Summary: Our resident Gran Turismo Guru gets his hands on the Japanese release of Gran Turismo 5 Prologue. First Impressions? OMGWTFBBQ.
Sony has a system selling quadruple-A, driving simulation that turns the volume up to eleven. Gran Turismo 5 Prologue is that impressive. Remember when I reviewed GT3 and said it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time? Gran Turismo 5 brings that level of excitement back to the series. Part of this excitement comes from the fact that Polyphony Digital includes three of the hottest cars on the planet in this demo, the BMW 135i, the Mitsubishi Evo X, and the new Nissan GT-R.
Harnessing the Power of the Cell Broadband Engine
I’ve always argued that the PlayStation 3 was developed with a developer centric design. While Microsoft designed the Xbox 360 to be friendly toward all developers, Sony developed their console to support Polyphony Digital, Square Enix, and Konami. You can just imagine the FMV-happy Square Enix lobbying Sony for mandating that games be released on Blu-ray. In the case of Polyphony Digital, they’re the ones who probably influenced Sony to build Cell around the concept of cell computing and going with seven SPEs.
The PlayStation 3 architecture is perfect for driving games, and Gran Turismo 5 shows exactly what the PlayStation 3 is capable of doing in the right hands. While the Gran Turismo physics engine has always been very good, games like Enthusia have pushed the sense of realism even further. I haven’t had enough time to compare Gran Turismo 5’s physics engine to its competitors, but with the Logitech Driving Force Pro, the sense of realism is still superb once the simulation mode is tuned to professional.
Raising the Bar
The real magic of Gran Turismo 5 is its graphics. There has never been a game that looks as good as GT5. Not only are the cars better looking than the ones in the Project Gotham and Forza Motorsport games thanks to a more elegant lighting model, but they’re presented in full 1080p. Races now have 16 simultaneous cars, and your opponent AI is much smarter, and no longer resorts to playing bumper cars.
The free demo features the Suzuka track, the Nissan GT-R “Black Mask Edition”, the Lexus IS-F, Mazda Atenza (6), the Impreza WRX STi, Mitsubishi Evolution X GSR, Daihatsu OFC-1, and the BMW 135i coupe. Only the GT-R, Evo X, Daihatsu, and 135i are available as playable cars when you start. Your opponents, however, include the Ferarri F430, Audi R8, Audi TT, Dodge Viper, Ford Mustang GT, Mitsubishi Evo IX’s, TVR Tuscan, NSX, SL55 AMG, and the BMW Z4.
In game graphics are now just as good as the “replay graphics.”
I haven’t driven a 135i in real-life, nor a GT-R, nor an EVO X, so I really cannot comment on the realism of the audio. We’ll have to come back to this in the future. ;) That said, GT5 does take into account the dual clutch performance of the Evo X and GT-R and in my LIMITED testing, I found that the Evo X outhandles the 135i.
ADDENDUM: The 135i and Evo X both handle well but the EVO X is significantly faster on the track due to its braking performance.
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