Gran Turismo 5 Prologue Review for PS3

On: PS3
GT5 Prologue isn't quite as polished as we'd hoped it would be
GT5 Prologue isn't quite as polished as we'd hoped it would be

GT5 Prologue isn't quite as polished as we'd hoped it would be

I must have poured hundreds of hours into Gran Turismo 3. Released during the summer before I started university, Polyphony Digital's first entry in the series for PS2 proved to be a good enough reason to prevent me from getting a summer job - after all, I had to devote all my time to the lucrative, but oh so dull endurance races so my car collection could grow to obscene proportions. It's fair to say that GT3 was a phenomenon. Back in 2001 the game was dropping jaws all over the world and sales to date stand at around 15 million units. To put that into context, that's more than the combined worldwide sales of Halo and Halo 2 on the Xbox. Gran Turismo is about as big as racing games come.

So, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue should represent something of a milestone for the PlayStation 3. As the first retail Gran Turismo for Sony's latest console you'd expect sales of the console to soar and Sony fans the world over to be rejoicing. And they are, just not quite as jubilantly as you might expect. GT5 Prologue is in fact just a teaser for what we're going to get from the full GT5 when it's released next year. What we get in this budget £25 release is six tracks (Eiger Nordwand, Daytona International Speedway, the London City Track, Fuji Speedway, Suzuka and the High Speed Ring) drivable in two layouts, 71 cars, car tuning, 16-player online support, two-player split-screen and more. Not bad by any means, but don't be fooled into thinking this is any more than a prelude to the big event.

Anyone who's played a game in the GT series will instantly recognise the sleek menus and presentation. From the off the game's so trendy it's just missing a bouncer asking for ID at the door and checking for trainers. It's GT through and through, with options and game modes galore. You've got News, GT TV, Online, Rankings, Arcade, 2P, Events, Garage, Dealerships and Replay. Again, for £25 that's a fair amount of content and it rubbishes any claims that GT5 Prologue is little more than a demo.

The core modes are Events, Arcade and Online. While Prologue doesn't include an all encompassing career mode, Events is where you'll find the most traditional GT experience. After buying your first car it's time to enter the Class C races your car is eligible for, earning credits for your performances. Build up enough credits and you can buy another car, giving you access to more events, and repeat the cycle until your garage is full of cars from Class A, B and C and you're whipping the competition every time you take to the track.

'The game looks completely stunning for the most part. Car models are incredible, the detail in the tracks is at times breathtaking and the 1080p visuals are to die for...'

Newcomers will find Prologue's cars pretty tricky to get to grips with at first. Even compared to Microsoft's Forza series, at first it feels as if you're cornering at walking pace. A number of driving options (Transmission, Active steering, Driving Physics, Active Stability Management, Traction Control and Driving Control) are available so you can tailor the handling to your skill level, but even with all the assists on things take a little getting used to. For some the sim nature of the car physics will be too much to handle, but persevere and the physics really comes into their own.

What doesn't impress nearly as much is the way your AI rivals behave during races. The GT series has always been criticised for its racing experience and GT5 Prologue doesn't improve things a great deal. The car handling is never questioned, but compared to its competitors (Forza 2 and PGR4) races in GT5 Prologue feel far too much like processions. At times while playing Forza 2 you could have mistaken an AI driver for a real-life opponent, but no such mistake could be made while playing Prologue. Things aren't helped by the way your car bounces off competitors, without any damage in sight - compounded further if you're not using a Dual Shock 3.

You'll really only get a true sense of the depth to the car physics once you unlock the Quick Tune options and the 10 S-Class races (achieved by completing all 30 A-C Class events). By this time you're likely to have been playing for longer than it takes to complete current PS3 big hitters Uncharted or Ratchet and Clank, perhaps even both. You'll still only have a small number of the 71 cars too, so there's no question you'll get your money's worth from Prologue. Tweaking your car settings and going after the S-Class races will take longer still, if you've got the skill needed to win. The included Arcade mode also offers a more instant way to sample the tracks on offer in the game, and a number of manufacturer specific events can be accessed from within the Dealership menu.

Sadly an erratic frame rate blemishes a stunning looking game

Sadly an erratic frame rate blemishes a stunning looking game

The game looks completely stunning for the most part. Car models are incredible, the detail in the tracks is at times breathtaking and the 1080p visuals are to die for, but there are a few unsightly blemishes. The aforementioned lack of damage is more jarring than it ever has been, with the lack of damage totally ruining any sense of realism. The frame rate, something the series is known for, also fluctuates far too often. During certain corners when the cars stack up the game really starts to chug and this is usually accompanied by some ugly screen tearing. Those fake backgrounds, most noticeable on the Eiger Nordwand track, also don't quite fit. To my eyes they stick out like a sore thumb.

What is without doubt the biggest disappointment of all is the online implementation. It's currently woefully behind what we've got in Forza 2 and PGR4, lacking even basic support for custom races. Support for up to 16 players is excellent, but without a friends list or any proper match making you're left to pick from the 35 events currently listed. You can't organise races with friends or browse races taking place, and unless you own the required car and have completed the required single-player events your choice online is extremely limited. After starting the game with the cheapest Honda available at the dealership my online events were restricted to two races on the two most basic tracks in the game. There are online leaderboards for anyone interested in time trials, but anyone expecting Forza 2 levels of online brilliance will find nothing of the sort.

In the end GT5 Prologue is pretty essential for GT fans but its enhanced demo nature is more than obvious in various parts of the package. For £25 (even cheaper if you shop around) you'll get more play time than many full-price titles, but with a severely limited online mode and some visual blemishes it's hard not to be a little disappointed. Hopefully Prologue really is just a tiny part of what we'll get with Gran Turismo 5 next year.

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Reda Borchardt's Avatar
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Reda Borchardt

I have played Forza 2, All GT's, PGR4, GTR and GTR2, Rfactor, Enhtusia, LiveForSpeed (not nfs) on PC and Race07.

Using a Logitech G25, GT5 Prologue beats every single console game listed above in terms of feel, fun and car behavior. Only GTR2, LiveForSpeed and Race07 are more realistic. However, the PC games are not automatically more fun. GT5 Prologue has something that makes it incredibly fun to play.

As for online mode - yes, the it's limited. Very limited.
On the other hand, this game has finally perfected the online experience by avoiding collisions with other cars that behave erratically. I do not know any other game that has done such a good job at this.

What I really miss is the ability to talk to each other during the race. Microsoft has done a very good job with that on the Xbox. Kudos to Bill Gates!

One more thing... I like the fact that the number of events is limited. I can now find a sessions within 30 seconds. Compared to PGR3 or Forza 2 after they got a bit dated, that's a big improvement. There is nothing more frustrating than having one hundred thousand players online and having to wait for a 5 lap race to finish before being able to enter the session. If you are unlucky, the host then switches to a car class or track you did not want. Effectively, wasting 10 minutes of your life standing in virtual line.

Kind regards
Reda Borchardt
Posted 07:53 on 31 March 2008
Chris's Avatar
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Chris

I agree with CrimsonIdol, at least i think i do...

Sure you can defend it and say its a demo and doesn't represent the full game but a) why release a flawed demo b) since when did you have to pay so much for demos?

Yes, i'll probably buy it. But if it does have flaws there is no way sane people can defend it and say 'its only a demo'... demo yes but still with flaws...
Posted 02:59 on 31 March 2008
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Bull

Seeing all the mix comments about GT, CrimsonIdol is correct about that the game is a demo or even a beta. Its obvious there would want feedback, the better the feedback the better the actual full game will be when its released next year. Must take that into account as well don't just slate a game which has been released out on demo or even beta.

It was like that with Turok when the actual game come out, people ate there own words and said the game was brillant. So it seems that people on here don't give games a try out first, and then obvious slate the game because it doesn't perform to your standards. Don't forget it needs to compete against Forza 2 and PGR4 I wont even bother mentioning ProStreet as that was utter rubbish because I brought the full game finished it. And it didn't really impress me at all, you see buying the full game gives off a verdict than slating a demo verison off the game.
Posted 20:57 on 30 March 2008
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disappointed

Utter dung! Cant believe I have paid 20 quid for such an unfinished piece of sh*t! Just be done and call it "Bumper cars with flashy graphics" Utter sh*te! AVOID!
Posted 15:06 on 30 March 2008
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Bored already

GT5 is prob the most boring game I've played in a long time, you can't get away with great graphics and no game play.
Posted 14:54 on 30 March 2008
CrimsonIdol's Avatar
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CrimsonIdol

the criticisms are very fair. people saying its stupid to compare it to full games gotta realise that this "demo" or "beta" (terms used to its defence) costs the nearly the same as these other full games.
Posted 12:21 on 30 March 2008
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scotty

Well i think this demo thing is more like a beta which they will then implament things we want into the game for release in the full version, plus they are probably still testing alot of the things complained about?
they better start thinking about crash damage this isnt the 90's!
Posted 06:29 on 30 March 2008
Rogue_Soul's Avatar

Rogue_Soul

Stop telling porkies 'player'.

The game does suffer from slowdown/dip in framerate... as well 'popup' and screen tearing.
Posted 03:03 on 30 March 2008
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Anonymous

PS3 fanboys make me giggle.
And before you all get your backs up im a pc gamer not a 360 one.
Posted 00:22 on 30 March 2008
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Player

There´s must be a mistake! I think the review is a crap because I have a copy of the game and since it´s lanch I´ve never see any kind of slowdowns in offline or online! Run this or others PS3´games in a "atomic" LCD W3000 or X3000 with a QED winning award HDM 1.3 cable and then write decent reviews!
Posted 15:26 on 29 March 2008
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nublet

bravo. good job on criticizing an incomplete demo for slowdown and lack of online features. even better, you compared this demo to full release games. wow...
Posted 11:53 on 29 March 2008
Dzidza's Avatar
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Dzidza

Why comparing fully released Forza 2 with demo game. Patches will arrive and improve game. When gt5 is released then you can compare it to prg3,4 forza2,3 etc.
Posted 15:17 on 28 March 2008
gualshock3's Avatar

gualshock3

good thing is its just your veiw this baby will rock hate it or love it the king is back on top....ps3 and GT ah huh!!
Posted 14:05 on 28 March 2008
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AMK

And the you go GT5 is merelly a GT with better graphics and more slowdowns :) Go PS3 GO!
Posted 11:52 on 28 March 2008

Game Stats

Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
8
Out of 10
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue
  • Physics are superb
  • Stunning car models
  • Slowdown
  • Online is disappointing
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 28/03/2007
Platform: PS3
Developer: Polyphony Digital
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Racing
No. Players: 1-16
Rating: PEGI 3+
Site Rank: 913 54
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