Review by Dangerous K
"Welcome to the race track of the real"
On July 11, 2001 the long awaited sequel to Gran Turismo 2 hit the shelves everywhere for the Playstation 2. The game had gone through several delays. Originally it was supposed to be titled “Gran Turismo 2000” and it had been planned to be a launch game for the PS2 on October 26, 2000. However delays pushed the game into 2001. At that point the “2000” part of the title was no longer valid. When the game was finally released on 7/11/01 it was titled “Gran Turismo 3 A-Spec”.
I found the game to be entirely worth the wait. But depending on who you talk to, that opinion varies. Sony claimed this game to be a driving simulator. Does it live up to that name? Yes and no. If you are looking for a close enough simulation to driving, this probably will do the job for you. However if you are looking for a near perfect simulation, then keep on looking. Ferrari F355 Challenge is probably the closest to perfection. However regardless of if the game is perfect or not, I do not care. It is one hell of a game.
This game is just beyond the competition graphically. This was supposed to be the game that showed off a lot of the Playstation 2’s capabilities with graphics. Such as heat waves, water effects, and other small things. To start, the car models are incredibly detailed. As you look over each car model you will see that it will match up perfect to it’s real life counterpart in every way. Every line and curve on the car in real life can be found on the models in the game. From there everything only gets better. The race tracks are lush and incredibly detailed. Sponsor ads are everywhere and clearly able to be seen. The trees look just simply awesome as you blow by them in speeds of over 120MPH. Particularly, Laguna Seca Raceway looks every bit true to the way it does in real life. One of my favorite things is on the Trial Mountain is that when you are screaming down the track, there are trees all around. Why might I make a big deal over that? Well for the fact that since the trees create shade which blocks the sunlight, you see sunlight streaming in through the branches peppering the road. It is absolutely beautiful. Another interesting graphical effect is the dust that is kicked up during the Rally Races. Huge trails of dust are kicked up behind the rally cars as they plow down the tracks and drift through the turns. What makes this so fun is that if you are racing in two player mode, if you are in second place and you are behind the first place driver the dust will actually blind you causing you not to be able to see the road ahead. One of the best graphical effects to be seen in this game is on the Special Stage Route 11 track. It is a rain soaked track on which you race during the night. All of the lights reflect off of the track. One of the best ways to describe how this looks is if you’ve gone driving in the dark after it has just rained and you see the street lights glare bounce off of the ground giving the ground an even slicker look to it. The only graphical problem with this track is the fact that due to the incredible detail it has, you can only have 4 cars racing on it at the maximum. Everything is in high resolution and looks wonderful. During the actual game you have first person view or third person view while you are driving. When racing, it is a bit harder to notice some of the more subtle details. The only way to really notice them is by viewing the replays. When you go to view the replay you will see one particular thing that awed me the first time I saw it. When the cars brake, you will see the brake rotors turning red hot from friction generated. This just has to be seen to be believed, it is subtle, yet it is phenomenal. The only downside I have come across with the graphics is a slight issue of pop-up. This only occurs on a few tracks, and for a split second. Nothing major, and is easy to look past. The graphics must be seen to be believed. They are some of the best produced to date on a console system.
The sound in this game is the weakest part of the game as far as I am concerned. None of the cars have a unique sound. When they are sitting at the start line before the race revving their engines, regardless of what modifications they have, they all sound the same. I’m not thrilled with the fact that there seems to be little distinction in how each car sounds. You cannot possibly try to make me think that the Mustang Cobra R sounds exactly the same as the Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo. I’ve heard both cars and to tell you the simple truth, they do not even sound alike. Why the cars sound similar? You could only ask Sony about that. There is simply no excuse for that. I personally love the different sounds every car makes, however there is no excuse as to why different brand cars should sound alike. The other part of the sound is the in game music. I personally do not care for it that much. When I am driving in real life, I do not focus on playing music that often. I would rather listen to the rumble of my Mustang Cobra than music. The music in the game is not unbearable by any means, but like I said I do not care for it. I am more interested in the sounds of the cars than the music. The only reason I give a score of 7 out of 10 is because having the music is better than having to listen to the “blah” sound of the cars. Whenever there is a sequel to this game, I would like to see there be more focus on capturing the actual engine sounds. Not generic crap.
Let me stress right off the bat that this review is not based off of the experience that the steering wheel controller gives. I do not have that controller nor do I feel like spending the money to buy it. This portion of the review is based off of playing with the Dualshock 2 controller. I really think that the control in this game has been improved considerably from Gran Turismo 2. My biggest complaint with Gran Turismo 2 was the fact that the control seemed to be a bit shoddy. I did not always feel I had complete control of the car at all times and it did not seem like there was much variation in control between all of the cars I used in the game. This is not the case here. Each car has its own unique feel to it. Every time I switch cars in the game it usually takes me a lap or two to become reacquainted with the controls for the car. I like that because it shows that the cars all handle differently. One of the biggest differences is the fact that the front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, and all wheel drive cars each have their own specific handling characteristics. When it comes to the Rally Racing mode, the cars handle just simply awesome in it. The feel the control during this mode has is excellent, as you are in total control of the car. It is simple to pull drifts around turns and to straighten your vehicle out from the drift. One of the things that Gran Turismo 3 takes advantage of with the Dualshock 2 controller are the pressure sensitive buttons. By default the “X” button is used for the throttle. Depending on how hard you push the button determines how much faster you will accelerate. I noticed before the race starts when you can rev your engine up, depending on how you hard you push the throttle, you can keep it around a certain RPM if you want. It is just a neat thing you can do I think. As far as I am concerned the control is top notch here. With how good it is, I can only imagine how much better it must be using the steering wheel.
This is a deep, if not deepest racing game you will ever play. There are a ton of things to do in it. Right off the bat there are not over 500 cars like there were in Gran Turismo 2. While some people might not particularly like that, I find it to be much better. It allows for more attention to be paid to each car this time as seeing there are under 200. Plus there was no need for all of those cars because the average player would never even touch 50% of the cars in Gran Turismo 2. Unlike GT2 where you had to memorize where the car dealers were, everything is much more organized. Instead there is a car dealer icon on the main map. From there everything is broken down by countries such as Japan, USA, Germany, Italy, England, and etc. Once you pick a country it then shows you the respective car companies for those countries. If you pick say Italy for example, the car dealers there are Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Maserati, and Pagani. Everything is much more direct. Next after you purchase you car, you can then head over the tuning shop. No more of that hopping all over the map trying to find where the shop is for that one car company. Regardless of what car you have, you go to one tuning shop. This is much better and much more organized. While here there are numerous modifications you can perform on your car. Such as the suspension, brakes, engine, turbo, drivetrain, tires, and etc. There are so many things to do. One of the largest creative freedoms you have in modifying your car is the ability to buy a racing transmission, then set your own gear ratios as you like. The sheer depth of what you can do in this game is just amazing.
The main goal of Gran Turismo 3 is to get a 100% completion rate for the entire game. This is gotten by finishing first in every single race. The races are broken down into 5 different categories:
1) Beginner League
2) Amateur League
3) Professional League
4) Rally Event
5) Endurance Races
The categories are pretty much self explanatory. In each league there are events. For example one of the events is entitled “Gran Turismo World Championship”. In this particular event there are ten races which the player participates in. For each race one, there is a determined prize amount. When all of the races have been completed with a first place finish, the player is rewarded with a either a cash award or a bonus car, or both. However various events have certain requirements which have to be met. The most basic is that of the license. There are six different licenses a player can obtain. The B, A, International B, International A, and then the S Class. Each license is gained by finishing within the allotted time in a series of 10 tests. You can get a Bronze, Silver, or Gold ranking depending on which of the three set times you beat. If you place all gold on say the B License, you are rewarded with a car. The same goes for the other license tests. Also another one of the requirements that the events have sometimes is a specific car or car setup such as front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, mid-engine rear wheel drive, normally aspirated engine, or turbocharged engine.
Once you start getting into the game and win money so you can buy better cars, the game gets better and better. There is a lot to do in the game. Every race takes skill and patience to win. You will find yourself racing many races more than once to win. When you start getting into the tougher races, you will spend more time on tuning the more intricate parts of the car in order to win the race. There are a ton of things to do in this game which makes it all the more fun.
Are you kidding me? The replay this game has is phenomenal. You will find yourself spending so much time on this game playing it, that you will just about damn near forget about everything else in your life. Whether that is good or bad, that is definitely up to you! Getting to 100% is not an easy task. I have not even reached it yet. It requires a lot of time to put into the game. With all of the cars you can buy or earn, it makes the game even better. I found this game to be tremendously addicting and time consuming. Once you start playing, you just do not want to stop. It becomes one of those “Another five minutes” deal. You will keep saying that and saying that, before you know it several hours will have gone by. The sheer amount of things to do in this game just helps it out in this category.
What can I say? This is the best racing game to date, period. Nothing else currently available on the market or even coming to the market can or will be able to touch this game. As far as renting or buying this game. If you are not into cars at all really, I would suggest a rental. For the hardcore car freak, definitely buy this game. Just to add a few things, my only real complaint with this game was the lack of some cars I thought should have been included. In the BMW stable, only the 328ci in the game. Why? I do not know, but it slightly annoys me. There is a much better car in the ///M3. Not to mention the fact that they did not put in the ultimate four door luxury sedan, the ///M5. I really thought these two cars should have most certainly been included. But they were not. No big deal really as I am tremendously pleased with the game. Also, I would like to see for future Gran Turismo games the addition of some more exotics. Specifically like Ferrari and Lamborghini. But to sum it all up, this is one of the must have games of the year. This title is about as close as you are going to get to the real driving experience in video games. Thumbs up to Sony for delaying this game to make sure we the public got a finished product which did not feel rushed.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/27/01, Updated 11/27/01
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