In its 10-year history, Gran Turismo has redefined the racing genre, creating the most realistic, in-depth and fun driving simulator around. Following the brief taster that was Gran Turismo HD Concept, GT fans finally get their first in-depth look at the next generation world of Gran Turismo with Gran Turismo 5: Prologue on PlayStation 3.
Gran Turismo 5 itself is due to arrive in 2009, which, if you're a Gran Turismo fan, is a long way away. That's where GT5: Prologue comes in, giving you a tantalising glimpse of what awaits in GT5 while still providing more than enough content and enjoyment to keep even the most diehard GT fan happy.
One careful owner
On loading up GT5: Prologue for the first time, the first thing you must do is head to the Dealership to buy yourself a car, from big name manufacturers such as Ford, Jaguar, Aston Martin and Lotus. Once you've kitted yourself out with a shiny new motor it's off to the track. You can choose either to jump straight into Arcade Mode for a quick racing fix, or take your time with the Event Mode, where you can earn more credits to put towards brand new cars. In total there are 71 cars for you to choose from, and six tracks, ranging from the majestic mountains of the Eiger Nordwand to the tarmac straights of Daytona, and even a section of central London, lovingly recreated in photo-realistic detail.
Event mode consists of 30 races, split across three different classes. Initially you'll be racing cars from the more affordable end of the spectrum, such as the Ford Focus ST '06, the Peugeot 207GTI '07 and the iconic Mini Cooper-S '06. Keep winning races and gaining credits and you can move up from C Class to B Class, where you'll be taking on beefier cars such as Ford GTs and Nissan Skylines, and finally to A Class, where the supercars sit, including the amazing F1 2007 Ferrari.
Name that tune
Complete A Class and you unlock the ultimate challenge of S Class, as well as Quick Tune - a new feature that allows you to tinker with your vehicle to your heart's content, adjusting weight ratios, camber angles, aerodynamics, torque balance, gear ratios and other settings, to get the maximum performance out of your cars. You can test your combinations out on the track as well, by assigning different configurations to buttons on the SIXAXIS Wireless Controller and switching between them on the fly. It all makes a difference - the physics are incredibly realistic and your car will react to every slight bump on the track so slight adjustments to the suspension and aerodynamics can make the difference between winning and losing at the higher levels.
As you would expect from a Gran Turismo game, GT 5: Prologue looks absolutely incredible. The lighting effects and car models are some of the best ever seen on PlayStation 3 and the game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second in glorious 1080p resolution throughout. The new interface looks great too, oozing quality while providing easy access to the features you need. Everything in the game is accessed from the My Page screen, a series of easy-to-navigate menus accompanied by beautiful high-res shots of your chosen car in an exotic locale. From here you can access the different race modes, the dealership to buy new cars, racing news to keep you up to date with the world of motorsport and the brand new Gran Turismo TV, a video channel full of driving content, including highlight shows, races and episodes of the BBC motoring show Top Gear.
From here you can also access the Online Mode, where you can race with up to 15 other players at a time, or race to get the best lap times to go into an online leaderboard. This is in addition to the two-player, split-screen mode that is new to GT5: Prologue, perfect for when you have friends round for indulging in a little automotive competition.
Petrolheads out there have no excuse for not picking up what is without a doubt the most comprehensive driving experience on PlayStation 3 to date. Everything about the experience screams quality, from the menu screens to the races themselves and there's enough to see, do and experience here that the wait for Gran Turismo 5 is going to seem much, much shorter. If you love cars, driving, and the open road, then you'll love Gran Turismo 5: Prologue, it's as simple as that.