough to go buy this game over GT2. Right here is the reason. The biggest downside to the original two games was the graphics. GT3 finally matches the graphics with the gameplay. I could go on and on about all of the incredible things you will see in this game but you still need to see it to believe it. Everything from the car models to the incredible sun effects, the graphics scream beauty. If you really had to pick something to complain about, there is one track that has a bit of pop up and there are times where the cars have slight jaggies but these instances are few and far between.
This game rocks, so do yourself a favor and go buy it now. Don't listen to anyone telling you otherwise. We finally have a Gran Turismo game with beautiful graphics to match the incredible gameplay. Sure they cut some things back but based on what we got, I have no problem with that. One word of caution though; this game will suck away hours of your life. I have been playing on and off for a week and I am only 28% complete with the game. When you hear boasts of over 100 hours of gameplay, I suggest you take them seriously.